A Student of History

October 1, 2007

Stephen Ambrose’s history

Filed under: Wars — John Maass @ 9:42 am

Interesting brief piece from National Review Online on Stephen Ambrose’s history:

My main problem with him is not the alleged plagiarism but his descent into mindless hagiography concerning the prowess of the American fighting man.  All you need do is compare his early book Pegasus Bridge with some of his late works on the same subject, and you begin to realize the man has elevated the American soldier in World War II to the level of mythic figure without noticeable flaws.  He probably reached the apex of his work in Band of Brothers—but note in that book he was writing about one of the best small units in one of the elite divisions in the entire American Army.  In subsequent books, he seems to assume that all U.S. forces were of similar calibre—but this was, sadly, not the case.

One writer who has made a similar point although often overlooked is Paul Fussell, in his book The Boys’ Crusade, “an unsentimental crystallization of the American infantryman’s experience in World War II from D-Day forward.” 

Not everyone in “the greatest generation” was great…….

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