110 of 118 people found the following review helpful
A fitting end to a great trilogy,
This review is from: The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945 (The Liberation Trilogy) (Hardcover)
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Rick Atkinson in The Guns at Last Light has written a masterful account of the war in Europe from the landings at Normandy to the surrender of the German Army. This final installment of the Liberation Trilogy is perhaps the best of the three books (my opinion only).
While The Guns at Last Light is factually correct, Atkinson provides so much more to this history. He manages to paint commanders on both sides in a revealing light adding so much more to his work. He also intelligently deals with mistakes by allied commanders that cost hundreds and even thousands of deaths and amplified the successes of the German commanders who were every bit as good and bad as ours.
Chapter 9, The Bulge, serves as an example. Atkinson provides so much detail in his material that it is mind blowing. The famous response my McAuliffe, commander of the forces at Bastogne is a case in point. Of course, the Germans wanted Bastogne because it was a major crossroads in the area. The Germans demanded that the American's surrender. McAuliffe's reply of "Nuts" while clear to us was confusing to the Germans. The German read the reply and asked if the answer was "negative or affirmative?"
"The reply is decidedly not affirmative," the American said. "If you don't understand what "nuts" means, in plain English it is the same as `go to hell. We will kill every godd..m German that tries to break into this city."
"We will kill many Americans. This is War."
While many Americans are familiar with the "nuts" response, most, at least for me, have never heard the rest of the tale.
The book is populated with intelligent (for a change) maps that actually communicate information. Also, always a major plus for me, are the wonderful and extensive notes at the end of the book. These notes are great extensions of the information in the book proper.
For me personally, some of the most profound material is located in the Epilogue. This is not to take anything away from the first 628 pages. In analyzing the impact of the war, Atkinson reviews the losses of the various combatant armies. Casualty lists of 194,000 killed and wounded among the British, Canadian, Polish and ancillary forces is hard to deal with. Considering that fully one third of all German boys born between 1915 and 1924 were gone is staggering. As Americans in 2013, we just can't conceive of such profound losses. It is important that authors such as Rick Atkinson remind us of the cost of the victory. This is also mind blowing when you consider that both the British and Canadians were fighting in the Pacific as well.
The Guns at Last Light, the final installment of the Liberation Trilogy is a fitting end to such a landmark series of books.
I highly recommend.
Semper Fi and bless us all.