Stephen Edward Ambrose
, (January 10
- October 13
) was a popular historian and biographer of Dwight Eisenhower
. He had a Ph.D
in History from the University of Wisconsin
and taught history
until his retirement in 1995
Ambrose was the author of numerous bestselling books about World War II, including D-Day, Citizen Soldiers and The Victors; 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 D-Day Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana. He was military advisor on the movie Saving Private Ryan, and was an executive producer on the television mini-series that was based on his work, 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 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.
Ambrose organized his entire family into a sort of "history factory" and began turning out popular books of history like The Wild Blue (2000). He attracted criticism, which his colleagues say was motivated by jealousy, for indiscriminate use of sources. 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)
He offered this defense to the New York Times:
- "I tell stories. I don't discuss my documents. I discuss the story. It almost gets to the point where, how much is the reader going to take? I am not writing a Ph.D. dissertation.
- "I wish I had put the quotation marks in, but I didn't. I am not out there stealing other people's writings. If I am writing up a passage and it is a story I went to tell and this story fits and a part of it is from other people's writing, I just type it up that way and put it in a footnote. I just want to know where the hell it came from."
Stephen Ambrose died on October 13
and was interred in the Garden of Memory Cemetery, in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi
An unpublished novel will be published by Simon & Shuster Books for Young Readers. Entitled This Vast Land: A Young Man's Journal of the Lewis and Clark Expedition, it is a fictionalized account of 19-year-old George Shannon, the youngest member of the Lewis and Clark Expedition.
A partial list of books:
- Eisenhower and Berlin, 1945: The Decision to Halt at the Elbe (1967)
- The Papers of Dwight David Eisenhower, Vols. 1-5 (1967)
- The Supreme Commander: The War Years of General Dwight D. Eisenhower (1970)
- General Ike: Abilene to Berlin (1973)
- Ike's Spies: Eisenhower and the Espionage Establishment (1981)
- Eisenhower: Soldier, General of the Army, President-Elect, 1890-1952 (1983)
- Eisenhower: The President (1985)
- Eisenhower: Soldier and President (1990)
- Eisenhower and the German POWs: Facts Against Falsehood (1992)
- Nixon: The triumph of a Politician, 1962-1972
- D-Day June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II (1994) ISBN 068480137X
- Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West (1996) ISBN 0684826976
- Citizen Soldiers: The US Army from the Normandy Beachs to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany (1997) ISBN 0684848015
- Nothing Like it in the World: The Men Who Built the Transcontinental Railroad 1863-1869 (2000) ISBN 0743203178
- Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest (2001) ISBN 0743216458