Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book


Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Stephen Edward Ambrose  

Pen Name: Stephen E. Ambrose

Genre: Non-Fiction

Born: January 10, 1936 in Lovington, Illinois

Sites:


Illinois Connection

Ambrose was born in Lovington, Illinois

Biographical and Professional Information

Dr. Stephen Ambrose was a renowned historian and acclaimed author of more than 30 books. Among his New York Times best-sellers are: Nothing Like It in the World, Citizen Soldiers, Band of Brothers, D-Day - June 6, 1944, and Undaunted Courage. He was not only a great author, but also a captivating speaker, with the unique ability to provide insight into the future by employing his profound knowledge of the past. His stories demonstrate how leaders use trust, friendship and shared experiences to work together and thrive during conflict and change. His philosophy about keeping an audience engaged is put best in his own words: "As I sit at my computer, or stand at the podium, I think of myself as sitting around the campfire after a day on the trail, telling stories that I hope will have the members of the audience, or the readers, leaning forward just a bit, wanting to know what happens next." Dr. Ambrose was a retired Boyd Professor of History at the University of New Orleans. He was the Director Emeritus of the Eisenhower Center in New Orleans, and the founder of the National D-Day Museum. He was also a contributing editor for the Quarterly Journal of Military History, a member of the board of directors for American Rivers, and a member of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Council Board. His talents have not gone unnoticed by the film industry. Dr. Ambrose was the historical consultant for Steven Spielberg's movie Saving Private Ryan. Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks purchased the film rights to his books Citizen Soldiers and Band of Brothers to make the 13-hour HBO mini-series Band of Brothers. He has also participated in numerous national television programs, including ones for the History Channel and National Geographic.


Published Works Expand for more information


Titles At Your Library

Halleck: Lincoln's Chief of Staff
ISBN: 0807120715

LSU Press. 1996

“Halleck originates nothing, anticipates nothing, to assist others

takes no responsibility, plans nothing, suggests nothing, is good for nothing.” Lincoln’s secretary of the navy Gideon Welles’s harsh words constitute the stereotype into which Union General-in-Chief Henry Wager Halleck has been cast by most historians since Appomattox. In Halleck: Lincoln’s Chief of Staff, originally published in 1962, Stephen Ambrose challenges the standard interpretation of this controversial figure.



Ambrose argues persuasively that Halleck has been greatly underrated as a war theorist because of past writer’s failure to do justice to his close involvement with three movements basic to the development of the American military establishment: the Union high command’s application—and ultimate rejection—of the principles of Baron Henri Jomini

the growth of a national, professional army at the expense of the state militia

and the beginnings of a modern command system.

Upton and the Army
ISBN: 0807118508

LSU Press. 1993

Emory Upton (1839-1881) was "the epitome of a professional soldier," according to Stephen E. Ambrose. Indeed, his entire adult life was devoted to the single-minded pursuit of a military career. Upton was commissioned a second lieutenant in the Fifth United States Artillery on May 6, 1861, the day of his graduation from the United States Military Academy, and by age twenty-five he had risen to the rank of major general. He distinguished himself in battles at Spotsylvania, Sharpsburg, Fredericksburg, and Charlottesville, in Sheridan's Shenandoah Valley campaign, and in Wilson's celebrated cavalry raid through Alabama and Georgia at the end of the war.

After the war, Upton traveled abroad as an observer for the army, an experience that resulted in his first book, The Armies of Asia and Europe. He also served as commandant of cadets at West Point and finally as commander of the Presidio in San Francisco. He was highly respected as a military tactician, and his Infantry Tactics became a widely used resource. Despite his successes, the ambitious Upton felt that his military talents were insufficiently recognized. His last book, The Military Policy of the United States, which advocated a number of sweeping changes in the organization of the American military system, went unpublished at his death by suicide in 1881. The book was finally published in 1904 at the urging of Elihu Root, Theodore Roosevelt's secretary of war.

First published in 1964, Ambrose's thorough and well-researched study of Emory Upton's career has proven to be an important addition to American military history as well as to the history of the Civil War.

Duty, Honor, Country: A History of West Point
ISBN: 0801862930

Johns Hopkins University Press. 1999

This new paperback edition of Stephen E. Ambrose's highly regarded history of the United States Military Academy features the original foreword by Dwight D. Eisenhower and a new afterword by former West Point superintendent Andrew J. Goodpaster.

Eisenhower and Berlin, 1945: The Decision to Halt at the Elbe (Norton Essays in American History)
ISBN: 0393320103

W. W. Norton & Company. 2000

In the final months of World War II, with the Allied forces streaming into Germany on two fronts, a major decision had to be made: where to draw a stop line to prevent an accidental clash between the Russian and the Anglo-American armies.

Behind this decision lay another. Whose forces would be the first to reach Berlin? General Dwight David Eisenhower, supreme commander of the British and American armies, chose to halt at the Elbe River and leave Berlin to the Red Army. Could he have beaten the Russians to Berlin? If so, why didn't he? If he had, would the Berlin question have arisen? Would Germany have been divided as it was? Would the Cold War have assumed a direction more favorable to the West? In a narrative of steady fascination, Stephen E. Ambrose describes both the political and the military aspects of the situation, sketches the key players, explains the alternatives, and considers the results. The result is a sharply focused light on an important question of the postwar world. This paperback edition features a new introduction by the author. Maps

The Supreme Commander: The War Years of Dwight D. Eisenhower
ISBN: 0307946622

Anchor. 2012

In this classic portrait of Dwight D. Eisenhower the soldier, bestselling historian Stephen E. Ambrose examines the Allied commander’s leadership during World War II.


Ambrose brings Eisenhower’s experience of the Second World War to life, showing in vivid detail how the general’s skill as a diplomat and a military strategist contributed to Allied successes in North Africa and in Europe, and established him as one of the greatest military leaders in the world. Ambrose, then the Associate Editor of the General’s official papers, analyzes Eisenhower’s difficult military decisions and his often complicated relationships with powerful personalities like Churchill, de Gaulle, Roosevelt, and Patton. This is the definitive account of Eisenhower’s evolution as a military leader—from its dramatic beginnings through his time at the top post of Allied command.

Crazy Horse and Custer: The Parallel Lives of Two American Warriors
ISBN: 0385479662

Anchor. 1996

The full story of what led Crazy Horse and Custer to that fateful day at the Little Bighorn, from bestselling historian Stephen E. Ambrose.


On the sparkling morning of June 25, 1876, 611

U.S. Army soldiers rode toward the

banks of the Little Bighorn in the Montana

Territory, where 3,000 Indians stood waiting for battle.

The lives of two great warriors would soon be

forever linked throughout history: Crazy Horse, leader

of the Oglala Sioux, and General George Armstrong

Custer of the Seventh Cavalry. Both were men of aggression and supreme

courage. Both had become leaders in their societies at

very early ages

both had been stripped of power, and in

disgrace had worked to earn back the respect of

their people. And to both of them, the unspoiled

grandeur of the Great Plains of North America was an

irresistible challenge. Their parallel lives would

pave the way, in a manner unknown to either, for

an inevitable clash between two nations fighting

for possession of the open

prairie.

Eisenhower: Soldier, General of the Army, President-Elect, 1890-1952
ISBN: 0671440691

Simon & Schuster. 1983

Stephen E. Ambrose draws upon extensive sources, an unprecedented degree of scholarship, and numerous interviews with Dwight D. Eisenhower himself to offer the fullest, richest, and most objective rendering yet of the soldier who became president.

At various times in his life, Eisenhower was a soldier at wartime, the Chief of Staff, patron to the North American Treaty Organization, president of Columbia University, and the Supreme Commander of the United States. However, he was also a father, son, husband, and friend. This deeply personal biography concerns itself less with the “life and times” of Eisenhower and more on the man himself, his achievements and triumphs, failures and concerns, as well as his relationships with those closest to him.

A charismatic leader with a high degree of intelligence, integrity, tremendous energy and a commitment to basic principles that drew soldiers, civilians, and foreigners alike to him, Eisenhower was also ambitious, sensitive to criticism, and avid sportsman who was terribly loyal to his friends and family.

Ultimately, Ambrose presents a masterful portrait of Eisenhower that finely delves into his personal life during his presidency, the onset of the Cold war, and as the leader of a rapidly evolving nation struggling with issues as diverse as civil rights, atomic weapons, and a new global role. Ambrose shows what an extraordinary person Eisenhower was and the extent to which many who live in freedom today owe to him. This superb interpretation of Eisenhower's life confirms Stephen Ambrose's position as one of the nation’s finest historians.

EISENHOWER: The President. VOLUME II
ISBN: 0671605658

Touchstone Book, division of Simon & Schuster. 1984

Non-fiction. 1950s. Eisenhower Presidency.

Pegasus Bridge: D-day: The Daring British Airborne Raid
ISBN: 074345068X

Simon & Schuster. 2002

D-Day before dawn. Minute by minute, hour by hour the danger grows... In the early morning hours of June 6, 1944, a small detachment of British airborne troops stormed the German defence forces and paved the way for the Allied invasion of Europe. Pegasus Bridge was the first engagement of D-Day, the turning point of World War II. This gripping account by acclaimed author Stephen E. Ambrose brings to life a daring mission so crucial that, had it been unsuccessful, the entire Normandy invasion might have failed. Ambrose traces each step of the preparations over many months to the minute-by-minute excitement of the hand-to-hand confrontations on the bridge. This is a story of heroism and cowardice, kindness and brutality - the stuff of all great adventures.

Nixon, Vol. 1: The Education of a Politician 1913-1962
ISBN: 0671657224

Simon & Schuster. 1988

From acclaimed biographer Stephen E. Ambrose comes the life of one of the most elusive and intriguing American political figures, Richard M. Nixon. From his difficult boyhood and earnest youth to bis ruthless political campaigns for Congress and Senate to his defeats in '60 and '62, Nixon emerges life-size in all his complexity. Ambrose charts the peaks and valleys of Nixon's first fifty years -- his critical support as a freshman congressman of the Truman Doctrine and the Marshall Plan

his involvement in the House Committee on Un-American Activities

his aggressive pursuit of Alger Hiss

his ambivalent relationship with Eisenhower

and more. It is the consummate biography

it is a stunning political odyssey.

Eisenhower Soldier and President
ISBN: 0945707398

American Political Biography Press. 2007

Definitive birth-to-death biography of President Dwight David Eisenhower.

Nixon, Vol. 2: The Triumph of a Politician, 1962-1972
ISBN: 0671528378

Simon & Schuster. 1989

Stephen E. Ambrose’s biography of one of the most complex and puzzling US presidents at the apogee of his career, rebounding from defeat to an innovative, high-risk presidency, already sowing the seeds of his ruin.

Starting with Nixon’s drive to the presidency, volume two of Ambrose’s major biography of America’s 37th president chronicles Nixon’s campaigns, his ultimate victory in 1962 as well as his first term as President, and culminates with the Nixon’s reelection on November 7, 1972.

Nixon was a complex man graced with superb intellect, creative, knowledgeable about world activities and peerless in his talent for foreign affairs. Yet he could also be manipulative, quick to anger, driven by unseen ambitions, cynical about domestic politics, and sensitive to criticism.

Culled from his private papers, speeches, hand-written notes, audio recordings of conversations in the Nixon White House and much more, Ambrose’s account offers insight into the thought patterns and attitudes of the man whose Presidency was marked by the debacles of Watergate and Vietnam, yet who also began the process of nuclear disarmament and opened up crucial diplomatic relations with China. This is a brilliant and detailed second part to Ambrose’s Nixon trilogy.

Nixon: Ruin and Recovery, 1973-1990
ISBN: 0671792083

Touchstone Books. 1992

Watergate is a story of high drama and low skulduggery, of lies and bribes, of greed and lust for power. With access to the central characters, the public papers, and the trials transcripts, Ambrose explains how Nixon destroyed himself through a combination of arrogance and indecision, allowing a "third-rate burglary" to escalate into a scandal that overwhelmed his presidency. Within a decade and a half however, Nixon had become one of America's elder statesmen, respected internationally and at home even by those who had earlier clamoured loudest for his head. This is the story of Nixon's final fall from grace and astonishing recovery.

Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest
ISBN: 0743216385

Simon & Schuster. 2001

Stephen E. Ambrose’s iconic story of the ordinary men who became the World War II’s most extraordinary soldiers: Easy Company, 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division, US Army.

They came together, citizen soldiers, in the summer of 1942, drawn to Airborne by the $50 monthly bonus and a desire to be better than the other guy. And at its peak—in Holland and the Ardennes—Easy Company was as good a rifle company as any in the world.

From the rigorous training in Georgia in 1942 to the disbanding in 1945, Stephen E. Ambrose tells the story of this remarkable company. In combat, the reward for a job well done is the next tough assignment, and as they advanced through Europe, the men of Easy kept getting the tough assignments.

They parachuted into France early D-Day morning and knocked out a battery of four 105 mm cannon looking down Utah Beach

they parachuted into Holland during the Arnhem campaign

they were the Battered Bastards of the Bastion of Bastogne, brought in to hold the line, although surrounded, in the Battle of the Bulge

and then they spearheaded the counteroffensive. Finally, they captured Hitler's Bavarian outpost, his Eagle's Nest at Berchtesgaden.

They were rough-and-ready guys, battered by the Depression, mistrustful and suspicious. They drank too much French wine, looted too many German cameras and watches, and fought too often with other GIs. But in training and combat they learned selflessness and found the closest brotherhood they ever knew. They discovered that in war, men who loved life would give their lives for them.

This is the story of the men who fought, of the martinet they hated who trained them well, and of the captain they loved who led them. E Company was a company of men who went hungry, froze, and died for each other, a company that took 150 percent casualties, a company where the Purple Heart was not a medal—it was a badge of office.

D Day: June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II
ISBN: 068480137X

Simon & Schuster. 1995

Stephen E. Ambrose’s D-Day is the definitive history of World War II’s most pivotal battle, a day that changed the course of history.

D-Day is the epic story of men at the most demanding moment of their lives, when the horrors, complexities, and triumphs of life are laid bare. Distinguished historian Stephen E. Ambrose portrays the faces of courage and heroism, fear and determination—what Eisenhower called “the fury of an aroused democracy”—that shaped the victory of the citizen soldiers whom Hitler had disparaged.Drawing on more than 1,400 interviews with American, British, Canadian, French, and German veterans, Ambrose reveals how the original plans for the invasion had to be abandoned, and how enlisted men and junior officers acted on their own initiative when they realized that nothing was as they were told it would be.

The action begins at midnight, June 5/6, when the first British and American airborne troops jumped into France. It ends at midnight June 6/7. Focusing on those pivotal twenty-four hours, it moves from the level of Supreme Commander to that of a French child, from General Omar Bradley to an American paratrooper, from Field Marshal Montgomery to a German sergeant.

Ambrose’s D-Day is the finest account of one of our history’s most important days.

Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson and the Opening of the American West
ISBN: 0684811073

Simon & Schuster. 1996

From the bestselling author of Band of Brothers and D-Day, the definitive book on Lewis and Clark’s exploration of the Louisiana Purchase, the most momentous expedition in American history and one of the great adventure stories of all time.

In 1803 President Thomas Jefferson selected his personal secretary, Captain Meriwether Lewis, to lead a voyage up the Missouri River to the Rockies, over the mountains, down the Columbia River to the Pacific Ocean, and back. Lewis and his partner, Captain William Clark, made the first map of the trans-Mississippi West, provided invaluable scientific data on the flora and fauna of the Louisiana Purchase territory, and established the American claim to Oregon, Washington, and Idaho.

Ambrose has pieced together previously unknown information about weather, terrain, and medical knowledge at the time to provide a vivid backdrop for the expedition. Lewis is supported by a rich variety of colorful characters, first of all Jefferson himself, whose interest in exploring and acquiring the American West went back thirty years. Next comes Clark, a rugged frontiersman whose love for Lewis matched Jefferson’s. There are numerous Indian chiefs, and Sacagawea, the Indian girl who accompanied the expedition, along with the French-Indian hunter Drouillard, the great naturalists of Philadelphia, the French and Spanish fur traders of St. Louis, John Quincy Adams, and many more leading political, scientific, and military figures of the turn of the century.

High adventure, high politics, suspense, drama, and diplomacy combine with high romance and personal tragedy to make this outstanding work of scholarship as readable as a novel.

CITIZEN SOLDIERS : The U.S. Army from the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany -- June 7, 1944-May 7, 1945
ISBN: 0684815257

Simon & Schuster. 1997

A look at the last year of World War II in Europe--from D-Day to the surrender of Germany--draws on hundreds of interviews with and oral histories of the enlisted men and junior officers who helped win the war. 250,000 first printing.

Americans at War
ISBN: 1578060265

University Press of Mississippi. 1997

In the turbulent history of America each era has been delineated by a war. Although World War II has been the backdrop for most of his writing, perhaps no other historian has focused on modern America at war so strikingly as Stephen E. Ambrose.

In this fascinating collection of fifteen essays Ambrose ranges over the many wars that have enveloped Americans and depicts the personalities of American leaders during wartime: Custer, Eisenhower, Patton, MacArthur, Franklin Roosevelt, and Nixon. "All nations make war in their own way," he says. "The American way is the theme of these essays."

Two large subjects encompass his research: First, he is fascinated by the experiences of those who have gone to war, both the leaders and the led, and, as he shows in "Just Dumb Luck: American Entry into World War II," he is intrigued by men who make big decisions or fail to make them. Generals alone don't win wars. The infantrymen, as he points out in "SIGINT: Deception and the Liberation of Western Europe," were responsible for winning World War II, not those who were involved in intelligence operations. Soldiers who break under strain ("My Lai: Atrocities in Historical Perspective") also get his fair and compassionate examination.

Although many of the pieces in this collection focus on World War II, Ambrose also explores the Civil War ("Struggle for Vicksburg: The Battles and Siege that Decided the Civil War"), the Vietnam War (an undertaking different from earlier American wars), and war in general- actual wars of the past as well as hypothetical wars ("War in the Twenty-first Century"). He includes one of quite recent times ("The Cold War in Perspective") in which fighting was not confined to the battlefield.

Because democracies employ teamwork, he believes they are by far the most efficient governments for the fighting of war. Ambrose writes that on occasion he has changed his mind about certain big questions ("The Atomic Bomb and Its Consequences"). Should atomic bombs have been dropped on Japan? Changes of opinion, he says, come during research, one of the exciting features of studying history in a free country. "We change our minds when confronted with new evidence

they [Communist regimes] change their minds when confronted with a new dictator."

Ambrose has the gift of making history come alive. "If I told the story right, I could make them want to know." One reads his profiles and feels present as momentous issues are considered and decisions made. His descriptions of battles and maneuvers allow the reader to be a participant.

The Victors: Eisenhower and His Boys: The Men of World War II
ISBN: 068485628X

Simon & Schuster. 1998

Victors, The: Eisenhower And His Boys, The Men Of World War II, by Ambrose, Stephen E.

Comrades: Brothers, Fathers, Heroes, Sons, Pals
ISBN: 0743200748

Simon & Schuster. 2000

From the author of Undaunted Courage and D-Day comes this celebration of male friendship, taken both from the pages of history and from Ambrose’s own life.

Acclaimed historian Stephen Ambrose begins his examination with a glance inward—he starts this book with his brothers, his first and forever friends, and the shared experiences that join them for a lifetime, overcoming distance and misunderstandings. He writes of Dwight D. Eisenhower, who had a golden gift for friendship and who shared a perfect trust with his younger brother Milton in spite of their apparently unequal stations. With great feeling, Ambrose brings to life the relationships of the young soldiers of Easy Company who fought and died together from Normandy to Germany, and he describes with admiration three who fought in different armies on different sides in that war and became friends later. He recounts the friendships of Lewis and Clark and of Crazy Horse and He Dog, and he tells the story of the Custer brothers who died together at the Little Big Horn.

Comrades concludes with the author’s moving recollection of his own friendship with his father. “He was my first and always most important friend. I didn’t learn that until the end, when he taught me the most important thing, that the love of father-son-father-son is a continuum, just as love and friendship are expansive.”

Nothing Like It In the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863-1869
ISBN: 0743203178

Simon & Schuster. 2001

Nothing Like It in the World gives the account of an unprecedented feat of engineering, vision, and courage. It is the story of the men who built the transcontinental railroad—the investors who risked their businesses and money

the enlightened politicians who understood its importance

the engineers and surveyors who risked, and sometimes lost, their lives

and the Irish and Chinese immigrants, the defeated Confederate soldiers, and the other laborers who did the backbreaking and dangerous work on the tracks.

The U.S. government pitted two companies—the Union Pacific and the Central Pacific Railroads—against each other in a race for funding, encouraging speed over caution. Locomotives, rails, and spikes were shipped from the East through Panama or around South America to the West or lugged across the country to the Plains. In Ambrose's hands, this enterprise, with its huge expenditure of brainpower, muscle, and sweat, comes vibrantly to life.

The Wild Blue: The Men and Boys Who Flew the B-24s Over Germany 1944-45
ISBN: 0743223098

Simon & Schuster. 2002

Stephen E. Ambrose, acclaimed author of Band of Brothers and Undaunted Courage, carries us along in the crowded and dangerous B-24s as their crews fought to destroy the German war machine during World War II.

The young men who flew the B-24s over Germany in World War II fought against horrific odds, and, in The Wild Blue, Ambrose recounts their extraordinary heroism, skill, daring, and comradeship with vivid detail and affection.

Ambrose describes how the Army Air Forces recruited, trained, and selected the elite few who would undertake the most demanding and dangerous jobs in the war. These are the boys—turned pilots, bombardiers, navigators, and gunners of the B-24s—who suffered over fifty percent casualties.

With his remarkable gift for bringing alive the action and tension of combat, Ambrose carries us along in the crowded, uncomfortable, and dangerous B-24s as their crews fought to the death through thick black smoke and deadly flak to reach their targets and destroy the German war machine. Twenty-two-year-old George McGovern, who was to become a United States senator and a presidential candidate, flew thirty-five combat missions (all the Army would allow) and won the Distinguished Flying Cross. We meet him and his mates, his co-pilot killed in action, and crews of other planes. Many went down in flames.

As Band of Brothers and Citizen Soldiers portrayed the bravery and ultimate victory of the American soldiers from Normandy on to Germany, The Wild Blue illustrates the enormous contribution that these young men of the Army Air Forces made to the Allied victory.

To America: Personal Reflections of an Historian
ISBN: 0743252128

Simon & Schuster. 2003

Completed shortly before Ambrose's untimely death, To America is a very personal look at our nation's history through the eyes of one of the twentieth century's most influential historians.

Ambrose roams the country's history, praising the men and women who made it exceptional. He considers Jefferson and Washington, who were progressive thinkers (while living a contradiction as slaveholders), and celebrates Lincoln and Roosevelt. He recounts Andrew Jackson's stunning defeat of a superior British force in the battle of New Orleans with a ragtag army in the War of 1812. He brings to life Lewis and Clark's grueling journey across the wilderness and the building of the railroad that joined the nation coast to coast. Taking swings at political correctness, as well as his own early biases, Ambrose grapples with the country's historic sins of racism

its ill treatment of Native Americans

and its tragic errors such as the war in Vietnam, which he ardently opposed. He contrasts the modern presidencies of Eisenhower, Kennedy, Nixon, and Johnson. He considers women's and civil rights, immigration, philanthropy, and nation building. Most powerfully, in this final volume, Ambrose offers an accolade to the historian's mighty calling.

This Vast Land: A Young Man's Journal of the Lewis and Clark Expedition
ISBN: 0689864485

Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing. 2003

Follows the exciting adventures of George Shannon, an eighteen-year-old boy who, while accompanying Lewis and Clark on their legendary expedition, kept a diary about the day-to-day dangers, harsh physical work, and the extraordinary rewards. 75,000 first printing.