Stephen E. Ambrose. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1997. 471 pp. Bib. Ind. Maps. Notes. Photos. $27.00 ($24.30).
Reviewed by Townsend Hoopes
This vigorous and popular historian has written an engrossing examination of the human realities of the II -month U.S. war effort in Europe, from the Normandy landings to the German surrender (June 1944-May 1945). Although he provides a general framework of the "big picture," his focus is on the frontline privates, sergeants, and junior officers who had to pit their lives and skills against the formidable German Wehrmacht every day. Stephen Ambrose's approach, based heavily on oral histories and personal interviews with survivors on both sides, gives the narrative a gripping authenticity. The result is an invaluable "journal of record," a compendium of vignettes that chronicle the bravery, ingenuity, tenacity, fear, misery, human failings, and ultimate success of the roughly three million U.S. citizen soldiers flung into the supreme assault on Hitler's Fortress Europa 54 years ago, when the fate of Western democracy hung in the balance.