Best in Fall History 2013:
#7 Lincoln in the World by Kevin Perraino
#6 Command and Control by Eric Schlosser
#5 One Summer: America 1927 by Bill Bryson
#4 The War That Ended Peace by Margaret MacMillan
#2 Catastrophe 1914: Europe Goes to War by Max Hastings
#2 The Smithsonian History of America in 101 Objects by Richard Kurin
#1 The Liberation Trilogy by Rick Atkinson
In some respects, I am grandly cheating by placing this boxed set as my #1 pick for Fall, as the third book in the set came out in May, and the first two books have been out a minimum of 6 years. But there is no denying historian Rick Atkinson’s achievement represented by the entire Liberation Trilogy, which for the first time will be available in a single set on October 22nd. For the foreseeable future, these three books represent the single best source available to anyone interested in the American Army’s role in Europe during World War II.
Beginning with An Army at Dawn, 2002’s Pulitzer Prize winner in history, Atkinson’s follows the travels and tribulations of the new American army as it first encounters the Nazi war machine in North Africa and eventually defeats it. From there Atkinson takes us to the grinding conflicts in Sicily and Italy in the middle volume, The Day of Battle. The final volume, 2013’s The Guns at Last Light takes the reader onto the beaches of Normandy and on through France into the final days of the Allied drive into Germany. For more than 70 years now thousands of authors have covered this same ground in thousands of books, but few have ever done so with the style Atkinson displays. The Sunday New York Times Book Review of The Guns at Last Light referred to Atkinson’s narrative style as history by “pointillism,” which is a near perfect description. Through astounding detail, he weaves an enthralling tale that will be fresh for both the serious WWII buff and the novice reader. The Liberation Trilogy goes well beyond simply history to become a genuine masterwork of literature. I generally try to avoid gushing over any book or books, but this set is worth it. If you enjoy great writing, great history, and particularly if you are interested in World War II, The Liberation Trilogy is a must have.