by Sukey HowardJanuary, 2003
Stephen Ambrose began his career as a professor, military historian and biographer and wrote more than 30 books. But it was in the last dozen years of his life that he became a best-selling author, fueling our national fascination with WWII and bringing its heroes, generals and GI's alike, back into fashion. He described himself as a storyteller, and the stories he gave us, of Lewis and Clark, the building of the transcontinental railroad, the boys who flew B-24s over Germany, among many others, spoke to regular readers and made American history vital and appealing to a huge audience. To America: Personal Reflections of an Historian, completed just before he died in October, is a collection of essays that celebrate the sweep of American history without shying away from its tragic errors and from the ironies that plague political reality. As promised in the subtitle, Ambrose really does make these reflections personal, weaving in his own reactions to the history he lived through and doing it with disarming candor. As always, Ambrose wears his scholarship lightly; you learn as you are entertained, as you listen to wonderful stories told by a master storyteller. Ambrose reads the introduction to this farewell book, and Jeffrey DeMunn continues with the essays.