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"The Guns at Last Light" by Rick Atkinson

Discussion in 'ETO, MTO and the Eastern Front' started by kerrd5, Feb 12, 2013.

  1. kerrd5

    kerrd5 Ace

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    "The Guns at Last Light", the final volume in the Liberation Trilogy
    by Rick Atkinson, will be released in the United States in May 2013.

    The Guns at Last Light | The Liberation Trilogy, by Rick Atkinson

    If it is equal to his previous tomes, "An Army at Dawn" and "Day of Battle", we
    can look forward to a meticulously researched and splendid narrative of the
    American Army's role in the liberation of Europe.


    Dave
     
  2. kerrd5

    kerrd5 Ace

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  3. Buten42

    Buten42 Member

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    Thanks for the heads up Dave--I've been waiting a long time for this
     
  4. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    I can't wait until this comes out. I think I'll re-read the first two volumes before it does. That way, it will be continuous.
     
  5. Buten42

    Buten42 Member

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    Finally got the time to finish "The Guns at Last Light". I'll play devil's advocate and give it my review.

    "Guns at Last Light, War in Western Europe 1944-1945"
    Author: Rick Atkinson
    879 pages including index, etc.

    Mr. Atkinson has a way of taking a ton of statistics, brief biographies, antidotes, GI slang, and a lot of hard research and blends it together to create an easy to read, general overview of this period of time in Western Europe. It is a great conclusion to his other two books on the ETO in WWII. I now have all three on the shelf.

    Being a 2nd Armored Division fan I was rather disappointed to see Mr. Atkinson fall into the trap of letting General Patton’s 3rd Army overshadow the accomplishments of the other Allied commands. (He did give the 30th Infantry Division is rightful honors.) I didn't notice it so much in "An Army at Dawn", and "The Day of Battle" because General Patton and the 2nd Armored occupied a good part of these two with the invasion of North Africa and Sicily.
    If the 2nd AD could have remained under Patton's command I'm sure it would have been given the credit due.

    For instance, there was no mention of how the VII Corp, (1st Army) spearheaded by the 2nd Armored, broke out of Normandy and held the Germans to help form the Falaise Pocket. (no ink spared about Patton’s conquest of lightly held Brittney). No mention of the VII Corp beating Patton to the Seine River, being the first units into Belgium, first to breach the Siegfried Line, first on the Roer. However, he did spare one sentence about the 2nd Armored marching 70 miles in the same weather as Patton to stop the Germans before they crossed the Meuse during the Bulge. (again, no ink spared on Patton’s heroic march to Bastogne.)

    I don't mean to give the impression that General Patton is overrated, he was a gifted war commander. But, he had a way of capturing most of the headlines while the other generals just got the job done.

    I enjoyed the book and consider it well worth the money, ($40—I paid $25 on pre-order) but I need to remember that General Patton makes good reading and good reading sells books. Mr. Atkinson is a gifted author.
     
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  6. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Well, you've wetted my appetite...on my list to buy....sounds like an American Version of Max Hastings' work.
     
  7. syscom3

    syscom3 Member

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    The magnificent conclusion to Rick Atkinson’s acclaimed Liberation Trilogy about the Allied triumph in Europe during World War II.

    I highly recommend these three books. Very well written and worthy of any library.

    http://liberationtrilogy.com/books/
     
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  8. texson66

    texson66 Ace

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    Concur with syscom3. Received the third volume for Father's Day/ Anniversary and have started reading!
     
  9. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    I may dip my toe into choppy waters here.......found a copy of Rick Atkinson's 'The Guns At Last Light' in a charity shop at the weekend ( a mint condition, £35 book for £4... ) and started reading it with keen interest, as NW Europe is my area of interest.

    It's a compelling read, with many quotes and snippets from a vast array of war reporting and literature. But it's strange when something suddenly draws you up short. I'm something of a Hemingway fan and, although its far from his best writing, have re-read many times his 'Voyage To Victory' about D-Day.

    Especially his description of USS Texas' 14-inch guns '..flash like a blast furnace......the concussion and report.....struck your near ear like a punch with a heavy, dry glove'.

    But Mr Atkinson has it that ' Occasional enemy shells detonated in the dunes with a concussion likened by Hemingway to ' a punch with a heavy, dry glove'......

    And that's what draws me up short. Can I trust all the other quotes.....? :confused:

    ( After all, it's well-known that Hemingway never came ashore on D-Day, apart from anything else......)

    So, great reading and I'll press on, but with slightly less enthusiasm.
     
  10. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    Sorry to be so late on this, but I just noticed it and can't resist. :cool:

    Technically Atkinson is correct. VII Corps spearheaded the tactical breakthrough, while Third Army executed the breakout, led by VIII Corps into Brittany and more critically by the XV Corps and 90th Infantry Division east to Le Mans. Objectively, one of the more critical events during the period - next to the 30th Division and CCB, 2d Armored action at Mortain, was the seizure of the bridge at Mayenne by TF Weaver of the 90th Division. Also, it was XV Corps of Third Army which wheeled north to Alencon to create the southern jaw of the Falaise pocket. It wasn't until 17 August that V Corps and First Army took over operations at Chambois and Bourg St Leonard at the pocket...and that by taking over Third Army assigned units as attachments. :cool:

    OTOH, you're right. First and especially Ninth Army seem to get short shrift compared to Third Army...and of course then there is poor forgotten Seventh Army.
     
  11. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Well the quote marks could be simply taken as Hemingway's description of the firing or detonation of a large artillery piece and not necessarily specifically one "in the dunes". It could also be that some other Hemingway came ashore on D-Day and made that statement. Perhpas it's not a lack of turst but lack of clarity or reading more into it than is there. Or not. I don't have the book so can't tell from the context.
     
  12. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    LWD, the quote is from Ernest Hemingway's Collier's Weekly, article "Voyage to Victory," in the July 22, 1944 issue. He was at D-Day on board the APA Dorothea Dix, but was not allowed to land. IIRC, he wasn't actually ashore until six weeks later. His wife Martha Gelhorn was actually ashore before him, on 7 June. :cool:

    So Hemingway was there to describe the event, although probably never got close enough to tell what the concussion was like on the "dunes" he could tell what it was like from nearby Texas.
     
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  13. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    You're right - I never figured that there were two Hemingways at D-Day ! :salute:

    Maybe three - it seems now that there was another one actually aboard the USS Texas. I really should have realized that Mr Atkinson was quoting pfc Hemingway who was on Omaha Beach rather than Ernest Hemingway who unequivocally describes being deafened by the firing of the 'the Battleship Texas......just off our right...and firing over us'.

    So the author can only be criticized for confusing his Hemingways, and not for being careless with use ofa source.......
     
  14. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    APA Dorothea Dix was carrying the 6th NBB, teams from the 3d Auxiliary Surgical Group, and elements of the 16th Infantry of D-Day. She committed seven LCVP to the 7th Wave, intended for FOX GREEN at 0725. Six of the LCVP landed on the extreme left of FOX GREEN at approximately 0725 as planned; three of the seven LCVP were lost.

    Ernest Hemingway - the author Ernest Hemingway - was on the Dorothea Dix, his presence on board can be confirmed through a number of sources. Texas fired "over" Dorothea Dix and the rest of the transports in the transport areas, as well as the landing craft in the boat lanes. That can also be confirmed in numerous sources...Texas firing was sort of a landmark for a lot of people there - she was kind of hard to miss. Hemingway was one of a number of correspondents allowed on the assault transports, but none were allowed to land on D-Day (except for Robert Capa), which can also be confirmed in numerous sources. Hemingway in his Collier article later said he was on an LCVP at some time during D-Day and implied he landed on the beach. He may have been on the LCVP, but he did not land on the beach.

    Is that clear enough for you now?
     
  15. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Would be interesting to know just how many Hemingways landed on D-Day though and what they did. Pure trivia but ....

    Also off topic. oh well.
     
  16. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    Not half - sledgehammers and nuts come to mind - you have indeed confirmed exactly what I already knew. The question remains - which 'Hemingway' was actually behind the beach, describing his experiences in the same words as his namesake Ernest , as quoted by Mr Atkinson.......?
     

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