Matt Hartzell's Reviews > Citizen Soldiers: The U S Army from the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany

Citizen Soldiers by Stephen E. Ambrose
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Nov 16, 10

bookshelves: history
Recommended for: Everyone
Read in November, 2010

This was my second Ambrose read after Band of Brothers, and it was exceptional. In Citizen Soldiers, Ambrose primarily uses the first-hand accounts of a select number of American infantry and non-commissioned officers as a cross-section of the US Army that liberated Nazi Europe. The accounts given by the men Ambrose interviewed are moving, humorous, heart-wrenching and ultimately inspiring. There is no comparable civilian experience to total war, but Ambrose does his best to draw the reader into the battlefield of World War II, and does much to explain why those soldiers are commonly referred to as The Greatest Generation.

The book is a fairly easy read. There are not a lot of sections of long text, as the chapters are broken into short sections that highlight an event or individual. While the soldier at the front line is the focus of the book, Ambrose does spend a significant amount of time detailing the drama at the command level, especially with people like Eisenhower, Patton, Bradley and Montgomery.

This has been an essential read in my latest foray into World War II history. While movies like Saving Private Ryan provide a glimpse of the sacrifices made by America's young men and women in World War II, such works fall short of the words and emotions of the people who were actually there. At several points, I was gripped by deep emotion at the stories of the citizen soldier. I think there is an immense amount of room for debate between pacifism and just war, but in my mind World War II is one of the highest points in American history. The American GI traveled to a foreign land to liberate a foreign people and went back home when peace was achieved, and did so in such a way that in many cases American and German veterans became friends in the years that followed.

I highly recommend the book.
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Reading Progress

11/02/2010 page 119
23.0% "Already loving it."

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