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The Supreme Commander: The War Years of Dwight D.Eisenhower [Paperback]

Stephen E. Ambrose
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)

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Book Description

14 Jun 2001
In North Africa, on the beaches at Normandy, and in the Battle of the Bulge, Dwight David Eisenhower proved himself as one of the world's greatest military leaders. Faced with conciliating or disagreeing with such stormy figures as Churchill, Roosevelt, and DeGaulle, and generals like Montgomery and Patton, General Eisenhower showed himself to be as skillful a diplomat as he was a strategist. Stephen E. Ambrose, associate editor of the General's official papers, analyzes his subject's decisions in The Supreme Commander, which Doubleday first published in 1970. Throughout the book Ambrose traces the steady development of Eisenhower's generalcy--from its dramatic beginnings through his time at the top post of Allied command. The New York Times Book Review said of The Supreme Commander, "It is Mr. Ambrose's special triumph that he has been able to fight through the memoranda, the directives, plans, reports, and official self-serving pieties of the World War II establishment to uncover the idiosyncratic people at its center. ... General Dwight Eisenhower comes remarkably alive. ...[Ambrose's] angle of sight is so fresh and lively that one reads as if one did not know what was coming next. It is better than that: One does know what's coming next--not only the winning of a war but the making of a general--but the interest is in seeing how." This study of Eisenhower's role in the world's biggest war is absorbing as reading and invaluable as a reference. Stephen E. Ambrose was Director Emeritus of the Eisenhower Center, Boyd Professor of History at the University of New Orleans, and president of the National D- Day Museum. He was the author of many books, most recently "The Mississippi and the Making of a Nation: From the Louisana Purchase to Today." His compilation of 1,400 oral histories from American veterans and authorship of over 20 books established him as one of the foremost historians of the Second World War in Europe. He died October 13, 2002, in Bay St. Louis, Mississippi.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 732 pages
  • Publisher: Roundhouse Publishing Ltd; New edition edition (14 Jun 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578062063
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578062065
  • Product Dimensions: 3.9 x 15.2 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 2,471,757 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr. Stephen Ambrose was a renowned historian and acclaimed author of more than 30 books. Among his New York Times best-sellers are: Nothing Like It in the World, Citizen Soldiers, Band of Brothers, D-Day - June 6, 1944, and Undaunted Courage.He was not only a great author, but also a captivating speaker, with the unique ability to provide insight into the future by employing his profound knowledge of the past. His stories demonstrate how leaders use trust, friendship and shared experiences to work together and thrive during conflict and change. His philosophy about keeping an audience engaged is put best in his own words: "As I sit at my computer, or stand at the podium, I think of myself as sitting around the campfire after a day on the trail, telling stories that I hope will have the members of the audience, or the readers, leaning forward just a bit, wanting to know what happens next." Dr. Ambrose was a retired Boyd Professor of History at the University of New Orleans. He was the Director Emeritus of the Eisenhower Center in New Orleans, and the founder of the National D-Day Museum. He was also a contributing editor for the Quarterly Journal of Military History, a member of the board of directors for American Rivers, and a member of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Council Board. His talents have not gone unnoticed by the film industry. Dr. Ambrose was the historical consultant for Steven Spielberg's movie Saving Private Ryan. Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks purchased the film rights to his books Citizen Soldiers and Band of Brothers to make the 13-hour HBO mini-series Band of Brothers. He has also participated in numerous national television programs, including ones for the History Channel and National Geographic.

Product Description


"Extraordinarily fascinating. . . . General Dwight Eisenhower comes remarkably alive." --"The New York Times Book Review""Ambrose is that rare breed: an historian with true passion for his subjects." --Ken Burns"Ambrose should be assigned a special, honored place among modern historians. . . . All of us who write or read history are in his debt." "--Fort Worth Star-Telegram" "A masterful historian." "--People " --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

About the Author

Stephen E. Ambrose wrote twenty books on military affairs and foreign policy. Early in his career he was an associate editor of The Eisenhower Papers, and he later went on to publish the definitive, three-part biography of Eisenhower, as well as many bestselling books of military history, including Band of Brothers and Undaunted Courage. He died in 2002. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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First Sentence
As Eisenhower left Marshall's office his mind went back twenty years, to the man he had served under in the Panama Canal Zone, Major General Fox Conner. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great account of a great general 26 July 2001
Ambrose gives a tremendous account of the events involving Eisenhower in the campaign in Europe. He gives not only a great insight into the development of the policy of the allied armies, but also of the relationships between Eisenhower and his various subordinates. A must read for anyone interested in not only Eisenhower, but of the importance of great leadership.
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By David Rowland TOP 1000 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This fascinating, absorbing and superbly written book by one of America's foremost historians, Stephen Ambrose, tells the story of Dwight David Eisenhower whose years of high command covers the campaign in North Africa from 1942 to 1943 and the campaign in north west Europe in 1944 and 1945. Ambrose portrays a man of many fine personal qualities, warmth, sincerity and patience and great skills as a military leader who had the unenvialbe task in the last two years of the war of having to deal with notorious prima donnas like Bernard Montgomery, George Patton and Charles de Gaulle. Eisenhower comes across as a great diplomat who had the awesome responsibility of commanding the allied forces that took part in the liberation of Europe.

The book is extremely readable and it is fortunate that the allied forces had as its leader someone of his calibre who had the most difficult job in the world between June 1944 and May 1945. For me one of the most interesting aspects of the book is Ambrose's description of Eisenhower's stormy relationship with Montgomery who also had great qualities as a military leader but whose character flaws made Eisenhower's life so difficult in 1944 and 1945.

I throughly recommend this tremendous book to anyone who is interested in how the second world war was fought and how the men at the top related to each other and despite their numerous disagreements managed to lead the armed forces that succeeded in liberating Europe from the scourge of National Socialism.
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Amazon.com: 4.4 out of 5 stars  19 reviews
54 of 57 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Ike in WWII 5 Aug 2000
By Candace Scott - Published on Amazon.com
Ambrose edited the Eisenhower Papers project for many years and finally turned his talents on writing a military biography of Ike. The Ike opus is infinitely superior to Ambrose's earlier biography on Henry Halleck and his research and knowledge about his subject is obvious throughout.
The only "criticism" I have is that Ambrose is blatantly biased in Ike's favor and makes no bones about it. The first words in his introduction are, 'Dwight Eisenhower was a great and a good man," which is undoubtedly true, but a biographer should take more pains to disguise their own feelings. There is very little criticism of Ike in Ambrose's work, which borders on the hagiography. Perhaps a bit more of Harry Truman's invective towards Eisenhower could have infused these pages.
Still, Ambrose is a wonderful writer and his works are always fun to read and informative. This is an excellent look at Eisenhower in World War II, even if it is a completely uncritical examination.
23 of 24 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Brillant Overview of Eisenhower's Leadership 30 Mar 2000
By Michael Perrin - Published on Amazon.com
Stephen Ambrose skillfully tells how Eisenhower developed into one of the greatest military leaders in history. Eisenhower was able to lead the Allies to victory WWII because of his ablitiy to keep the alliance together. Eisenhower understood that the only way to achieve success was to build a consensus among differing viewpoints on how to conduct the war. He had to understand British strategies, goals, traditions, and hardships and meld them together with American objectives. He realized that the British have all ready been punished thru years of war, where as the Americans had justed entered the war and had not endured the hardships in the degree in which Britain had. Eisnehower was faced with many strong-willed military and political figures like Roosevelt, Churchill, Montgomery, Bradley, de Gaulle, and Patton, each of whom had their own views on how to conduct the war. Eisenhower was able to work with this men, which was no small feat. It is diffcult to see how another person would be able to lead such a diverse group of people.
19 of 20 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars I Like Ike 14 Dec 2006
By Lawrence Effler Jr - Published on Amazon.com
This is one of Stephen Ambrose's first efforts after working with Dwight Eisenhower on Eisenhower's personal papers (The Supreme Commander first published in 1970). It is obvious that he was still very much infatuated by Ike's persona at this point in time. As such The Supreme Commander can tell almost as much about Stephen Ambrose as it does Dwight Eisenhower. As other reviewers noted, the criticism of Eisenhower's Hurtgen Forest campaign, the army's replacement policy, and the segregated army of WWII that appears in Ambrose's later work, Citizen Soldier, is missing in The Supreme Commander. Thus one can track Ambrose's maturing as a historian with the passage of time.

Still, even this early offering by Ambrose has his unique narrative style and helps to much to explain how a newly minted brigadier general on December 7, 1941 bypasses many more senior general officers to become a five star general of the army, and the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces, Europe by June 6, 1944. There were many general officers that had a better grasp of tactics, e.g. Patton or perhaps strategy, Alexander or Bradley but none had the understanding and patience that Eisenhower had in building and maintaining coalition forces in a prolonged conflict. He gathered able officers from all nationalities and supported the combined effort not national ambitions. This often frustrated other American generals such as George Patton but it was the course to take. He often supported and backed his commanders even other were calling for the heads - again see Patton. Eisenhower knew who he needed for ultimate victory and insisted upon having their services.

Eisenhower wasn't perfect. He made mistakes such as the deployment of forces that led to the debacle at the Kasserine Pass in North Africa, and his over confidence in December 1944 that the Germans were through and could no longer launch a major offensive. However, he learned from his mistakes and attempted to profit from them. For example turning the early diaster of the Battle of the Bulge in December 1944 into an opportunity in January 1945 to squash what remained of the German Wehrmacht in the West.

All in all, a good but not perfect early effort by Stephen Ambrose and an enlightening one as it shows how he develops into one America's favorite historians of 20th century events.
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars another fine effort from Stephen Ambrose 4 April 2000
By Chorng Shing Hwang - Published on Amazon.com
I was not aware of the fine writing of Ambrose until I read "Citizen Soldiers" and in "Supreme Commander" he does yet another job of putting the reader right there besides Ike as he learns, commands and most importantly earns the trust of all who comes in contact with him.
Many of Ike's compatriots questions his skills as a soldier but all are certainly of his positive human skills at bonding a diverse group to attain the goal of defeating the enemy, in this Ambrose describes well. And from this experience at war time an outstanding president is groomed. I think Ambroses' "Eisenhower: A soldier and President" will have to be my next purchase.
One point I'm a bit disappointed is the fact that Ambrose does not spend much time dealing with Ike's rols in the debacle of Hurtgen Forest, the problems with Repple Depple, and the problems with the problems caused by Segragation in the Army, several of the areas that Ambrose had detailed discussions on in "Citizen Soldiers". But all in all, an excellent read.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The gold standard 20 Mar 2008
By jjlaw - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Some might say Ambrose is the poor man's William Manchester. Certainly American Caesar, Manchester on MacArthur in the Pacific, is perhaps a better book. Better perhaps because of its more fascinating subject. Or better because of its more personal tone. MacArthur was certainly a poseur and so the Pacific campaign was often just all about him. And that gets us to the crux of the matter - bizarre as it may seem, this is not really a book about Ike. Or perhaps it is, in that Ike was there, but he was not really there. Someone once wrote that all men have in them a wild red dog, that once let out they become dangerous, but also capable of true greatness, or true evil. What stops most or at least many from letting that dog out is ambition. What drives a proud capable man to write a carefully crafted flattering letter of apology to a superior? Ambition. What drives us to keep our mouth shut at a crucial time? Ditto. Ike was so ambitious that he didn't see the title of Supreme Commander, Allied Forces as the pinnacle of his career, and he was right. So, the prototype of the modern politician, Ike the General here is the master deal maker, compromise maker, a fairly pro-Anglo American general running the Anglo-American coalition. By the fact that he was willing to say or do almost anything to keep the coalition, and thus his own reputation and future prospects, alive - amd that he succeeded, handsomely at times - is testimony to how shut up that wild dog was.

Thus is a long read, and often, especially with the rather prosaic Ambrose style, quite dull. But don't let that put you off! Once you have slogged through the prologue and rather turgid Italian campaign - why were the allies in Italy? Answer: because they were in North Africa. Why were they in North Africa? Something about promising Stalin they would attack somewhere in 1943 - what a great reason! - you start to appreciate this long journey on into France with Patton, Bradley and Monty et al. Ambrose, Ike's official biographer, who met him personally near the end of his life, is about as pro his subject as it is possible to be. Perhaps Ike's steadiness rubbed off as Ambrose also manages to give most of the Allied commanders a fair shake (or benefit of the doubt, if you like). So, little intrigue, a long, complex campaign - if you aren't a huge fan of Ike, and I wasn't right off the bat, you will come away with a certain appreciation of his talents - perhaps he was indeed the right man for the job.
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