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Rick Atkinson

Pulitzer-Prize Winning Author & Military Historian

Travels From

District of Columbia



Rick Atkinson is completing volume three of his Liberation Trilogy, a narrative history of the U.S. military’s role in the liberation of Europe in World War II. The first volume, An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-1943, received the Pulitzer Prize and was acclaimed by the Wall Street Journal as “the best World War II battle narrative since Cornelius Ryan’s classics, The Longest Day and A Bridge Too Far.” The second volume, The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944, drew praise from the New York Times as “a triumph of narrative history, elegantly written…and rooted in the sight and sounds of battle.” The final volume of the Liberation Trilogy, covering the last year of the European war, from Normandy to Berlin, will be published in May 2013.


Atkinson is also the best-selling author of The Long Gray Line, a narrative saga about the West Point class of 1966, and Crusade, a narrative history of the Persian Gulf War. He also wrote In the Company of Soldiers, an account of his time with General David H. Petraeus and the 101st Airborne Division during the invasion of Iraq in 2003; the New York Times Book Review called the book “the most intimate, vivid, and well-informed account yet published” on that war, and Newsweek cited it as one of the ten best books of 2004.


Atkinson’s many awards include the 2003 Pulitzer Prize for history; the 1982 Pulitzer Prize for national reporting; and the 1999 Pulitzer Prize for public service, awarded to the Washington Post for a series of investigative articles directed and edited by Atkinson on shootings by the District of Columbia police department. He is winner of  the 1989 George Polk Award for national reporting and the 2007 Gerald R. Ford Award for Distinguished Reporting on National Defense. Atkinson has served as the Gen. Omar N. Bradley Chair of Strategic Leadership at the U.S. Army War College, where he remains an adjunct faculty member.


Atkinson served as a reporter, foreign correspondent, and senior editor for 25 years at the Washington Post, where his most recent assignments were covering the 101st Airborne during the invasion of Iraq, and writing about roadside bombs in Iraq and Afghanistan in 2007. Previously he served as the assistant managing editor for investigations, a position that gave him the responsibility of investigative reporting at the newspaper. Atkinson’s journalism career began at the Pittsburg (Kansas) Morning Sun in 1976; in 1977, he moved to the Kansas City Times, before going to the Washington Post in 1983. Among other assignments, he served as the Post’s Berlin bureau chief, covering not only Germany and NATO, but also spending considerable time in Somalia and Bosnia.


Born in Munich, Germany, Atkinson is the son of a U.S. Army officer and grew up on military posts. He holds a master of arts degree in English literature from the University of Chicago. He and his wife, Dr. Jane C. Atkinson, a researcher and clinician at the National Institutes of Health, live in the District of Columbia. They have two grown children.

Check out the Liberation Trilogy!
Read Rick Atkinson's interview with PBS online
See what The New York Times says about In the Company of Soldiers
See what The New York Times says about The Day of Battle
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The Guns at Last Light
The War in Western Europe, 1944-1945
Henry Holt and Co.

The magnificent conclusion to Rick Atkinson’s acclaimed Liberation Trilogy about the Allied triumph in Europe during World War II It is the twentieth...
Trade Paperback
The Long Gray Line
The American Journey of West Point's Class of 1966
Holt Paperbacks

“Enormously rich in detail and written with a novelist’s brilliance . . . A very moving book.” —James Salter, The Washington Post Book World A classic of its...
Trade Paperback
The Day of Battle
The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-1944
Holt Paperbacks

“A triumph of narrative history, elegantly written, thick with unforgettable description and rooted in the sight and sounds of battle.”—The New York Times In...


Following the Leaders: What Our Military History Teaches About Being in Charge, From Patton to Petraeus: Atkinson looks at America's great military leaders, drawing on his own extensive experience reporting alongside General David Patraeus and other great soldiers, and what their strengths and lessons can teach us.

The Day of Battle: From North Africa to Berlin, the American Military in the Liberation of Europe in World War II: Atkinson is one of the most celebrated historians of the Second World War, and his books on the subject have achieved both critical and popular success

Bringing Back the Dead: History, Memory, and Writing About War: With, as always, a journalist's eye, Atkinson discusses the craft and art of writing in some of the most compelling, dangerous situations.



  • 2012 International Conference on WWII – Rick Atkinson


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