So there. Fourteen years after I began the Liberation Trilogy, the final volume is done. It took me far longer to tell the tale of the war in the Mediterranean and in western Europe than it took Allied armies to win those campaigns. There were more of them, true enough, but I certainly had assistance from many quarters. My debt to those who helped along the way is exceeded only by my gratitude.

Publication of the first two volumes, An Army at Dawn and The Day of Battle, encouraged many veterans and their progeny, as well as others with an interest and expertise in World War II, to provide me with memoirs, oral histories, and sundry material about the campaign in western Europe for this third volume. I would like to thank:

Creighton Abrams, James Acklin, Bruce Adkinson, John Alosi, Jr., Karen Anderson, Robert C. Baldridge, Steven Barry, Charles C. Bates, Robert W. Baumer, Günter Bischof, W. H. Black, Lloyd J. Bliss, Roger N. Bollier, Marty Bollinger, Jan Bos, David R. Boyd, Spencer Bruskin, Garfield Brown, Charles F. Bryan, Jr., Steve Bull Bear, James MacGregor Burns, Harold Burson, Andrew Carroll, Ben Celano, Robert E. Coffin, Edward M. Coffman, Michael J. Corley, Jim K. Cullen, Richard G. Davis, Joe DeMarco, Leonard Nicolas DeNucci, Carlo D’Este, Henry B. Dewey, Joseph C. Doherty, Michael D. Doubler, R. K. Doughty, Gerald H. Dorman, Roger S. Durham, Walter D. Ehlers, David Eisenhower, John S. D. Eisenhower, Coy Eklund, Jan Elvin, Isaac Epps, Francis A. Even, Daniel G. Felger, Allen R. Ferguson, Andrew E. Finkel, Giovanni Finzi-Contini, Don M. Fox, Richard B. Frank, Bill Frederick, Leonard J. Fullenkamp, Johnny Gibson, John A. Gill, Linda Gilmore, Mark Good, Walter Grabowski, Walter H. Greenfield, Jr., Fred Groff III, Hans-Jürgen Habenicht, Arthur T. Hadley, Fred W. Hall, Jr., Herb H. Ham, Ralph Hauenstein, Dixon D. Hedges, Carl F. Heintze, Walter C. Heisler, Matthew Hermes, Peter C. Hesse, Shane Hinckley, Fred Hoffman, Weldon Hogie, Rick Holderbaum, Edgar Holton, Douglas Hope, Sir Michael Howard, Charles H. Hubbell, Tim Hughes, Dennis J. Hutchinson, Dean F. Jewett, Lewis Johnston, Douglas B. Jordan, Phil Jutras, David Kahn, Dave Kanzler, William Kearney, Robert J. Kenney, Jr., Roger Keppel, Dave Kerr, Michael Ketchum, Janet Keysser, Harry W. O. Kinnard II, Sherry Klein, Todd Kleinhuizen, William A. Knowlton, Frederick J. Kroesen, Edward Latham, John Leh II, Brian M. Linn, Roy Livengood, Leonard G. Lomell, Eugene M. Long, Jr., John F. Manning, Sanford H. Margalith, Jack A. Marshall, Joseph Edgar Martin, Peter A. McGrath, Sally McGrath, Donald L. Miller, Allan R. Millett, William W. Moir, Philip Monteleoni, Virginia P. Montgomery, Dan Morgan, Henry G. Morgan, Mary Ann Moxon, Paul Gregory Nagle, Michael Carey Nason, Lovern “Jerry” Nauss, Jeff Nichols, Randy Norton, Bruce Parker, Donald G. Patton, Rick Perry, Paul A. Philcox, Henry G. Phillips, Richard Piotrowski, Mike Popowski, Rich Porter, William P. T. Preston, Jr., Sally Quinn, William W. Quinn, Russell Rains, Daniel B. Rathburn, Edward Rathje, Mark J. Reardon, Lacy Reaves, Robert A. Reisman, Delmar Richards, John K. Rieth, Joseph P. “Phil” Rivers, Estil Robertson, Eric Ross, Stan Scislowski, Robert H. Seabrook, Allan Serviss, William P. Shaw, Kevin P. Shea, Robert Sheridan II, Nathan M. Shippee, Lewis “Bob” Sorley, Arthur O. Spaulding, Douglas M. Spencer, Roger Spiller, Gregory Stejskal, Wayne Stiles, Timothy R. Stoy, Ray Stuchell, Jim Sudmeier, C. C. Taylor, Will Thornton, Louis J. Timchak, Jr., Jack W. Tipton, Laurie Campbell Toth, Charles E. Umhey, Jr., Hoyt Sanford Vandenberg, Jr., Donald C. Van Roosen, Hans von Luck, Douglas C. Waller, George Patton “Pat” Waters, Joanne Villafane, Stephen J. Weiss, Carroll Wetzel, Jr., Clark Whelton, Tanya Bruskin White, Luther George Williams, Jr., James M. Wilson, Jr., Harold R. Winton, Scott Wolf, Tom Wolfson, John Ward Yates, and David T. Zabecki.

I had the good fortune to have seven accomplished historians read all or parts of the manuscript. I thank them for their invaluable suggestions, while accepting full responsibility for any errors of fact or judgment: Tami Davis Biddle, Roger Cirillo, Timothy K. Nenninger, Mark A. Stoler, James Scott Wheeler, David T. Zabecki, and particularly Joseph Balkoski, the gifted chronicler of the battles for Normandy and beyond, who was generous enough to read the thing twice.

For a third time I gratefully acknowledge a profound debt to the hundreds of historians, memoirists, and others whose writings over the past seventy years provide the foundation for all subsequent works of scholarship. The 114-volume U.S. Army in World War II, the official history known as the Green Series, has been invaluable to me, as have the official British History of the Second World War, The Army Air Forces in World War II, and other works, ranging from short monographs and periodical articles to multivolume studies.

But the core of this narrative, like its two predecessors, derives from primary, contemporaneous sources, including diaries, letters, and unpublished manuscripts, as well as official records, after action reports, and combat interviews. I appreciate the professionalism and patience of archivists, historians, and librarians by the score in tracking down those thousands of documents. That starts at the National Archives and Records Administration in College Park, Maryland, where cumulatively I have spent many months since January 1999. I thank Richard Boylan, Timothy Mulligan, Larry McDonald, Sharon Culley, Theresa Roy, and especially my close friend Tim Nenninger, the chief of modern military records, without whom there would be no trilogy.

The U.S. Army’s Military History Institute, part of the Army Heritage and Education Center at Carlisle, Pennsylvania, remains among the greatest military archives in the world and a priceless asset to anyone studying World War II. In researching this volume, I made twenty-three pilgrimages to MHI, usually for two- or three-day stretches; in all, I made sixty-nine visits while working on the trilogy. I am beholden to the entire staff, and particularly Col. Matthew Dawson, the AHEC director; Conrad C. Crane, the MHI director; Richard L. Baker, senior technical information specialist; Molly A. Bompane, curator of photography; Stephen Bye; Terry Foster; Rodney Foytik; Tom Hendrix; Clifton Hyatt; Gary Johnson; David A. Keough; Michael E. Lynch; Jessica Sheets; Melissa K. Wiford; and particularly Richard J. Sommers.

At the adjacent U.S. Army War College at Carlisle Barracks, I thank the current commandant, Maj. Gen. Anthony A. Cucolo III, and his predecessors, Lt. Gen. David H. Huntoon, Jr., and Maj. Gen. Gregg F. Martin. Also: Bohdan I. Kohutiak, the library director, and my good friend and former co-instructor, Col. (ret.) Charles D. Allen.

The U.S. Army Center of Military History at Fort McNair in Washington, D.C., once again provided expertise and a rich lode of documents. I thank Robert J. Dalessandro, the executive director and chief of military history; Richard W. Stewart, the chief historian; Frank R. Shirer, chief of the historical resources branch; David W. Hogan, Jr.; and Beth McKenzie.

I had the good fortune to twice hold media fellowships in 2008 and 2010 at the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution and Peace at Stanford University. I thank David Brady and Mandy MacCalla, as well as archivist Carol A. Leadenham and associate archivist Brad Bauer. Thanks too to George P. Shultz for his cordial encouragement.

I was an Axel Springer Berlin Prize fellow in the fall of 2009 at the American Academy in Berlin, a marvelously nurturing institution for scholars and artists. I thank Gary Smith, the executive director, and his entire staff.

Through the University of Chicago’s Jeff Metcalf Fellows Program I was lucky enough to have research assistance in the summer of 2010 from the talented, diligent Tomek Blusiewicz, then a Chicago undergraduate and now a graduate student in history at Harvard. I’m also grateful for research assistance on volume three from Ella Hoffman, Hal Libby, and Eric Goldstein, and from my children, Sarah J. Atkinson, now a surgical resident in Cincinnati, and Rush Atkinson, now a Justice Department lawyer in Washington. The knowledgeable Steve Goodell helped with photo research.

The encouragement and generous support of the Association of the United States Army has been important from the beginning of this enterprise. I particularly thank Gen. (ret.) Gordon R. Sullivan, the association president and former Army chief of staff, Lt. Gen. (ret.) Theodore G. Stroup, Jr., and Lt. Gen. (ret.) Thomas G. Rhame.

At the Franklin D. Roosevelt Presidential Library in Hyde Park, New York, I am grateful to the former director, Cynthia M. Koch, and to supervisory archivist Robert Clark. Likewise, at the Dwight D. Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, Kansas, I appreciate the assistance of archivist Christopher Abrahamson.

My appreciation again goes to the George C. Marshall Research Library at the Virginia Military Academy in Lexington, Virginia: to Joanne D. Hartog, director of research and scholarly programs; Paul B. Barron, director of the library and archives; Peggy L. Dillard, assistant librarian and archivist; Brian D. Shaw, president of the George C. Marshall Foundation; and, at VMI, Gen. (ret.) J. H. Binford Peay III, the superintendent; Prof. Malcolm “Kip” Muir, Jr.; and Brig. Gen. (ret.) Charles F. Brower IV.

For a third time I thank the Colonel Robert R. McCormick Research Center at the First Division Museum in Wheaton, Illinois, a division archive without peer. I especially appreciate help from Col. (ret.) Paul H. Herbert, executive director of the Cantigny First Division Foundation, and from Eric Gillespie, director of the research center, and Andrew E. Woods, research historian. I made very good use of the D-Day Archival Collection and other 29th Infantry Division material held by the Maryland Military Historical Society at the Fifth Regiment Armory in Baltimore, Maryland. Thanks to Wayde Minami and especially Joe Balkoski.

The flourishing National World War II Museum in New Orleans has been a source of encouragement and assistance. Thanks to Gordon H. “Nick” Mueller, the president and CEO, Stephen Watson, Jeremy Collins, Lindsey Barnes, Cindy McCurdy, Tom Czekanski, Stacy Peckham, and Sam Wegner.

The Combined Arms Research Library at Ft. Leavenworth, Kansas, provided an exceptionally diverse array of materials. Thank you to Edwin B. Burgess, Rusty P. Rafferty, Kathleen M. Buker, and Elizabeth J. Merrifield.

In the Office of History for the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers at Ft. Belvoir, Virginia, I thank Michael J. Brodhead, John Lonnquest, and Matthew T. Pearcy. In the Special Collections and Archives at the U.S. Military Academy Library, West Point, New York, I thank Suzanne M. Christoff, Susan M. Lintelman, Alicia M. Mauldin-Ware, and Valerie Dutdut. Thanks too to Janis Jorgensen, the Heritage Collection manager at the U.S. Naval Institute in Annapolis, Maryland, and to John W. Greco at the Naval History and Heritage Command in Washington, D.C.

In the United Kingdom, I appreciate help from the staff of the National Archives in Kew. At the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives at King’s College in London, I thank Kate O’Brien, Frances Pattman, Lianne Smith, and Patricia J. Methven, the director of archive services. Grateful thanks once again to Roderick Suddaby and his staff in the Department of Documents at the Imperial War Museum. In Germany, thanks to Michael Epkenhans and Markus Pöhlmann at the Militärgeschictliches Forschungsamt in Potsdam.

Thanks to Doug McCabe, in the department of archives and special collections at Ohio University Library in Athens, Ohio, home to the remarkable Cornelius Ryan Collection. I also appreciate the help of Julian M. Pleasants and Diane Fischler in using the Samuel Proctor Oral History Program, in the University of Florida history department. Likewise, I appreciate the help of Cynthia L. Tinker, project coordinator at the Center for the Study of War and Society, University of Tennessee at Knoxville.

At the York County Heritage Trust in York, Pennsylvania, Lila Fourhman-Shaull, the library and archives director, was especially generous in helping me research the papers of Jacob L. Devers. Thanks to Brig. Gen. (ret.) John W. Nicholson and Martha Sell of the American Battle Monuments Commission, and to Rena Church, director-curator of the Aurora Public Art Commission/ Grand Army of the Republic Museum in Aurora, Illinois.

Walking the ground is vital for any military historian, and I have visited most of the European battlefields described in this volume, beginning in the mid-1990s, when I served as the Berlin bureau chief of The Washington Post. On several occasions I had the good fortune to study the terrain, at places like the Bulge, the Hürtgen Forest, and Colmar, with professional soldiers. For this I particularly thank Gen. (ret.) Montgomery C. Meigs and Gen. Carter F. Ham, both of whom commanded the U.S. Army in Europe, as well as two former chiefs of Army history, Maj. Gen. (ret.) William A. Stofft and Brig. Gen. (ret.) Harold Nelson, and a team of fine historians: Scott Wheeler, Andrew N. Morris, and Layne Van Arsdale.

This is the sixth book I have written with the remarkable John Sterling as my editor and close friend; collectively those books total more than 3,700 pages, and John has improved every page. At Henry Holt, and at the publisher’s parent company, Macmillan, I also thank John Sargent, Steve Rubin, Maggie Richards, Pat Eisemann, Katie Kurtzman, Kenn Russell, Meryl Levavi, Emi Ikkanda, Chuck Thompson, Jason Liebman, and Muriel Jorgensen. Jolanta Benal has copyedited all three volumes of the Liberation Trilogy, making each better in ways large and small.

All sixty-eight maps in the Liberation Trilogy are the work of master cartographer Gene Thorp, who has been a delightful, innovative partner throughout this project. My friend and agent for twenty-seven years, Rafe Sagalyn, helped see me through it all.

My thanks also goes to Antony Beevor, Ben Bradlee, Tom Brokaw, Steve Coll, Leonard Downie, Jr., Glenn Frankel, Donald E. Graham, Ken Heckler, Fred Hiatt, Robert G. Kaiser, Lewis Libby, David H. Petraeus, Catherine B. Reynolds, Wayne R. Reynolds, Thomas E. Ricks, William B. Schultz, David Von Drehle, Geoffrey Wawro, Gerhard L. Weinberg, Bob Woodward, and fellow scribbler David Maraniss. Particular thanks to Sir Max Hastings and his wife, Penny, for their generous hospitality and friendship.

Grateful acknowledgment is made of permission to quote various materials: Viscount Montgomery of Alamein for extracts from the writings of his father, Field Marshal Bernard L. Montgomery; Roger Kirk for an oral history with Adm. Alan Goodrich Kirk; Virginia P. Montgomery, for extracts from an unpublished memoir by her father, Robert P. Patterson; Linda Gilmore, for extracts from a memoir by her brother, Richard Henry Byers; George Patton “Pat” Waters, for extracts from prisoner-of-war journals kept by his father, John K. Waters, and for a photograph of Lt. Col. Waters; Margot Taylor for extracts from “And Came Safe Home,” a diary by her father, William Steel Brownlie; Annette Conway for an extract from the “The Man Who Worked on Sunday,” by her father, L. F. Skinner; Mavis Jones for extracts from the papers of her husband, Lt. Col. E. Jones; and Dani Smith for extracts from the diary of her father, J. H. Patterson.

Also: the Trustees of the Liddell Hart Centre for Military Archives, King’s College London, for material from the collections of Capt. B. H. Liddell Hart, Field Marshal Lord Alanbrooke, Maj. Gen. J. B. Churcher, Maj. Gen. Francis de Guingand, Brigadier Sir Geoffrey Hardy-Roberts, Gen. H. L. Ismay, Col. T. G. Lindsay, Brig. J. S. W. Stone, and R. W. W. “Chester” Wilmot. And thanks to the Trustees of the Imperial War Museum, London, for material from the collection of Major E. M. Elliott.

In instances where current copyright holders could not be located, or where permissions arrived too late to be noted in this edition, I will gladly include acknowledgments in future editions.

Beyond all others, and far beyond this writer’s powers of expression, I thank my gorgeous wife of thirty-four years, Jane.

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