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Citizen Soldiers: The US Army from the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany

4.21  ·  Rating details ·  20,930 ratings  ·  464 reviews
From Stephen E. Ambrose, bestselling author of Band of Brothers and D-Day, the inspiring story of the ordinary men of the U.S. army in northwest Europe from the day after D-Day until the end of the bitterest days of World War II.

In this riveting account, historian Stephen E. Ambrose continues where he left off in his #1 bestseller D-Day. Citizen Soldiers opens at 0001 hour
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Paperback, 528 pages
Published September 24th 1998 by Simon Schuster (first published October 7th 1997)
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Average rating 4.21  · 
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 ·  20,930 ratings  ·  464 reviews


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Jim
Jun 11, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"... only in the extremity of total war does a society give so much responsibility for life-and-death decision-making to men so young"

I have read other books by Stephen E. Ambrose. Among them Band of Brothers: E Company, 506th Regiment, 101st Airborne from Normandy to Hitler's Eagle's Nest and D-Day: June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II. One of the things I like about the author is the readability of his books and that you feel like you get to know the people. Their thoughts and ex
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A.L. Sowards
Aug 08, 2011 rated it really liked it
I've been thinking a lot about story structure lately. How many wonderful stories (books or movies) have a structure something like this: Hero reluctantly gets involved in a struggle. Hero faces setbacks, makes mistakes, takes a few steps forward and then a few steps back. Hero learns, grows, and changes on way to achieving goal. Hero has to make some sacrifices, but comes out on top.

I love Stephen Ambrose. He makes history read like a good novel. Citizen Soldiers was packed with information. It
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Deacon Tom F
Apr 26, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Spectacular!

“Citizen soldiers“ by Stephen E Ambrose is an amazing book.

For those of us who are history buffs this is a treasure of information detail to the smallest Degree about post DDay war in Europe. The beauty of the book is that none of it does Ambrose tell the story from his amazing research only but he uses individual quotes afterwards to bring the sections of the story to life.

This is a five star book if there ever was one I loved it and I loved the little details like men in the battle
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Eric_W
Feb 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
Ambrose, an incredibly prolific and readable historian, focuses in this book on the soldiers who made up the ETO (European Theater of Operations). It’s at first somewhat difficult to categorize. His analysis of the men who made up the army could almost be called cheer-leading of the most nauseating kind. But after he settles in, the reality becomes more apparent. They weren’t all great guys and upstanding citizens. He points out that some thirty percent of supplies coming into ports after the in ...more
David Bird
Aug 07, 2012 rated it did not like it
When people know you like history, especially military history, you are probably doomed to get Ambrose books. And so I did, and dutifully read it. The fault of Ambrose is not bad prose (he can write a passable sentence), but in his perspective. I forget the exact line, but the effect is definitely that of "There is much that is good, and much that is original. But that which is original is not good, and that which is good is not original." The fault of plagiarism leveled against Ambrose I mind l ...more
Ensiform
Dec 20, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction, war
A history of the U.S. Army in World war II, specifically the European Theater, from D-Day to VE-Day. Very readable, with lots of awe-inspiring anecdotal reminisces from both American and German infantry and pilots; it’s also clear and informative on the types and abilities of weaponry both sides utilized.

Ambrose is, of course, a patriot, almost a jingoist. While the book is very critical of the egotistical and apparently unreasonable Montgomery, it could do with a bit more critique of Patton, wh
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Rick Davis
Oct 26, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: modern-history
A well-written account of US soldiers in WWII in Europe between D-Day and the end of the war. Based on first hand experiences relayed by soldiers. Gut wrenching.
Jimmie Aaron Kepler
Jun 11, 2011 rated it it was amazing
I read Citizen Soldiers by Stephen E. Ambrose in the late 1990's shortly after reading Band of Brothers and D-Day, both also by Ambrose. I reread this book in 2005. I listened to the audio book version in 2006. The book describes how these "citizen soldiers" came to be soldiers, and what they did once they were. There is some overlap with his other titles about World War II. The book follows the battles right after the allies left the beaches of Normandy, all the way through France into German t ...more
Dwain
Mar 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I gave this book four stars because it is one of the best histories of World War II I have ever read despite occasional episodes of fierce language. There wasn't a lot of bad language but it was intense when it was present.

Ambrose brings richness, life, and new perspectives to a subject that has been written to exhaustion. He relates all of the expected events and gives enough detail to understand the strategic and tactical situation. He helps the reader to understand the causes and effects of
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Matt Hartzell
Jul 01, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Everyone
Shelves: history
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 ...more
John
Jul 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
I'm on a little world war II kick right now and I realized that this book would basically tell me what my grandfather and Kate's grandfather were doing in 1944. Turns out, things were not that fun for them. Although, thank god my grandfather was in the anti-aircraft part of the army, because if he had been in the front line infantry, according to this book, chances are I would not be around. There are lots of great first-person stories of the war here, although it is a little jumpy all around be ...more
Heather Harris
Nov 12, 2010 rated it it was amazing
WW II has always been interesting to me anyway, and this book was an excellent way to understand (from personal experiences) what happened on the European front of it. I really, really loved Ambrose's way of combining very personal accounts of the soldiers on the front lines up through the ranks to those making the big decisions. I also really enjoyed his writing style; though he goes into great detail, he is still easy to read and understand. It's easy to get the generalities of the war and how ...more
John Patrick
Oct 23, 2011 rated it it was amazing
Possibly one of the best books I have ever read. The first hand accounts of every day soldiers from both sides of the war gives a unique history of World War II that at times had my heart lifted in pride for what these people accomplished and moved me to tears by thier sacrifice. This book should be required reading for every High School history class if for no other reason that maybe if teenagers today realized that 80 years ago people not much older than them were will to fight and die to stop ...more
Sangria
Jun 07, 2018 rated it it was amazing
A must read for any of our military holidays.

I finished it last night, gripping and heartwarming & heartbreaking. These men, these ordinary few, is there really anything more to say? I miss these brave men......

Stephen Ambrose is a National Treasure. One day I’ll get thru all his books.

On a side note: I read this with my sons. Over the course of the week of Memorial Weekend thru DDay the other day. I’m not impressed with their history curriculum, so most of the books I read in Autobiography ar
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John
Apr 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Whatever else Ambrose does, he does his homework. There's enough primary material in this book to make it worthwhile just for that, for telling the story of the men and women who were there. It's hung together with enough filler material to make it interesting and coherent, and enough background to make it accessible to those without a solid grounding in WWII history. It stands out as perhaps his best book about the period, simply because it focuses on the people, not the action, which is enough ...more
John Nellis
Apr 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
A very good book on the American campaign in Europe. It has many first-hand accounts from the common GI, all woven in with the big picture of the war. Ambrose also has chapters on the Air war, battlefield medicine, military justice, morale and many other aspects of the American war effort in ETO. The only drawback to this book for me was a little to much rah, rah cheerleading , from the author. Otherwise I really enjoyed the book.
Joelle
Oct 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Joelle Reads Her Bookcase #56

This book focuses on the soldiers who made the great battles of WWII possible. It humanizes the soldiers; it tells their side of the story, rather than being another book about strategy and campaign. It is not a book about generals; it is a book about GIs. The general infantry who suffered and triumphed and accomplished an extraordinary victory.
Jonathan
Jul 05, 2008 rated it really liked it
Was a good book and very informative, seemed to drag in a few places, but other than that a good read.
Terrol Williams
First book I've added in a long time to my "required reading for the human race" list. Be aware that there is some soldier language in the book. ...more
Margaret Elder
Jan 22, 2018 rated it it was amazing
If I could give this book a rating above five stars, I would. I was fascinated by it, especially the anecdotes of the front line soldiers that make up much of its content. My father was an infantry soldier during World War II, who landed on D Day, fought in the Battles of Normandy, Hurtgen Forest, the Bulge, helped to liberate concentration camps, and suffered emotionally as all combat soldiers must. Through this book I came to understand more of what my father went through than I ever have befo ...more
Suzanne
Feb 28, 2011 rated it really liked it
What is the fascination we have with war? Is it the disturbing realization that humankind can descend into such madness? Do we seek out the horrific? Or perhaps there’s something more. In Ambrose’s Citizen Soldiers, I admired the resiliency, ingenuity and humanity of our soldiers in a time when chaos and inhumanity reigned. Because World War II history is already known, I won’t consider the excerpts I’m about to include as spoilers. I hope to give you a small sense of what I enjoyed and learned ...more
Mike
Jan 31, 2021 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I only read a handful of non-fiction books per year (got enough reality in my real life...), I usually only pick books that I think will really matter to me due to topic or author, so end up in a pretty narrow focus area (although almost always enjoy). This one I stepped outside that bubble a little as had been on the bookshelf and knew Ambrose was well respected, and I'm thrilled that I did.

This isn't a typical "let me cover some period of history in depth" that has a lot of facts and takes
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Judy
Mar 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
Telling the history of the United States Army from the perspective of the individuals who served in Europe during World War II instead of from the perspective of battles and troop movements makes that conflict even more devastating.
Tyler Cowart
Feb 26, 2018 rated it did not like it
Shelves: non-fiction
I just couldn't finish it. It was neither very informtive or interesting for me personally. ...more
Peter Schmeltzer
Dec 19, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: wwii
Excellent!!!
Blaine Welgraven
Oct 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
"So they fought, and won, and we all of us, living and yet to be born, must be forever profoundly grateful." --Stephen E. Ambrose, Citizen Soldiers.

I first read Citizen Solders in 2010, as an exhausted graduate student, working full-time and trying to complete an MA in History. Still, few books from my studies impacted me more thoroughly than Ambrose's opus about the American boys who fought--and won--the Eastern Theater of Operations.

Revisiting Citizens a decade later only served to deepen thi
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Don
Aug 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
I have been having a rather unexpected experience over the past few years. There are certain topics which interest me, but on which I've read so much that I immediately tune out when they are discussed. World War II falls into that category, or at least details about the specific battles, etc. do. But since a friend gave this book such a glowing review, I figured I'd give it a try.

The blurb from the catalog of the National Library Service for the Blind and Physically Handicapped reads:

"An eleve
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Jeff
Feb 19, 2018 rated it really liked it
This is a great book, either read on its own or as a sequel to D-Day, Ambrose's book about June 6, 1944. There are lots of anecdotes about events and conditions of the war, mainly on the front lines but also elsewhere in Europe. You really come away with a sense of what it was like for the men who fought WWII.
My only complaint about the book is that Ambrose's outline of operations in Europe is so barebone that you don't already have a good understanding of the campaign. I had to do a little supp
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Jon Swart
Feb 25, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Such an awesome way to tell the story of WWII. He sets up the overall historical events but fills around the time line with stories of individuals to give us a sense of what was really going on at that time and place. These guys and their support system back home definitely earned the title of the greatest generation.
Brien
Jul 03, 2011 rated it liked it
This book took me forever to read...almost a month! It's not that it's very long (just under 500 pages), but that it's dense. It probably wasn't the best choice for a 'summer read' - but it was still a pretty good book.

Ambrose (who wrote the awesome book "Band of Brothers") is a military historian for military historians. If you're out of the look (like I am), some of the details in his book can get heavy and difficult to handle. Once I decided to read this book as a collection of thousands of s
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Stephen Edward Ambrose was an American historian and biographer of U.S. Presidents Dwight Eisenhower and Richard M. Nixon. He received his Ph.D. in 1960 from the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In his final years he faced charges of plagiarism for his books, with subsequent concerns about his research emerging after his death.

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“Ethnic Germans also surrendered. Even veterans of the Eastern Front. Corp. Friedrich Bertenrath of the 2nd Panzer Division explained, "In Russia, I could imagine nothing but fighting to the last man. We knew that going into a prison camp in Russia meant you were dead. In Normandy, one always had in the back of his mind, 'Well, if everything goes to hell, the Americans are human enough that the prospect of becoming their prisoner was attractive to some extent.” 2 likes
“Nor did the Americans find it necessary to wage a ruthless campaign. As has been mentioned previously, both sides respected” 1 likes
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