D Day by Stephen Ambrose

Discussion in 'The Book Club' started by MrPVRd, Apr 29, 2007.

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  1. Cr@p. The crucial Pegasus Bridge operation gets half a dozen pages at the end and Horsa Bridge is not mentioned at all. The rest of it is almost wholly US-centric. I liked Band of Brothers (the book) but Ambrose had a tendency to come over as anti-British and waltish and this is certainly the case in his D Day book.

    Has anyone read his Pegasus Bridge book? Does it redeem his sins?
  2. You are 100% Right, it is authors like Ambrose (may he rest in peace) that have given Hollywood the foundations for all the films they have made on WWII that mysteriously seem to have been fought entirely by Americans...

    Read our very own Swordman in the Sappers Forum for a British Soldier on the ground from D-Day onwards perspective, the Brits went through so many hard fought battles most of which have never been portrayed on the Big Screen.

    "The Devils Own Luck - Pegasus Bridge to the Baltic 1944-45" and "The Day The Devil's Dropped In - The 9th Parachute Battalion in Normandy D-Day to D+6: Merville Battery to the Chateau St Come" are two books about the British Airbourne Forces from D-Day onwards, they include full accounts of the battles fought in Normandy and mention the British Commandoes among others.
  3. Pegasus Bridge is spot on, he admitted that it was while he was writing D-Day and the few pages he wrote about the bridge didn't do it justice, hence the book in it's own right. Well worth a read.
  4. For a view of the two American Beaches read the books by Balkoski, knock spots off Ambrose, Balkoskis book on Omaha Beach probably wont be surpassed.
  5. Pegasus Bridge is a good read.
  6. It is important to bear in mind that Ambrose was a story teller not a historian, as such his books are readable and Pegasus Bridge and Band of Brothers are enjoyable reads. However when he attempts to pass judgments on the relative performance of the British, US and German soldiers he is never objective or even accurate half the time!
  7. the_boy_syrup

    the_boy_syrup LE Book Reviewer

    It's important to remember Ambrose is a historian of quite reputable note in the USA

    I think he did some times fall into ''hollywood'' mistake of not letting the facts ruin a good yarn
    He also refuses to belive that anyone but the American soldier was any good in WW2 this can be seen early on in the World at War
    His books are easy to read he dosen't ruin them by being to technical and althought he dosen't acknowledge the Britsh and other allies exept to highlight their mistakes if you try and read them in an ''American frame of mind'' i.e. pretend no one else exits they are ok
    He does have a thing about Monty though maybe predudice from interveing Ike and the other American brass
    This can be seen from the way Monty is refered to in Pte Ryan and the way they react in BoB when they hear it is Monty's plan for the Market Garden jump

    See his wiki entry
    Stephen Edward Ambrose, Ph.D. (January 10, 1936 – October 13, 2002) was an American historian and biographer of U.S. Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Richard M. Nixon.

    [edit] Biography
    Ambrose was born in Decatur, Illinois, and reared in Whitewater, Wisconsin, having graduated from Whitewater High School. His family also owned a farm in Lovington, Illinois.

    Ambrose served as a professor of history at several universities from 1960 until his retirement in 1995, having spent the bulk of his time at the University of New Orleans. For the academic year 1969-70, he was Ernest J. King Professor of Maritime History at the Naval War College. In 1970, he was driven from his position at Kansas State University in Manhattan after having heckled President Nixon during a speech that the president gave on the KSU campus. He also taught at Louisiana State University in Baton Rouge.

    Early in his career, Ambrose was mentored by World War II historian Forrest Pogue. He was the author of several bestselling books about the war, including D-Day, Citizen Soldiers and The Victors. Other major books include Undaunted Courage, about Lewis and Clark, and Nothing Like It in the World, about the construction of the Transcontinental Railroad. He was the founder of the Eisenhower Center and President of the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was the military adviser on the movie Saving Private Ryan and was an executive producer on the television mini-series that was based on his book, Band of Brothers.

    Eisenhower chose Ambrose as his biographer after admiring his work on Halleck: Lincoln's Chief of Staff, which was based on his doctoral dissertation. The resulting Eisenhower biographies were generally enthusiastic, but contained many criticisms of the former commander in chief.

    Ambrose also wrote a highly regarded three-volume biography of Richard Nixon, also generally positive, but his Band of Brothers (1993) and D-Day (1994), about the lives and fates of individual soldiers in the World War II invasion, catapulted him out of the ranks of academic history and into best-sellerdom. The mini-series 'Band of Brothers' (2001) lionised American troops and helped sustain the fresh interest in WWII that was stimulated by the 50th anniversary of D-Day in 1994, and the 60th anniversary of D-Day in 2004.

    Whilst earlier on in his career he was considered a fairly rigorous academic, latterly Ambrose was accused of jettisoning his past thoroughness by being over-keen to pursue swiftly generated, commercially accessible products. It is fair to acknowledge him as a talented stylist and story-teller whose work attracted new interest in WWII. Nevertheless, criticism that his WWII books lack intellectual probity and impartiality is certainly relevant; for example, his lack of willingness to acknowledge British, Canadian, French and Polish contributions in Normandy in 1944 has provoked controversy and created resentment. His well-remunerated compendium has quite correctly honoured US servicemen, but has also left a sour taste in the mouths of non-Americans. These WWII works gripping as they are, do not bear proper academic scrutiny, and other than in a dramatic context they must be absorbed with caution.

    It is said that Ambrose organized his entire family into a sort of "history factory" and began turning out popular books of history like The Wild Blue (2000)[citation needed]. He was accused by some historians of numerous inaccuracies, lack of balanced research, and indiscriminate use of uncorroborated sources.[citation needed] Regrettably for an author of his stature in 2002, Ambrose was accused of plagiarizing several passages which he footnoted but did not enclose in the customary quotation marks. (source: New York Sun, Oct. 14, 2002, P. 2)

    Ambrose also appeared as a historian in the landmark television history of World War II, The World at War.
  8. Read it several years ago... avoided Ambrose like the plague ever since.

    The only D-day book I've read that I felt was poorer was Max Hastings' Overlord. Though even that was more balanced in it's treatment of the landings.