Type: Review
Pages: 4 | Words: 916
Reading Time: 4 Minutes

Stephen Ambrose was an excellent writer of his time. He wrote widely on topics that touched on the history of America. Most of the books he wrote were authoritative in nature. In To America: Personal Reflections of a Historian, Stephen Ambrose creates a patriotic hymn to America. He discusses issues about the founding fathers of the American nation, General Grant, the battle for the New Orleans, Theodore Roosevelt, Ike and the World War II. But his work is not limited to these subjects only; he also includes issues about nation building.

The book serves as a story, retelling a legacy of the United States of America. The book offers a lengthy defense of the manner in which Ambrose pursued and pondered over the issues about the history of America. Ambrose states that the realities and myths of the American history divided scholars, the public and students equally. Some defended the way things were done, while others criticized the manner in which early leaders and American people handled the situations that affected the country. He uses the defense groups to show the achievements of America, including the passing of the constitution and the Nazis defeat. The critics have been used to portray the pitfalls of the American history including slavery, exploitation, hubris and patriarchy (Gerstle 76).

Stephen Ambrose is dismayed that Thomas Jefferson was not given enough audience in reading lists and other mediums of communication, because people wanted to air native perspectives of American issues and because of the fact that Jefferson was a slave owner himself. In his view, Ambrose considers this as a wrong move. He shows that he was a strong supporter of Thomas Jefferson and, irrespective of the negative things or wrong decisions he made in his time, he was a great leader. He justifies his stand by stating that people ought to have understood Jefferson in the context of his time instead of criticizing him based on present ideologies. He writes, “Few of us…entirely escape our times and places, ignoring Jefferson’s many contemporaries, like John Adams, who did just that and condemned slavery…” (Ambrose 213).

In the following chapters of the book, Ambrose follows his line of thought, especially when writing about George Custer, Andrew Jackson and the railroad barons, who existed in the nineteenth century. Ambrose agrees that injustices and atrocities were committed. However, he does not comprehend the reason why the people, who committed those atrocities, should be condemned. In their defence, he says that the people, who committed those injustices, had positive visions of the United States of America, advanced the course and ideals of the American nation. In fact, he reckons that it was due to those decisions and actions that America developed to the state it was. For instance, he gives an example of John Adams, who owned slaves despite the fact that he condemned slavery. He engaged in this activity because he had a certain vision of the future America. He supports the view that personal ideals and preferences were not needed at that moment of history (Hamerow 86).

According to the topic of World War II, Ambrose discusses it in the same manner he did in other books he wrote. He makes references to other sources, especially the three books he wrote in the 1990s and his role as a consultant to Steven Spielberg in Saving Private Ryan. In To America: Personal Reflections of a Historian, Ambrose discusses his passion for the World War II conflict. He also discusses the issue about the heroism of a soldier, a citizen of the United States of America. The book also talks about the importance impact that the WWII bought in terms of world history. In the discussion of issues about the war, Ambrose refers to his interviews with British and German veterans. He clearly shows his view that betrays the ignorance of a historian in military perspective. He writes, “…My respect for all of them shot up. My respect for the American fighting men did not go down, but I did realize that other countries could also produce superb fighting men” (Ambrose 124)

For Ambrose, the World War II is not just about the heroic military struggle of Americans. It is also a time discernible for the end of the felonies, injustices and atrocities that were committed by the United States of America. This allowed a new concept of the American spirit to spread all over the country. He states that, during the World War II, the country started the process of dealing with and addressing its failures and violence. After the conflict, human rights movements, civil rights movements and women liberation movements were established. This introduced a new American society that was open to changes and innovations. People started living in a free society that was manifested in the citizens’ volunteer actions (Gerstle 123).

The book also engages in a religious course where America seeks forgiveness from people who were mistreated including Africans, Indians, women and other nations. This is done by means of Christianity. Stephen Ambrose ends the book by stating that Americans are right to remain optimistic about life.

In conclusion, Stephen Ambrose influenced many Americans to try and learn about their history irrespective of whether they agreed with him or not. He has explained important issues about American history including its early leaders, slavery, and participation of America in the World War II and the role of religion in it. He has also referred to his earlier works on history that have contributed to the gist of his story.

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