Was Stephen Ambrose a To**er?

#1
I've just finished reading "Band of Brothers" and can't help feeling that the man takes every opportunity to make Britfor out to be second rate.

In other works he also seems to have an abiding contempt (less Pegasus Bridge) for anything that we Brits did with endless unnecessary jibes and anecdotal boll*cks.

He seems to have become the patron saint of popular fact based WW2 writing. I think he may well have been a Grade 1 to**er who shows little respect for the massive contribution (relative to our size and situation) that Britain made in WW2

Stephen Ambrose - To**er - Discuss.
 
#2
He was a plagiarist who robbed from his research assistants.
 

RP578

LE
Book Reviewer
#3
Yeah, I know what you mean. I've never rated his books much, however he presents Britain's case very well in the World At War, especially vis-a-vis getting hosed by the Americans through lend-lease.

Well worth a watch: Ambrose on YouTube
 
#4
RP578 said:
Yeah, I know what you mean. I've never rated his books much, however he presents Britain's case very well in the World At War, especially vis-a-vis getting hosed by the Americans through lend-lease.

Well worth a watch: Ambrose on YouTube
And a bit of a hippy to boot - I had him down as a bit of a preppie style Eastern Seaboard Gent!

Harsh but I suppose on World at War he sums up pretty well what happened to us.

Do you think he may have picked up the anti Brit stories from the US squaddies he interviewed and took their anecdotes a bit seriously? 'cause much of what he writes about us Brits does have that "Military Urban Myth" feel about it that I know we dish out equally to our septic friends.
 
#5
Hes an object lesson in the dangers of writing a tribute and calling it history...when hes trying to make out that spam troops that'd only been in the Army a year or 2 were as tactically good as Wehrmacht guys that had 5 years combat experience and years of pre-war training, he destroys all credibility...
 
#6
Ambrose got into trouble with a number of American veterans' groups (e.g. C-47 pilots) for supposed fabrications, and complaints from other US veterans about his treatment of their British allies - notably the allegation that on 6 Jun 44 a US Army officer had to get the cox of a landing craft to do his duty by holding a gun to the cowardly Brit's head, which was subsequently dismissed as being made up by Ambrose. Difficult for him to counter this charge, since it was made bu Bob Sales, the only man to get off the craft alive...

That story is here, while the same site contains other instances which suggest yes, he may well have been a bit of a to**er...
 
#7
I also imagine that he was none too popular (in the case of "Band of Brothers") with those members of the 501st who were not in "Easy Coy" - he almost implies that other Coys were not up to the job.

I wonder if he ever got any invites to Alpha (Able then?) Coy's reunions? They would have made sure he got a haircut I'm sure:)
 

RP578

LE
Book Reviewer
#9
From archimedes' link:

Robert Sales said:
The first time I saw the Zappacosta incident about pulling his gun was back in the early sixties in a magazine called Stag. I think some writer just dreamed it up. According to your papers, S. L. A. Marshall said it, but I just don’t see how Marshall could have said it. I did not tell him. I was the only survivor off that landing craft.
SLA Marshall was also a proven bullshitter. David Hackworth's recollections of his methodology in his autobigraphy, 'About Face' was revelatory.
 
#10
rabid spaniel said:
I've read most of his books and enjoyed them, t*sser or not!
Having read the link that Archimedes supplied I don't think that I will touch an Ambrose book again.

I could not derive any enjoyment from reading a "factual" book that disgraces the memories of such brave men.

Ambrose must have made some serious cash from these books. In my mind he has gone from being a To**ser to good old fashioned purveyor of the terminalogical inexactitude.
 
#11
All those books like citizen soldiers and band of brothers are a cash in...
 
#12
FARMBOY said:
rabid spaniel said:
I've read most of his books and enjoyed them, t*sser or not!
Having read the link that Archimedes supplied I don't think that I will touch an Ambrose book again.

I could not derive any enjoyment from reading a "factual" book that disgraces the memories of such brave men.

Ambrose must have made some serious cash from these books. In my mind he has gone from being a To**ser to good old fashioned purveyor of the terminalogical inexactitude.
Reading any 'faction' popularist works of historical type should always include watching for a tongue in the cheek. As for 'disgrace the memories', I don't think the old boys from Easy Coy would have agreed to appear in the series if they felt f@cked over by Ambrose.
Take it for what it is, if you enjoyed it before what has really changed. I'd still f@ck Kylie even though that INXS tw@t got there first.....
 
#13
Archimedes said:
Ambrose got into trouble with a number of American veterans' groups (e.g. C-47 pilots) for supposed fabrications, and complaints from other US veterans about his treatment of their British allies - notably the allegation that on 6 Jun 44 a US Army officer had to get the cox of a landing craft to do his duty by holding a gun to the cowardly Brit's head, which was subsequently dismissed as being made up by Ambrose. Difficult for him to counter this charge, since it was made bu Bob Sales, the only man to get off the craft alive...

That story is here, while the same site contains other instances which suggest yes, he may well have been a bit of a to**er...
Ambrose is a liar.
The fabricated landing craft incedent proves that. I saw an interview with the only survivor from that landingcraft who told Ambrose he was wrong. Ambrose pretty much shrugged it off and couldn't care less.
Ambrose's habit of tilting history to his own agenda (anti British) discredits anything he has to say.
It's virtually impossible to believe anything written by him without independant verification. Worthless tripe at best, deliberate lies pretty much sums up his version of history.
Worst of all his lies are a slur on thousands who died in service of their respective countries.
 
#14
rabid spaniel said:
FARMBOY said:
rabid spaniel said:
I've read most of his books and enjoyed them, t*sser or not!
Having read the link that Archimedes supplied I don't think that I will touch an Ambrose book again.

I could not derive any enjoyment from reading a "factual" book that disgraces the memories of such brave men.

Ambrose must have made some serious cash from these books. In my mind he has gone from being a To**ser to good old fashioned purveyor of the terminalogical inexactitude.
Reading any 'faction' popularist works of historical type should always include watching for a tongue in the cheek. As for 'disgrace the memories', I don't think the old boys from Easy Coy would have agreed to appear in the series if they felt f@cked over by Ambrose.
Take it for what it is, if you enjoyed it before what has really changed. I'd still f@ck Kylie even though that INXS tw@t got there first.....
Even if Kylie turned out to be a bloke :D

Ambrose didn't p*ss off Easy Coy sure but what about the rest of the 501st for example?

He told lies about clearly identifiable personel who cannot defend their memories - that is where I see the disgrace.
 
#15
We discussed this in a Thread a while back, can anyone find it? and yes, to answer your question he Was a Tosser! God Rest His Soul...
 
#16
If you think Ambrose hates the British (although there is a distinct slant against us in Band of Brothers), try reading anything by Leon Uris, particularly Exodus and Trinity - now there's a Brit hater for you!
 
#17
rabid spaniel said:
I've read most of his books and enjoyed them, t*sser or not!
I agree. Band of Brothers is an excellent read and,as a narrative, very compelling.

Anyone know where I can find written evidence of his ANTI British agenda? My thoughts are that

a. In terms of objectivity - well, he is American!
b. In the Battle for Europe (France, Belgium, Holland, western Germany), the US committed by far the greater proportion of men and materiel.
c. The spat between Montgomery and Eisenhower on the strategic direction of the European campaign is well known and confirmed that UK was very much the junior partner.

Thoughts anyone?
 
#18
Well going by his Book on D-Day, you would hardly know the Brits had anything to do with it, when we are mentioned, we had everything easy and some 5 year old cub scouts opposing our beaches armed only with catapults firing potato pellets in comparison with the American beaches... the slagging he gives the Brits over Caen also is pretty much uncalled for, yes Monty was cautious as he didn't want to lose more men than he had to but got the job done, the same can be said about Basrah in the Iraq War, the job got done with minimum British casualties...

British Units penetrated further than any other Units on D-Day bar a couple of the Canadian ones, why the chap just couldn't accept that they were all in that Hell together! he mentions the Rangers taking the cliff top positions, he fails to recall that they were trained to do so by the Brits in the Scottish Highlands who actually encouraged the Rangers' Bravado and Daring out of them...

Read "Castle Commando by Donald Gilchrist" one of the only books that goes into detail about the Commando Training in Scotland, the Rangers were grateful to the British Commando training Team at Achnacary House, as they credited their time there with their ability to do what they did from D-Day onwards.
 
#19
slab said:
rabid spaniel said:
I've read most of his books and enjoyed them, t*sser or not!
I agree. Band of Brothers is an excellent read and,as a narrative, very compelling.

Anyone know where I can find written evidence of his ANTI British agenda? My thoughts are that

a. In terms of objectivity - well, he is American!
b. In the Battle for Europe (France, Belgium, Holland, western Germany), the US committed by far the greater proportion of men and materiel.
c. The spat between Montgomery and Eisenhower on the strategic direction of the European campaign is well known and confirmed that UK was very much the junior partner.

Thoughts anyone?
Yup in a nutshell Ambrose promotes the idea at every opportunity that Brits are always being Crap and Septics moved through the land with Supernatural skill.

If you want pages and specific instances I will see what I can do.

If a writer is going to weave a yarn then he has no right to flog it as the gospel according to St Stephen of Ambrose.

The book should be CLEARLY flogged as FACTION.
 

the_boy_syrup

LE
Book Reviewer
#20
FARMBOY said:
I also imagine that he was none too popular (in the case of "Band of Brothers") with those members of the 501st who were not in "Easy Coy" - he almost implies that other Coys were not up to the job.
Some very good pieces on Ambrose and the Band of Brothers on 'Trigger Time' a website run by Mark Bando who is a bit of an authority on the 101AB and has published a few books on them and knows a few of the Easy coy men before Ambrose's books came out

About Band of Brothers

Better understanding of the whole by detailed examination of the few was the goal of the book as well as the miniseries, and in that, the series has succeeded. The viewer must just bear in mind that there were 26 other Parachute Infantry rifle companies in the 101st Airborne, including other 'Easy' Companies in the 501 and 502 PIRs, and 327th GIR. The company depicted in the series was arguably 'Average', in the sense of being typical among those 27 total PIR companies of the 101st. They were arguably not the most decorated, verifiably not the most wounded, did not suffer the most killed and were not in as many days of contact with the enemy as certain other companies of the WW2 101st Airborne Division. Some other companies killed more Germans too. Nobody is more acutely aware of these facts than the E Co. survivors themselves, and I sense that they are both honored and embarassed at being singled out for this attention, because they realize that all or most of the other 26 rifle companies deserve equal attention and recognition.

About Easy holding Bastogne almost single handed

Easy Company was not in much combat for the first fourteen days it was at Bastogne.
One killed and five men wounded in 14 days is not an indication of heavy fighting or heavy losses. Presumably an even larger number became frozen feet cases during this time period. So Easy suffered in the severe weather conditions, but so did all the other rifle companies of the 101st Airborne, and most of them saw more contact with the enemy as well.

When the General McAuliffe character arrived and talked with Strayer, Winters, Nixon and others, he made a statement before departing :"Your 1st battalion just pulled out of Foy." The line SHOULD have read "Your 1st battalion just pulled out of NOVILLE." There was NO MENTION of Noville, (where 1st battalion had it's finest hour), until a brief reference to 2nd Battalion passing through it in mid January. This is just another example of slighting any and all other units of the 101st besides Easy Coy

A few minutes later, in dialogue from Eugene Roe, he also remarks about first battalion pulling out of FOY. Foy was not nearly as far into enemy territory as Noville, and in fact was merely the last stop for 1st Battalion on their way back to relative safety south of the Foy-Bizory Road. The series also made it look like Foy was attacked and taken only once during the Dec-Jan battles north of Bastogne. In fact, D, G, and H companies had taken and retaken Foy a half dozen times during those weeks, and Easy Co didn't go in until 13 January, which was the LAST time the village was taken

Also during McAuliffe's depicted visit to 2nd Battalion, the Winters character tells him "We've been taking a lot of hits." He couldn't have been talking about Easy company, which had exactly two men wounded and another (Julian) SWA, later changed to DOW, up until the 22nd of December. Since this scene took place before the weather cleared on 23rd December, Company E had taken exactly three hits (Carson and Welling were WIA on 21 December). F company had lost 12 (including 3 dead) by the 22nd, and D Co. had lost 2 killed and one wounded by the 22nd of December. 2nd Bn HQ Co. had lost 6 WIA. Thus total casualties for the entire 2nd battalion, 506th PIR, from 18-23 December, 1944, were 23, of which 6 were killed and 17 wounded. During the same time period, HQ Co 1st Bn, A Co., and C Company, each lost more men than all of the 2nd Battalion companies, combined.

Berchesgarten

Viewers should be aware that some controversy arose amongst 506th survivors, over Ambrose's book, when he suggested that Easy 506th took the town of Berchtesgaden and that this was accomplished without firing a shot. The 3rd battalion of the 506th came into Berchtesgaden on a different route of approach, and they came under fire from the right flank by two German 88mm artillery crews. As a result of this enemy fire, they lost Nick Kozovsky (HQ Co.3rd Bn), and Claude Rankin (Co.H) both KIA, and William C. Knox of Co. I, wounded. Members of Co. H attacked and chased the German crews away. So, certain 'H' Co. officers have voiced outrage over the implication that Easy took Berchtesgaden and even more at the implication that this was accomplished without loss. Also, don't forget that a battalion from the U.S. 3rd Infantry Division was in Berchtesgaden and the Berghof complex for about four days before the next Allied troops came on the scene. They were followed by the French 2nd Armored Division, then 1st Battalion of the 506th, led by Company 'C'. The French were the first Allied troops into the Eagle's Nest at the top of Kehlstein mountain, followed by C/506th, and members of the 321st GFA battalion. There was no need for the late-arriving Easy Co. to enter the Kehlstein house with weapons at the ready; it had been secured two days before, by another battalion.

As to Ambrose my impression (T_B_S not Mark Bando!!) is that he brought history to the masses but as an actual historian in many areas he was found wanting
He seems to me to mix up the basics such as armerment and equipment and he seems to have a slight anti British agenda he seems to forget the German Army in France in 1944 had been decimated by the fighting in Russia and wasn't the German army and airforce we had been fighting for 3 years previously
I'm sure if our homeland had been spared bombings and we hadn't fought half way round the world we to could have had thousands of men and material fresh from the factories

Link to Trigger time
http://www.101airborneww2.com/index.html
 

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