Rick Atkinson, leaving WW II behind, says his next book is about the Revolution

Historians in the News
tags: American Revolution, Rick Atkinson

Rick Atkinson, the son of U.S. Army officer and a 25-year veteran at The Washington Post, recently completed a three-volume history of World War II in Europe. The Liberation Trilogy started with "An Army at Dawn: The War in North Africa, 1942-43," continued with "The Day of Battle: The War in Sicily and Italy, 1943-44" and concluded with "The Guns at Last Light: The War in Europe, 1944-45."

Atkinson has written three other books and won three Pulitzer Prizes, one for "An Army at Dawn" and two for work at the Post. He recently visited Portland to promote the paperback edition of "The Guns at Last Light" and revealed that he's deep into another trilogy, on the American Revolution. Our conversation is edited for brevity and clarity.

Congratulations on finishing up World War II.

I'm deep into another project so I can't say there's a lot of rest for the weary. But yeah, there is a sense of gratification that I fulfilled what I set out to do 15 years ago.

What's your other project?

I'm working on the American Revolution. I'm actually doing a trilogy on that, not because I'm fixated on trilogies but that's because the way the story seems to break narratively. I've been researching for about 10 months now with a long way to go. I decided some months ago that when I finished the third volume of the World War II trilogy that I would leave World War II. I wouldn't turn to the Pacific. For one thing, it would require me to start the war over again. I'd have to return to Pearl Harbor, before Pearl Harbor, and that didn't have much allure. I'm following that Doris Kearns Goodwin injunction that you should decide who you want to spend the next few years of your life with.

But the travel's good if you go to the Pacific.

It's not that good. Okinawa, Iwo Jima, the Marshall Islands ... it can't be as good as it was for Europe. The food got better and better as the war went on (laughs)...

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