Historian and acclaimed author Stephen Ambrose bids farewell to his readers. He does so by revisiting the histories he has written, adding personal commentary, revealing behind-the-scenes events, and emphasizing the conclusions that matter to him most.
The book works equally well as a review of Ambrose's career for those familiar with his writings or as an introduction for those who are not. He revisits the stories of those who developed the American West, excerpting from Undaunted Courage,Nothing Like It In The World, and Crazy Horse and Custer. Ambrose's summary advice is to understand historical figures as complex people, not simply either heroes or villains. He reviews the lessons of World War II, drawing on Band Of Brothers,D-Day: June 6, 1944,Citizen Soldiers,The Wild Blue, and other writings. Ambrose praises the basic decency of young Americans who served in Europe and the Pacific, crediting their behavior with spreading democracy and healing the terrible effects of war. His most fascinating discussions are of his biographies, particularly those of Eisenhower and Nixon.
Stephen Ambrose reveals something of himself as an historian and as a private individual. He discusses briefly his first marriage, his first wife's suicide, and the role his second wife has played in his research. There are reflections on the changes in gender roles over the decades and what this has meant for Ambrose's family. Professional insights include the nature of the historian's role as a storyteller, the challenges presented by conflicting accounts, and the difficulties of researching and fairly representing someone he did not like (Richard Nixon). Ambrose became very close to some that he studied, most notably the citizens, soldiers, and survivors of WWII battles in Europe. He offers a view of what these long-term friendships have meant to him.
This book offers a rewarding experience for those interested in history and in the work of historians. Readers learn more about Ambrose, but not quite enough. There is too little about his first marriage and about his children. There is almost nothing that bears on charges of plagiarism and inaccuracy that emerged late in Ambrose's career and after his death. These matters remain for future biographers and historians to address. This book is an opportunity to meet Stephen Ambrose on his own terms and decide how to approach the rest of his work. It is worth reading.
- Format: Kindle Edition
- File Size: 670 KB
- Print Length: 288 pages
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster (11 November 2002)
- Sold by: Simon and Schuster Digital Sales Inc (AU)
- Language: English
- ASIN: B000FC0VOI
- Text-to-Speech: Enabled
- Word Wise: Enabled
- Customer Reviews: 57 customer ratings
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,035,404 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)