Coffee & Book Discussion, "An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943"

Hi all,

We are fast approaching our first meetup book discussion.  I've updated how you will be able to find the group on Saturday. Don't worry if you haven't finished the book, but come ready to participate and meet some new book lovers.  

See everyone Saturday morning,



This is our first book discussion and I hope you will enjoy reading the book and discussing. It is the first volume o Rick Atkinson's Pulitzer Prize winning account of WWII. Book I takes us briefly through the start of the war and delves into the North Africa campaign, and America's coming of age an military power. Below is the Amazon review of the book and a link. Review
In An Army at Dawn,, a comprehensive look at the[masked] Allied invasion of North Africa, author Rick Atkinson posits that the campaign was, along with the battles of Stalingrad and Midway, where the "Axis ... forever lost the initiative" and the "fable of 3rd Reich invincibility was dissolved." Additionally, it forestalled a premature and potentially disastrous cross-channel invasion of France and served as a grueling "testing ground" for an as-yet inexperienced American army. Lastly, by relegating Great Britain to what Atkinson calls the status of "junior partner" in the war effort, North Africa marked the beginning of American geopolitical hegemony. Although his prose is occasionally overwrought, Atkinson's account is a superior one, an agile, well-informed mix of informed strategic overview and intimate battlefield-and-barracks anecdotes. (Tobacco-starved soldiers took to smoking cigarettes made of toilet paper and eucalyptus leaves.) Especially interesting are Atkinson's straightforward accounts of the many "feuds, tiffs and spats" among British and American commanders, politicians, and strategists and his honest assessments of their--and their soldiers'--performance and behavior, for better and for worse. This is an engrossing, extremely accessible account of a grim and too-often overlooked military campaign. --H. O'Billovich --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Atkinson won a Pulitzer Prize during his time as a journalist and editor at the Washington Post and is the author of The Long Gray Line: The American Journey of West Point's Class of 1966 and of Crusade: The Untold Story of the Persian Gulf War. In contrast to Crusade's illustrations of technomastery, this book depicts the U.S. Army's introduction to modern war. The Tunisian campaign, Atkinson shows, was undertaken by an American army lacking in training and experience alongside a British army whose primary experience had been of defeat. Green units panicked, abandoning wounded and weapons. Clashes between and within the Allies seemed at times to overshadow the battles with the Axis. Atkinson's most telling example is the relationship of II Corps commander George Patton and his subordinate, 1st Armored Division's Orlando Ward. The latter was a decent person and capable enough commander, but he lacked the final spark of ruthlessness that takes a division forward in the face of heavy casualties and high obstacles. With Dwight Eisenhower's approval, Patton fired him. The result was what Josef Goebbels called a "second Stalingrad"; after Tunisia, the tide of war rolled one way: toward Berlin. Atkinson's visceral sympathies lie with Ward; his subtext from earlier books remains unaltered: in war, they send for the hard men. Despite diction that occasionally lapses into the melodramatic, general readers and specialists alike will find worthwhile fare in this intellectually convincing and emotionally compelling narrative.

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  • Dave S.

    Gregg's recommendations sound good. I've read several by Alan Furst who is excellent, and the others sound good as well. For the fiction genre I'll add "Child 44" by Tom Rob Smith, "The girl with the Dragon Tattoo" by Stieg Larsson, and a wild card - "To Kill a Mockingbird" by Harper Lee.

    July 14, 2014

  • Gregg J.

    Several ideas for next fiction read for everyone's voting:
    Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews and Spies of Warsaw by Alan Furst are supposed to be good spy novels; Last Kind Words Saloon by Larry McMurtry a western; All Quiet on the Western Front classic war fiction; or just about anything by Bernard Cornwell.

    July 14, 2014

  • Dave S.

    Good discussion with knowledgeable folks.

    July 12, 2014

  • Scott H.

    I'll wait for the next book.... In the middle of something I need finish.... I'll keep watching for the next book thx

    July 2, 2014

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