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by Stephen E. Ambrose "AT THE BEGINNING of World War II, in September 1939, the Western democracies were woefully unprepared for the challenge the totalitarians hurled at them..." (more)
Key Phrases: beach obstacles, trench foot, World War, Third Army, Easy Company (more...)
(53 customer reviews)    

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Editorial Reviews
The Victors is like a compilation of Stephen E. Ambrose's greatest hits, drawing heavily from his biography of General Dwight D. Eisenhower and several military histories that recount the events of the Allied push across the European continent in 1944 and 1945 from the frontline trooper's perspective. The narrative is vintage Ambrose, full of engaging yet workmanlike prose that conveys the epic scope of its subject while paying careful attention to the details of the often inglorious lives of the GIs. Eisenhower looms large over this book, but it's the ordinary soldiers and their experiences who give the story real life. Readers who have already dipped into the Ambrose library may find sections of The Victors redundant, but for those who want an adept overview of what Ike and his men accomplished, this is a great place to start. --John J. Miller

From Publishers Weekly
Ambrose has established himself as both a major biographer of Dwight Eisenhower and the definitive chronicler of America's combat soldiers in the D-Day campaign of 1944-45. But after Citizen Soldiers, he'd sworn off war and given away his WWII books. Then his editor convinced him to do "a book on Ike and the GIs, drawing on my previous writings"Asuch as Citizen Soldiers, D-Day and The Supreme Commander. "Alice Mayhew made me do it," Ambrose writes here. Readers familiar with Ambrose's work will find familiar set pieces, familiar anecdotes, even familiar phrases, but this is more than a clip job. It stands on its own as the story of the GIs who fought their way from Normandy's beaches and hedgerows across Europe. Few were prepared for combat against a Wehrmacht that was dangerous even in decline, and both enlisted men and officers learned through hard-earned experience. While admiring Eisenhower's character and generally affirming his performance as supreme Allied commander, Ambrose is sharply critical of such costly slugging matches as the one in the Huertgen Forest, which continued during the fall and winter of 1944 on orders from senior officers unaware of conditions in the front lines and unable to develop an alternative to frontal assault. But by the final thrust into Germany in the spring of 1945, the U.S. Army's fighting power was second to none. Once more, Ambrose does what few others do as wellAvividly portray the sacrifices and achievements of democracy's army.
Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.

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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful:

Wonderful Overview of Americans Helping Liberate Europe!, October 1, 2000
Reviewer:Barron Laycock "Labradorman" (Temple, New Hampshire United States) - See all my reviews
No one has been more prolific or entertaining in his efforts to bring the gritty, unit-level personal experiences of the Allied drive from Normandy into Germany to the public's attention than Stephen Ambrose. In his series of books including "D-Day: June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War Two", "Citizen Soldiers", "Band Of Brothers", and the present book, "The Victors", he has masterfully employed a little-known treasure trove of personal interviews with thousands of Allied soldiers to marshal an absolutely absorbing, captivating, and insightful treatise on the nature of combat as experienced by the men and women in the forefront of action as it transpired all along the front.

In this volume he uses vignettes and stories told in the other books mentioned above to weave an overall summary of the American soldier's experience in the eleven-month struggle to liberate Europe. He includes stories of individual battles, personal privations, acts of individual sacrifice and surprising courage, and in doing so with these true accounts of men in battle weaves a tale depicting the unbelievable human cost of the war. This book, as with the others, brings the life of a soldier into bold relief, and relates the spellbinding story of men in combat in a way made more vivid, vital, and personal than is possible in any other way. By filling the pages with men we comes to know better than in his other books, we watch with amazement as they moved into free fire zones where anything that moves dies, and in the process Ambrose paints an indelible portrait of the unbelievable madness of war.

This is a story that should be told again and again, so we never forget what it took to take back Europe from the beasts who first stole it so savagely, of the men who died on the beaches, who fell for freedom in the surrounding countryside, all to prepare for those like this company of ordinary men who relentlessly pushed deeper and deeper into the interior of France, finally pushing the battered and beaten Germans all the way back to Berlin. This was the single greatest adventure of the 20th century, an epic struggle in which millions of Brits, Canadians, Australians, Frenchmen, and Americans took back by force of arms the liberty and freedom that had been wrested away from the mainland so cruelly four years before. This, then, is the story of how that crusade to liberate Europe unfolded through the personal experiences of a small group of American soldiers.

Mr. Ambrose has become a virtual cottage industry in the World War Two section of your local bookstore, while he has also published works such as his recent best seller on explorers Lewis and Clark. Meanwhile, he has become phenomenally successful because many of his books have captured the public's imagination by being so readable, entertaining, and informative. While popular success doesn't always equate to critical worthiness, in his case it consistently seems to. This is a wonderfully worthwhile, eminently researched, exhaustively documented, and superbly narrated book on the most historic struggle in the long and painful struggle to finally liberate Europe. Enjoy!

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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful:

Good intro, not for the well read however!, December 28, 2000
Reviewer:Paul H. (Michigan) - See all my reviews
Ambrose squeaked this one out in my opinion. It is essentially a cut and paste compilation of "Citizen Soldiers" and "Eisenhower" and "Band of Brothers". If this is your first Ambrose book, you will find it enjoyable. If this is the ONLY book you read about WWII, it is a fair choice, however, if you have read any of Ambroses other work, then I wouldn't bother.

Ambrose clearly has fallen under Ike's cult of personality, and although Ike was a great politician and a compassionate man, he was not a master strategist and many of his decisions cost unnecessary lives in my opinion.

This book trys to capture the sweep of the US involvement in W.W.II. European Theater in one text of similar length to Ambrose's other works. It may be that books thicker than this don't sell well and that is why Ambrose only included the limited material that he did because this book leaves you wanting. It is rich in details about details, but misses other large happenings. In my opinion, it is better to read "D-Day", "Citizen Soldiers", "Band of Brothers" and "A Bridge too Far" and to skip this book altogether.

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful:

The Victors, April 12, 2004
Reviewer:Nikki (Kansas) - See all my reviews
From the very beginning of the book I was enticed. I thought it was very well written and an enjoyable read. It includes stories and things I would have never expected. I thought the relationship between Marshall and Eisenhower was most interesting. I had not learned much about Marshall and Eisenhower's personalities. They were opposites yet worked very well together. Their relationship was based on trust. It is inspirational to hear of all that our soldiers went through during World War II. As someone looking back it helped me to better understand what went on and what the soldiers experienced first hand. I thought "The Victors" was a wonderful book and spanned over a good period of time. I would highly recommend it to others as a World War II informative book.

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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful:

Fighting in the cold, February 9, 2004
Reviewer:Thomas H. Savery (Loganville, Ga) - See all my reviews
This covers the European theater from D day to the end.
The futile battles of the Hurtgen forest are documented. A waste of men for nothing. We gave up our advantages of air power and tanks to fight in an impenatrable forest.
What struck me over and over, was what the men fighting endured.
The supply situation was what is was always in the military. Those in the rear get the gear. Those doing the fighting get the remains.
In the battle of the Hurtgen forest, during a visit by Ike, a company of Rangers complained to Ike about the lack of cold weather gear. He got the Rangers cold weather gear, but not the other thousands of men doing the fighting.
The same applied in the battle of the Bulge. The people in the rear out of the line of fire had waterproof, warm boots, and huge overcoats to keep warm. Those doing the fighting had summer uniforms, leather boots, and had to fight without benefit of fire to keep them warm, or get their food warm. The result was thousands of men with trench foot. The men went hungry a lot of the time due to impassible roads, so food supplies could not be brought up.
The men who endured this were heros.
Ike was the first to realize what Hitler was up to when the Battle of the Bulge started, and got Patton moving on a counterattack plan immediately, which succeeded.
Thanks to Steve Ambrose, the suffering of the men who did the fighting is documented.

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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful:

Sort of a best of Stephen Ambrose, May 25, 2003
Reviewer:W. Johnson (The Mile High City) - See all my reviews
I have read most of the books by Ambrose and the material in The Victors is covered better in his other works. It isn;t bad, but the only reader who might find it interesting is someone who was looking to get into Ambrose's WWII works. Anyone else but the completists will probably not enjoy this book.

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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful:

The Story of Young Boys Becoming Men for the Defeat of Evil, April 2, 2003
Reviewer:Barry E. DeWalt (Redding, CA USA) - See all my reviews
Stephen Ambrose has crafted a wonderful popular history of a tale that should, and must, be told to every generation of Americans and Europeans. This story must remain in our hearts and witness that there is such a thing as objective evil and that we, all of us, have an obligation to stand up for the good.

To that end, Stephen Ambrose, has marvelously depicted the lives of Eisenhower's men in battle. This book is a complilation of several other books written by Ambrose. Therefore, if you have read the others, you may be disappointed by this book. Nonetheless, for the first time reader of an Ambrose book, I can say that this book needed to be written.

The book ends with the following: "What I think of the GIs more than a half century after their victory was best said by Sgt. Mike Ranney of the 101st: 'In thinking back on the days of Easy Company, I'm treasuring my remark to a grandson who asked, 'Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?' No, I answered, but I served in a company of heroes.' So far as I am concerned, so did they all."

Ambrose has compiled quite a compendium of oral histories and preserved the memories of these soldiers in print. The reader will not be disappointed by Ambrose's casual style because it conveys a sense of brotherhood, of victory. This is no stale tome of history which recites dates and facts ad nauseum. Rather, it is a story of boys becoming men for the defeat of evil. One soldier remarked as he entered a concentration camp and saw the harm and hate down to innocents that "Now I know why I am here."

We should also know why this war was fought. Therefore, read this book, treasure it and pass it on to your children.

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