The U S Army from the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany June 7, 1944-May 7, 1945
Simon & Schuster, Hardcover, 9780684815251, 512pp.
Publication Date: November 1, 1997
Citizen Soldiers opens at 0001 hours, June 7, 1944, on the Normandy beaches, and ends at 0245 hours, May 7, 1945. In between come the battles in the hedgerows of Normandy, the breakout at St.-Lô, the Falaise Gap, Patton tearing through France, the liberation of Paris, the attempt to leap the Rhine in Operation Market-Garden, the near-miraculous German recovery, the battles around Metz and in the Hurtgen Forest, the Battle of the Bulge -- the biggest battle in the history of the U.S. Army -- the capture of the bridge at Remagen, and finally the overrunning of Germany.
From the high command (including Eisenhower, Bradley. and Patton) on down to the enlisted men, Stephen E. Ambrose draws on hundreds of interviews and oral histories from men on both sides who were there. Ambrose once again recreates the experiences of the individuals who fought the battles. The women who served as nurses, secretaries, clerks, code-breakers, and flyers are part of the narrative, as are the Germans who fought against us. Within the chronological story, there are chapters on medics, nurses, and doctors; on the quartermasters; on replacements; on what it was like to spend a night on the front lines; on sad sacks, cowards, and criminals; on Christmas 1944; on weapons of all kinds.
Ambrose reveals the learning process of a great army -- how to cross rivers, how to fight in snow or hedgerows, how to fight in cities, how to coordinate air and ground campaigns, how to fight in winter and on the defensive, how citizens become soldiers in the best army in the world. Ambrose evokes the suffering of warfare, fighting in the cold and wet, gruesome wounds, combat exhaustion, looting, shooting prisoners, random destruction and more. Throughout, the perspective is that of the enlisted men and junior officers. Even when writing about Ike, Monty, Patton, and Bradley, Ambrose does so from the point of view of the men in the front lines and focuses on how the decisions of the brass affected them.
"Citizen Soldiers" is a biography of the U.S. Army in the European Theater of Operations, June 7, 1944, to May 7, 1945. Allied citizen soldiers overcame their fear and inexperience, the mistakes of the high command, and the enemy to win the war. Once again, Stephen E. Ambrose shows that free men fight better than slaves, that the sons of democracy proved to be better soldiers than the sons of Nazi Germany.