T.M.’s Book Review: The Liberation Trilogy by Rick Atkinson

This is actually three books telling one story that is pertinent to preppers.

An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943
© 2002  ISBN: 0-8050-6288-2    681 pages

The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944
© 2007  ISBN: 0-8050-6289-0    791 pages

The Guns at Last Light: The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945
© 2013  ISBN: 978-0-8050-6290-8    877 pages
All three volumes have excellent maps, indexes, bibliography, and a flawed endnote system.
All three volumes are published by Henry Holt and Co. in New York City, NY
All three volumes are available at your favorite bookseller in paperback, e-book, or hardback.
The author has also created a web site at www.liberationtrilogy.com to complement the books.

The Liberation Trilogy by Rick Atkinson is the story of World War II in the Mediterranean and Western Europe. It took fourteen years for the author to write the story, and it is a good read for any military history buff and preppers. I purchased the set as they were first issued since 2002, set the first two on the shelf, and did not begin reading until a few months ago when volume 3 arrived. Reading the entire story at one time helps to maintain the flow.
I found the books to be well written, interesting, and informative to me as an historian and a prepper. Although I have been reading about WWII for fifty years, I learned a great deal from these books. The author does not shy away from criticizing the well-known generals and highlights their personality disorders and their genius.
I dislike the authors’ choice of endnote style. The endnotes are bunched by page numbers, and partial quotes leading to the actual source. I found it difficult to navigate when looking for a reference and in some cases the reference for a quote is missing. The author also likes to use uncommon words. Examples are “a crepuscular gorge,” “a lunatic tintinnabulation”, “a pellucid day,” “a bells deep, fatidic toll,” have you ever been “gobsmacked,” or seen any “vitrified clinkers.” Keep your dictionary handy.
In spite of those problems, if you like military history, I recommend you purchase the boxed set and enjoy yourself.

If military history is not your first choice, there is a ton of good information in these three books for anyone interested in prepping and using history as a learning tool. Read this with pen and paper nearby for note taking. The author spends a lot of time relating logistical difficulties on both sides of the fight, and for civilians caught in the middle. When war comes to your neighborhood, the first thing you lose is physical safety, and then food and water. Cats and dogs rise to the top of the menu within days. All other animals follow quickly. Foodstuffs and personal weapons are immediately seized by the military forces. Firewood is scarce due to a lack of tools and manpower. The American forces needed one million cords in the winter of 1944-45, but could only obtain 36,000. That is a huge deficit that lead to frostbite and hypothermia on a large scale. Even General Eisenhower slept fully clothed at times. Allied forces used 50 million rolls of toilet tissue per month. How is your supply? The Allies used 40 billion rounds of small arms ammunition in thirteen months just in Western Europe. The city of Cologne, Germany had no food, fuel, water, gas, or electricity for almost eight months. If you wisely left town you did so on foot. The trains were not running. Socks used by American soldiers lasted three washings before disintegrating. During combat, they were sometimes worn for weeks at a time between those washings due to a lack of replacements. Boots and uniforms lasted just about as long. In short, everything a combat soldier required on a daily basis had to be transported from the USA. Without that supply line, they would starve. The civilians were on their own until arrangements could be made by the military. Civilian authorities were out of business. Hunger was normal. Cannibalism was not unknown. The Dutch ate cats, dogs, nettle soup, and tulip bulbs. Can you live on 600 calories per day?
That said, I pray the USA will not suffer such a tragedy again, as we did in our civil war, and the people of Europe suffered twice in one century. Remember, not just wars bring chaos and hunger to a nation.

My suggestion is to be prepared to be totally on your own. This trilogy relates some harsh realities for people who do not prepare for bad times. If you are a prepper, read and take lots of notes.
I recommend this set of books.