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The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 (Volume Two of The Liberation Trilogy) Hardcover – October 2, 2007

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  • The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944 (Volume Two of The Liberation Trilogy)
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  • The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 (The Liberation Trilogy)
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  • An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943 (The Liberation Trilogy, Vol. 1)
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Editorial Reviews Review

Amazon Best of the Month, November 2007: Topping a Pulitzer Prize-winning effort is tough; finding originality in a World War II narrative is even tougher. Yet Rick Atkinson accomplishes both with The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944. His previous work, An Army at Dawn, won the 2003 Pulitzer in history, but Atkinson has managed to set the bar even higher with his second installment in "The Liberation Trilogy." He descends upon each battlefield with rich historical perspective, tactical analysis, and chilling frontline observations. Cocksure Hollywood bravado is sparse, as Atkinson depicts soldiers fighting for honor, not glory. "We did it because we could not bear the shame of being less than the man beside us," explains one soldier's diary. "We fought because he fought; we died because he died." The result is an incredible portrayal of the courage, sorrow, and determination that came to define our greatest generation. --Dave Callanan

From Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Atkinson surpasses his Pulitzer-winning An Army at Dawn in this empathetic, perceptive analysis of the second stage in the U.S. Army's grassroots development from well-intentioned amateurs to the most formidable fighting force of World War II. The battles in Sicily and Italy developed the combat effectiveness and the emotional hardness of a U.S. Army increasingly constrained to bear the brunt of the Western allies' war effort, he argues. Demanding terrain, harsh climate and a formidable opponent confirmed the lesson of North Africa: the only way home was through the Germans: kill or be killed. Atkinson is pitilessly accurate demonstrating the errors and misjudgments of senior officers, Field Marshal Sir Harold Alexander, Gen. Mark Clark and their subordinates commanding corps and divisions. The price was paid in blood by the men at the sharp end: British and French, Indians and North Africans—above all, Americans. All that remained of the crew of one burned-out tank were the fillings of their teeth, for one example. The Mediterranean campaign is frequently dismissed by soldiers and scholars as a distraction from the essential objective of invading northern Europe. Atkinson makes a convincing case that it played a decisive role in breaking German power, forcing the Wehrmacht onto a defensive it could never abandon. (Oct. 2)
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 823 pages
  • Publisher: Henry Holt and Co.; 1st edition (October 2, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0805062890
  • ISBN-13: 978-0805062892
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.7 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (795 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #66,425 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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More About the Author

Rick Atkinson is the bestselling author of six works of narrative military history, including The Guns at Last Light, The Day of Battle, An Army at Dawn, The Long Gray Line, In the Company of Soldiers, and Crusade. He also was the lead essayist in Where Valor Rests: Arlington National Cemetery, published by National Geographic. He was a reporter, foreign correspondent, war correspondent, and senior editor at The Washington Post for more than twenty years. His many awards include Pulitzer Prizes for journalism and history, the George Polk Award, and the Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing. He lives in Washington, D.C. For more information, please visit

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

274 of 291 people found the following review helpful By Dr. Jonathan Dolhenty on October 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
When it comes to writing military history, Rick Atkinson's narratives, in my view, are as good as it gets. I have an entire bookcase devoted to books about World War II and I would argue that very few, if any of them, meet the standard set now by Atkinson as far as depth of research, a flair for the truly visual and personal, and where an easy and readable prose-style is of concern. So I would not hesitate to nominate Atkinson as the best living author of books about World War II, if not of history in general. This current effort is the second volume of a proposed three-volume set of works about that devastating war. The first book in the series was "An Army at Dawn" -- a winner of the Pulitzer Prize -- which dealt with the North African campaign. Now, in "The Day of Battle," Atkinson takes on the campaign in Sicily and Italy in 1943 and 1944. And does he ever!

I have a large collection of videos dealing with WWII and, of course, one can get "up front and close" to the action when watching them. The images, combined with the narration and the accompanying music in the background, provide the viewer with a true "you are there" experience. I felt almost the same experience while reading this book. Atkinson's ability to linguistically describe a situation so that the reader feels he or she is right there within the phenomenal frame of a battle is awesome. And I don't use the word "awesome" very often. But in this case it is genuinely applicable. I could actually visualize all the action as it was occurring; such is an excellent writer's ability to translate words into mental pictures.

There is one other thing I found absolutely compelling about this book.
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84 of 89 people found the following review helpful By A. Courie on October 9, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Rick Atkinson's "The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944" is a masterpiece of military history that should be read by anyone with any interest in World War II or American military history. Following on the heels of his Pulitzer Prize-winning "An Army at Dawn," this is the second work in Atkinson's "Liberation Trilogy" and deserving of yet another Pulitzer Prize. This book is awash in details about the difficult - and often forgotten - fighting in the Mediterranean Theater, but it also clearly and effectively describes the bigger picture of the war in Sicily and Italy.

Two things will immediately strike the reader about this book: the detail with which Atkinson describes the fighting, and the dazzling prose that he uses to tell this story. Atkinson describes the personalities and details of the main characters in the story - the leaders, from Eisenhower to Kesselring to Patton to Mark Clark to - and also gives telling glimpses of the personal lives of the "grunts" who did the fighting on the ground. His emphasis on detail knows no bounds, as he describes Churchill's meals, the furnishings in Mark Clark's office, and the "Anzio Ritz" - the underground cinema at the Anzio beachhead that showed movies to the soldier's at the world's largest self-sufficient POW camp.

For many authors, these details would detract from the story, but through Atkinson's incredible writing, these details instead add life, character, and flavor to this story. He captures the frustrations and difficulties of preparing and leading these forces, such as when he says that "for reasons known only at echelons above reason" a typical convoy required more than six thousand pages of names.
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65 of 71 people found the following review helpful By J. Wan on October 2, 2007
Format: Hardcover
Quick summary: a major history of the US Army's campaign to capture Sicily and mainland Italy during WWII. It covers the years 1943 - 1944 and reveals the maturing development of the US Army from a raw green force in North Africa to a more confident professional army capable of actions involving large scale operations.

With the passage of time, the release of more documents (>50 years since the end of WWII) and the longer arc of history, it is now possible to write more objective and critical history of the US side of the ETO. The first work, Army at the Dawn, revealed how badly prepared the US Army was at the outbreak of WWII and how green they were when they landed in North Africa. In hindsight Operation Torch was necessary in order to help sort out what tactics and weapons worked, which generals and officers were up to the modern shooting war, and what was the character of the American Army. Though West Point supplied a professional officer cadre, every American Army has essentially been an amateur one - from the Revolutionary War, Civil War, Spanish American War, and WWI. Large numbers of keen volunteers which needed several years or campaigns to become a serious fighting army. The Second World War proved no different. Atkinson continues his narrative of the evolution of the American Army with a detailed discussion of the Sicilian and Italian campaigns - the flaws and successes, the personalities, and lesser known but important figures.

This work should interest all readers who have an interest in military history in general, and US military history in particular.
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