1st Legacy Lecture
1st Annual National World War II Memorial Legacy Lecture
featuring Rick Atkinson
Thursday, November 6, 2013
National Defense University
Lincoln Hall Auditorium
300 5th Avenue, Fort McNair
Rick Atkinson recently completed The Guns at Last Light: The War in Europe, 1944-1945, the final volume 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 Guns at Last Light, covering the last year of the European war, from Normandy to Berlin, was published in May 2013, and was a #1 New York Times bestseller. Sir Max Hastings in The Wall Street Journal called it, “A magnificent book… Atkinson’s account of D-Day is both masterly and lyrical.”
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. He is the lead essayist in Where Valor Rests: Arlington National Cemetery, published by National Geographic in 2007.
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 Postfor 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, the 2003 Society for Military History Distinguished Book Award, the 2007 Gerald R. Ford Award for Distinguished Reporting on National Defense, and the 2010 Pritzker Military Library Literature Award for Lifetime Achievement in Military Writing. 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. 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.
The 2013 National World War II Memorial Legacy Lecture is made possible through the generous contribution of Carolands Preservation Foundation courtesy of Charles B. Johnson and Dr. Ann L. Johnson.