Through hundreds of interviews & the examination of countless documents, the author has created a rounded portrait of Eisenhower in World War II, his relationship with his "boys," & a chronicle of American participation in the European theater. From America's preeminent military historian, Stephen E. Ambrose, comes a brilliant telling of the war in Europe, from D-Day, June 6, 1944, to the end, eleven months later, on May 7, 1945. This authoritative narrative account is drawn by the author himself from his five acclaimed books about that conflict, most particularly from the definitive and comprehensive D-Day and Citizen Soldiers, about which the great Civil War historian James McPherson wrote, If there is a better book about the experience of GIs who fought in Europe during World War II, I have not read it. Citizen Soldiers captures the fear and exhilaration of combat, the hunger and cold and filth of the foxholes, the small intense world of the individual rifleman as well as the big picture of the European theater in a manner that grips the reader and will not let him go. No one who has not been there can understand what combat is like but Stephen Ambrose brings us closer to an understanding than any other historian has done. The Victors also includes stories of individual battles, raids, acts of courage and suffering from Pegasus Bridge, an account of the first engagement of D-Day, when a detachment of British airborne troops stormed the German defense forces and paved the way for the Allied invasion; and from Band of Brothers, an account of an American rifle company from the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment who fought, died, and conquered, from Utah Beach through the Bulge and on to Hitter's Eagle's Nest in Germany. Stephen Ambrose is also the author of Eisenhower, the greatest work on Dwight Eisenhower, and one of the editors of the Supreme Allied Commander's papers. He describes the momentous decisions about how and where the war was fought, and about the strategies and conduct of the generals and officers who led the invasion and the bloody drive across Europe to Berlin. But it is, as always with Stephen Ambrose, the ranks, the ordinary boys and men, who command his attention and his awe. The Victors tells their stories, how citizens became soldiers in the best army in the world. Ambrose draws on thousands of interviews and oral histories from government and private archives, from the high command Eisenhower, Bradley, Patton -- on down through officers and enlisted men, to re-create the last year of the Second World War when the Allied soldiers pushed the Germans out of France, chased them across Germany, and destroyed the Nazi regime.
The book looks at the European Theatre of Operations and really only considers operations from the planning and execution of Operation Overlord (D-Day) onwards, and then largely from the perspective of the US GI (which is very reasonable as Ambrose is a US History Professor).
The book is well researched, based on many first hand account of the War the Ambrose has gathered over 40 years of work. They are woven together into a very readable account of the Allied invasion of Europe through to the collapse of the Third Reich. He looks at most events from the perspective of Supreme commander Dwight Eisenhower and that on the Solders, NCOs and Junior Officers who carried out each campaign. There are little asides from the German point of view. Ambrose is very interested in making you aware of the hardships faced by the lower ranks rather than the overall strategy envisioned by high command – it is a book about the man on the ground.
While it is a well written and easy to follow book it is let down by the lack of addressing the darker side of the War for both sides in the treatment of prisoners and killing on both sides. This omission fits with the overall thrust of the book – to the man on the ground, whom Ambrose clearly admires but not fitting with a definitive account of the war – or even the European Theatre of Operations.
A book worth reading but not one that lives up to the back cover hyping.