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am 30. Januar 2003
In seiner ihm eigenen packenden Art zeichnet Ambrose den Weg der US-Armee in Europa 1944/45 nach. Dabei wird weniger Wert auf den genauen Ablauf der Ereignisse im "größeren Rahmen" gelegt, sondern vielmehr das Erleben des Einzelnen GIs, der sich kurz vorher noch nicht vorstellen konnte, tausende Kilometer von der Heimat entfernt zu kämpfen. Die Transformation von einfachen Bürgern in trainierte und tapfere Soldaten gelingt dabei sehr plasatisch. Mir besonders gefallen hat das eigene, dem US-Sanitätsdienst gewidmete Kapitel, in dem den in allen Armeen oft zu Unrecht verlachten "Medics" ein bleibendes Denkmal gesetzt wird.
Alles in allem: fesselnd geschriebene Geschichte, die eine Übersetzung ins Deutsche dringend verdient hätte.
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am 8. Dezember 1999
I read this book well over a year ago, and it still ranks as one of my favorites on World War II.
Mr. Ambrose isn't THE BEST writer I've read, but I've found his body of work to be one of the easiest to digest. Many military books tend to be dry, but while reading this book, I sometimes felt as if I was involved in a discussion with the author rather than reading a book. I thought he did an excellent job conveying what WW II soldiers went through from a personal perspective, pretty damn good since this war ended over 50 years ago and many of its survivors have passed on.
I also recommend D-Day (before this book) as well as his book on Lewis & Clark (starts out slow but really picks up).
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am 26. November 1998
Although the book is an interesting read, Ambrose should be considered a technician - not an artist. I found it hard to get past the fact that Ambrose repeats himself again and again and again and again and again. How many times does he need to mention the marvels of American industrial power?
In my opinion, Ambrose is a nothing more than a high school editor who happens to write about subjects that sell. I'm also unhappy that Ambrose contributes to the collective ignorance about other WWII theaters. Accomplished historians have written about more than one subject. Ambrose maximizes his "return-on-research" by writing printing several books about the same subject matter! Clearly, the Ambrosian perspective is limited to the European Theater of Operations.
This is unfortunate given the fact that, in the Pacific, the Japanese never surrendered and never took prisoners. The Germans were school girls compared to the Japanese. Ambrose portrays the Germans as "fanatics." Obviously he has never read anything about the fighting in the Pacific.
If you want to read about Americans in battle. Read William Manchester's "Goodbye Darkness." This is a first hand account of the war in the Pacific theater. Unlike Ambrose, Manchester is an artist and a soldier.
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am 21. September 2004
I read "Band Of Brothers" a few months ago and even though i found it brilliant and much more insightful than the (likewise brilliant) TV Mini-Series, i wondered indeed if it lacked a little description on the real "ugly" sides of World War II. It seems, Steven E. Ambrose spared his experience on that topic for this book.
As contradictive as the title "Citizen Soldiers" seems to be, it is a leading theme in the book: Volunteering soldiers from a democracy against german soldiers in a dictatorship. Both sides come to word and Ambrose did an incredible job of putting interviews in a comprehensive order troughout the whole book, and still abstain to judge the actions of either. This is left to the reader and thus involves him even more.
Most of the time Ambrose gives insights into the life of (american and german) infantry soldiers and some anecdotes often brought me to laugh, depressed me and sometimes made me hold my breath. Where "Band Of Brothers" lacked reality - this book brings you right back into it. It infuriates you, when Ambrose analyzes the tactical decisions of the involved british and american generals and brings you to wonder, what physical and mental distress the general soldiers must have endured.
The included two-sided maps are terrific for a better understanding of the geography and military movements. The book also contains 46 pages of excellent photograpic material.
I can only recommend to read this book.
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am 15. November 1997
Having sat enthralled through Ambrose's D-Day book, I eagerly snapped up "Citizen Soldiers" without browsing through it. When I did sit down to read it, I thought that although the text flowed well, it was filled with factual errors that indicated a hurried job of indepth research which so characterized his previous works on D-Day, Company E 506th PIR and Pegasus Bridge. My overall impression was that Ambrose's publisher hoped to capitalize on his reputation when they printed this book. Some interesting vignettes and previously unpublished first person accounts, but much more could have been done with this subject.
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am 5. März 1998
A great book which depicts the GI as his best and worst. COMMENTS: An excellent book especially for anyone who had "been there-done that" in todays jargon, especially from the viewpoint of the Enlisted Man or Company-Grade Officer. It is a book which can be used by those of us who lived through it to give an answer to our children and grandchildren when the question of "What did you do in the war Daddy (Granddad)" arises. It causes one to recall similar situations which took place elsewhere (103rd Inf Div-Cactus)in France and Germany. Understandably there are limits as to just how much research and narratives can be included in one book of this type. However I feel that the actions and deeds of units and individuals of the 7th Army took a back seat to others mentioned in the book. There is little if any reference to the Voges Mountain Campaign, or the heroics of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team which rescued a lost battalion of the 36th Inf Division because of blunders on the part of higher command and took a heavy casualty toll. These items deserved to have been given their place in this otherwise fine book. Since it was not to be, recommended reading in conjunction with this book would be: "When The Odds Were Even" by Keith Bonn, and "The Other Battle of the Bulge-Operation Northwind" by Charles Whiting.
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am 27. April 2000
While I have read many WWII books, this was the first one I had found that succeeded in presenting the big picture, as well as individual stories and viewpoints.
Most books may focus on a general and talk about his attack, or his defence: Patton took this town; Montgomery took that town.
Citizen Soldiers, on the other hand, presents the daily struggles, triumphs, and yes, even failures, of the average Joe in the trenches---without losing sight of the big picture.
I was very pleased with the book because I am one of the people who is concerned that we [US citizens] are already forgetting the lessons of WWII.
I worry that we are not grateful for the scrifices paid by an entire generation. I wonder if we could do even half was well if called upon. I am afraid the revisionists will win. I don't understand how people can senior citizens or behave with such disrespect towards elderly veterans.
I think part of this behavior is due to ignorance and the way History is taught. It's one thing to hear that after D-Day, the Allies marched across France, and Germany was defeated in less than a year.
It's quite something else to learn the names of the previously nameless and faceless men who marched, fell, and often died, to learn about them, to know them.
Other reviewers have pointed out some inaccuracies in the book. In my opinion, those inaccuracies don't matter. This book is not about technology, guns, and generals. Who cares what guns were on the Panther? That would be important in a book about tanks.
This is a book about the triumph of the human spirit. This book tells your parent's story. Read it and remember.
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am 6. Januar 2000
William Tecumseh Sherman was quite right- war is hell. The soldiers who went to Europe in World War II to defeat Nazi Germany lived it- climbing the beaches of Normandy, across the fields of France, through the bitter snows of the Ardennes, all the way into the heart of Germany. Stephen Ambrose "Citizen Soldiers" is the story of those soldiers who won the war and freed Western Europe from Nazi tyranny. Beginning on the day after D-Day, June 7th, 1944, and continuing until the German surrender on May 7th, 1945, Ambrose gives the story of the war across Europe from the perspective of the foot soldier, not the great collection of generals immortalized after the war. This is a brilliant book this reader could not put down.
The war to end all wars was anything but a triumphant march across western Europe. It was a bloody conflict in which American soldiers, many boys fresh off the farm or out of the city who had seen a shot fired in anger before, had to learn how to fight for the first time. Mistakes were many. Friendly fire was a common occurrence. Frostbite caused as many casualties as German rifle fire. American officers, eager to engage their German opponents and leading their men from remote headquarters miles away from the action, often launched foolish or unusually aggressive attacks that resulted in tremendous casualties. This mindset often clashed with that of British officers, whose care and concern for the well-being of their men was born out of the terrible cost suffered by the British Army in the fields of France during World War I.
One of the more particularly stunning parts of "Citizen Soldiers" is a chart on pages 280-283 which break down the casualties each U.S. Infantry and Armored Division suffered as a percentage of their original total when the Division entered combat. The three U.S. Divisions that entered the war on D-Day- the 1st, 4th and 29th Infantry Divisions -suffered 206%, 252%, and 204% casualties through the course of the European campaign. Think about that for a moment. In all three the original members of the division were killed, wounded or captured, then their replacements were all killed, wounded or captured, which necessitated a second group of replacements to fill out the division. Though casualties were not as dramatic for most of the other U.S. Divisions involved in Europe, many lost over 100% of their original members. If you were a rifleman in one of the divisions that landed in Normandy on June 6th, 1944 or began the war shortly thereafter, the chances that you made it out of the war unscathed were virtually nil.
Rarely do simple numbers convey such startling conclusions.
Ambrose has done an excellent job collecting interesting stories that were representative of the millions of soldiers who went to Europe to fight and sometimes die so that the world may be free. Anyone who reads Citizen Soldiers will be impressed not only by the terrible sacrifices made by American GIs, but by their courage and their heroism in the face of such a terrible ordeal. This is an outstanding book.
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am 25. Juni 1999
This Ambrose book takes you from the beaches of Northern France to the heart of Germany over an 11 month period at the end of WW2. Most of the book is written off the accounts of both American and German veterans who served on the front lines during these crucial months. Of most notable interest, are the many quoted eye witness accounts of humanitarian deeds performed and permitted by both sides and how it made this front probably the least barbaric of all WW2 theaters.
My only complaint, and it's a big one, is how Ambrose lets his patriotic feelings for America get in the way of his fantastic visual and sensory settings. You'll find yourself brilliantly feeling both the fear and jubilation of the men who took part, only to have it muddled by a poorly timed comment about American military superiority. Not to mention, but Ambrose didn't pay enough attention (in pages) to the horrible fighting in the Hurtgen Forest and the initial five days of the Ardennes Counter-Attack. These two areas should have been given more space in light of the fact that the German Wehrmacht kicked the crap out of us and the Allied situation there was desperate.
Anyway, a good book. I just wish it was more consistent for both sides.
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am 12. Dezember 1999
My late father was one of the Citizen Soldiers of whom Steven Ambrose wrote. For me, Citizen Soldiers was, without a doubt, the most significant insight into that part of his life about which Dad spoke only in general terms and which ultimately took him from us.
For the first time, I understood the reason why my father was drafted when he was and why he was sent to the front lines despite relatively poor health ( and despite my grandmother's pleas to his draft board). I got a sense of how hard that winter living in the open must have been for an underweight kid with a bad heart. I cried when I read about the warm clothing that didn't reach the soldiers --that was my dad who need a warmer coat. And that was my dad who spent a mere few days in a field hospital tent with pneumonia only to sent back to his unit to further damage his heart.
That cold, miserable winter, the doctors told us, shortened his life by many years, though he lived more than thirty years after it. Whenever he spoke about his time "in the service", he did it with a quiet pride that he had done his part to defeat Hitler. He didn't speak of the horrors and the deprivations he endured. They were just the price paid for freedom.
Steven Ambrose, in writing about my father and his comrades, conveyed a small portion of what it was like to have served in Europe that winter. I am grateful for the understanding he gave me about that time. And I am grateful most of all for the sactrifices of my father--Citizen Soldier and true hero.
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