The first of a projected three volumes about the U.S. role in the World War II liberation of Europe, _An Army at Dawn_ deals with the North Africa campaign. Somehow, the author has found just the right mix of detail -- from personal notes out of soldiers' diaries and letters home, to the reparations paid to Algerians for traffic fatalities caused by Allies -- versus big picture aspects, such as the British and American political maneuverings at Casablanca and the larger troop movements and battle strategy. He mentions GI passwords in various battles, jokes, and ditties along with the graver tales of of triumph and tragedy. The author does not spare us the details of Allied political and personal squabbles (particularly British condescension toward American battleworthiness and courage -- not altogether undeserved, but not fair, either), absurdities, and atrocities. The book reads smoothly and compulsively, and there are plenty of excellent maps sprinkled throughout the book, at just the right places.
This report prepared by David Loftus