New York: Simon & Schuster, 2002. First Printing [Stated]. Hardcover. xvi, 265,  pages. Index. One of the most popular historians of our time looks back on his life--and on America's history--in a valediction that powerfully weaves together personal experience and historical insights. After touching on the founding fathers, the Battle of New Orleans, the early encounters with the Plains Indians, and topics up to the present day, Ambrose's last chapter is entitled "America's Secrets of Success. " Stephen E. Ambrose reflects on his career as an historian and postulates just what an historian's job is all about. Stephen Edward Ambrose (January 10, 1936 – October 13, 2002) was an American historian, most noted for his biographies of U.S. Presidents Dwight D. Eisenhower and Richard Nixon. He was a longtime professor of history at the University of New Orleans and the author of many bestselling volumes of American popular history. In a review of To America: Personal Reflections of an Historian for The New York Times, high school teacher William Everdell credited the historian with reaching "an important lay audience without endorsing its every prejudice. He founded the Eisenhower Center at the University of New Orleans in 1989 serving as its director until 1994. The center's first efforts involved the collection of oral histories from World War II veterans about their experiences, particularly any participation in D-Day. By the time of publication of Ambrose's D-Day, June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II, in 1994, the center had collected more than 1,200 oral histories. In To America, Stephen E. Ambrose, one of the country's most influential historians, reflects on his long career as an American historian and explains what an historian's job is all about. He celebrates America's spirit, which has carried us so far. He confronts its failures and struggles. As always in his much acclaimed work, Ambrose brings alive the men and women, famous and not, who have peopled our history and made the United States a model for the world. Taking a few swings at today's political correctness, as well as his own early biases, Ambrose grapples with the country's historic sins of racism, its neglect and ill treatment of Native Americans, and its tragic errors (such as the war in Vietnam, which he ardently opposed on campus, where he was a professor). He reflects on some of the country's early founders who were progressive thinkers while living a contradiction as slaveholders, great men such as Washington and Jefferson. He contemplates the genius of Andrew Jackson's defeat of a vastly superior British force with a ragtag army in the War of 1812. He describes the grueling journey that Lewis and Clark made to open up the country, and the building of the railroad that joined it and produced great riches for a few barons. Ambrose explains the misunderstood presidency of Ulysses S. Grant, records the country's assumption of world power under the leadership of Theodore Roosevelt, and extols its heroic victory of World War II. He writes about women's rights and civil rights and immigration, founding museums, and nation- building. He contrasts the presidencies of Dwight Eisenhower, John F. Kennedy, Richard Nixon, and Lyndon B. Johnson. Throughout, Ambrose celebrates the unflappable American spirit. Most important, Ambrose writes about writing history. "The last five letters of the word 'history' tell us that it is an account of the past that is about people and what they did, which is what makes it the most fascinating of subjects." To America is an instant classic for all those interested in history, patriotism, and the love of writing. Condition: Very good / Very good.
Keywords: Richard M. Nixon, Historians, Ulysses S. Grant, Theodore Roosevelt, Democracy, Dwight Eisenhower, Vietnam War, Pegasus Bridge, D-Day, Civil War, William Hesseltine, Peacekeepting, Racism, Transcontinental Railroad