Ambrose Gets More Firepower from World War II History

Article excerpt


By Stephen E. Ambrose

Simon & Schuster 396 pp., $28 Stephen Ambrose would be first to admit he's treading very familiar ground with this book. After nine other books on Eisenhower and/or the men who served under him, it's hard to avoid overlap. Anyone who read the most recent in this series, the bestselling "Citizen Soldiers," will recognize a number of repeated anecdotes and narratives. The remarkable thing about Ambrose's crisp, quick-march way of presenting history is that you really don't mind. Twice is hardly too many times to be told about the bravery of Lt. Waverly Wray, who singlehandedly thwarted a German counterattack in the wake of D- Day. Or how clever GIs finally learned to rip through Normandy's hedge rows. The reader gets much new material, as well - notably, added insights into the relationship between the top brass, personified by Eisenhower, and the front-line soldiers. The positive side of that relationship was a genuine regard for the average GI's courage and ability. The negative side of the relationship was the distance between men in the fox holes and those whose orders governed their lives. Ambrose sharply criticizes the tendency of US commanders to stay back from the front and thus fail to grasp the horrendous conditions faced by the troops. …