Summary and book reviews of The Victors by Stephen Ambrose

The Victors

Eisenhower and His Boys - The Men of World War II

by Stephen Ambrose

The Victors
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  • First Published:
    Sep 1998, 396 pages
    Paperback:
    Sep 1999, 255 pages

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Book Summary

The Victors tells how citizens became soldiers in the best army in the world. Ambrose draws on thousands of interviews and oral histories from government and private archives.

From America's preeminent military historian, Stephen E. Ambrose, comes a brilliant telling of the war in Europe, from D-Day, June 6, 1944, to the end, eleven months later, on May 7, 1945. This authoritative narrative account is drawn by the author himself from his five acclaimed books about that conflict, most particularly from the definitive and comprehensive D-Day and Citizen Soldiers, about which the great Civil War historian James McPherson wrote,

If there is a better book about the experience of GIs who fought in Europe during World War II, I have not read it. Citizen Soldiers captures the fear and exhilaration of combat, the hunger and cold and filth of the foxholes, the small intense world of the individual rifleman as well as the big picture of the European theater in a manner that grips the reader and will not let him go. No one who has not been there can understand what combat is like but Stephen Ambrose brings us closer to an understanding than any other historian has done.

The Victors also includes stories of individual battles, raids, acts of courage and suffering from Pegasus Bridge, an account of the first engagement of D-Day, when a detachment of British airborne troops stormed the German defense forces and paved the way for the Allied invasion; and from Band of Brothers, an account of an American rifle company from the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment who fought, died, and conquered, from Utah Beach through the Bulge and on to Hitter's Eagle's Nest in Germany.

Stephen Ambrose is also the author of Eisenhower, the greatest work on Dwight Eisenhower, and one of the editors of the Supreme Allied Commander's papers. He describes the momentous decisions about how and where the war was fought, and about the strategies and conduct of the generals and officers who led the invasion and the bloody drive across Europe to Berlin.

But it is, as always with Stephen Ambrose, the ranks, the ordinary boys and men, who command his attention and his awe. The Victors tells their stories, how citizens became soldiers in the best army in the world. Ambrose draws on thousands of interviews and oral histories from government and private archives, from the high commander Eisenhower, Bradley, Patton -- on down through officers and enlisted men, to re-create the last year of the Second World War when the Allied soldiers pushed the Germans out of France, chased them across Germany, and destroyed the Nazi regime.

Chapter 8: Pointe-Du-Hoc

It was a nearly 100-meter-high cliff, with perpendicular sides jutting out into the Channel. It looked down on Utah Beach to the left and Omaha Beach to the right. There were six 155mm cannon in heavily reinforced concrete bunkers that were capable of hitting either beach with their big shells. On the outermost edge of the cliff, the Germans had an elaborate, well-protected outpost, where the spotters had a perfect view and could call back coordinates to the gunners at the 155s. Those guns had to be neutralized. The Allied bombardment of Pointe-du-Hoc had begun weeks before D-Day. Heavy bombers from the U.S. Eighth Air Force and British Bomber Command had repeatedly plastered the area, with a climax coming before dawn on June 6. Then the battleship Texas took up the action, sending dozens of 14-inch shells into the position. Altogether, Pointe-du-Hoc got hit by more than ten kilotons of ...

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Reviews

Media Reviews

Dallas Morning News

A readable and necessary remembrance of a generation that met and overcame this century's greatest test.

New York Times Book Review

Ambrose is a superb historian. . . .Illuminating and insightful.

The New Yorker - John Gregory Dunne

Ambrose['s] skill at weaving his interviews into a good read is impressive. . . .[however, one] must rely on the memoir rather than on the 'read' for the hard edges of war. . . .what The Victors most recalls is a movie. . . .The result is that there is little room to examine the corrosive effects of spontaneous wanton cruelty, little room for the nuances of personality or the parsing of fear.

Reader Reviews

Anonymous
"Such an heroic and impressive account of ww 11 by the late Ambrose Stephens has in no doubt very impressive and magnifying"
Michael Chukwuemeka Ezemba
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