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ATKINSON'S ARMY TRIUMPHS
on February 8, 2014
I purchased Rick Atkinson's "Army at Dawn" and the other two titles in his Liberation Trilogy after hearing him impressively lecture about the most recent book in the trilogy, "The Guns at Last Light."
Atkinson is among that rare breed of historians who are also talented writers; it is one thing to know history and lecture about it. It is quite another to have the ability to bring it to life on the printed page. Atkinson excels as both researcher and story teller. "Army at Dawn" history lesson is laden with anecdotes, and a reader can only pause now and then to marvel at the the time, effort, and execution that Atkinson implemented to enlighten readers in this text and in the trilogy mates that succeeded it.
A professional military historian may find fault with "Dawn," but for us non-professionals, the book is a fascinating read, laced with stories about the American military personalities of the day and the ordinary foot soldiers and tankers, but doing so without ever losing sight of the underlying theme: the initial involvement of American military forces in North Africa in the early days of World War II.
A note of caution: Rick Atkinson is an excellent wordsmith, and his vocabulary is exceptional, yet never used glibly or gratuitously. Still, a reader of Atkinson's trilogy would be well advised to keep a dictionary by the bedpost, because his prose brings powerful expression to the English language as well as to American military history.
You can choose to dismiss his prose as overkill, or you can choose to treat it as an expression of a man's exceptional vocabulary; I rarely encountered a page that didn't offer up at least one "new" word. I chose to accept the Atkinson Word Challenge, and I spruced up my own vocabulary in the process.