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Stephen Ambrose

Stephen Edward Ambrose, (January 10, 1936 - October 13, 2002) was a popular historian and biographer of Dwight Eisenhower. He had a Ph.D in History from the University of Wisconsin and taught history from 1960 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, 2002 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:

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