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Americans at War Review

Running head: AMERICANS AT WAR REVIEW
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Americans at War Review
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AMERICANS AT WAR REVIEW
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Americans at War Review
In the stormy history of the making of the U.S. to what it is today, every period has
been delineated by war. Even though the Second World War (WWII) has often been the
backdrop for the majority of his writing, maybe there is no other historian in the U.S. that has
concentrated on contemporary America at war as evidently as Stephen E. Ambrose’s writing.
In this captivating throng of fifteen essays, the author ranges over the numerous wars that
have engulfed the American society and portrays the personalities of American political
leaders in the course of the war. The notable mentioned Heads of State include Nixon, F.
Roosevelt, Mac-Arthur, Patton, Eisenhower, and Custer. In one of his notable statements he
asserts, “…all nations make war in their way” (Ambrose, 1997 p. x). His book is dedicated to
investigating making war the American way, thus forming the main basis for this analysis.
Ambrose’s research is encompassed in two expansive subjects: First, the author is
intrigued by the experiences of the individuals who have gone to war both the leaders and the
followers. In his introductory note, he notes, “I have admired and respected the men who did
fight since my childhood” (Ambrose, 1997 p. vii). He is also fascinated by people who make
big decisions or individuals who fail to make them. The military leaders do not win wars. As
he outlines in SIGINT (signals intelligence), the infantrymen were the ones with the biggest
responsibility for winning WWII. Despite their significance, he argues that the individuals
involved in the signals intelligence controls did not carry as much weight as the infantrymen.
Soldiers who give in when pressured additionally get his compassionate and fair examination.
The author is one of the most celebrated historians in the world. He has enjoyed an
illustrious career over the years, has published some highly acclaimed books. Secure in his
honors and achievements; Ambrose enjoys the status of an eminence grise. Before his
retirement, he was actively involved in radio talk shows, hosted a couple of times to provide
his views in PBS documentaries and on National Public Radio. The essays in this book are as
AMERICANS AT WAR REVIEW
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varied as the contentious topics he has highlighted for the duration of his illustrious career.
The essays may provide the reader a short preview of the author’s scholarly interests. More
significantly, the essays provide a clear view into his vision of historical enterprise, and more
specifically, his vision of history.
In a succinct introduction, Ambrose (1997) narrates how he transformed into a
historian. He graduated from high school just about the time the Korean War finished. Instead
of joining the army, he enrolled in college at the University of Wisconsin. Being a son of an
established doctor, he presumed that he would take after his father, although physics and
chemistry subjects undermined the charm of medicine. He, later on, became one of the most
established historians in the history of the subject. The topics of his analyses are actors,
individuals who suffer or enjoy the outcomes of their decisions. As with a good skit, the
subject of his books may be tragic or comic, although like in “America at War” the impelling
cause of the action is found in the hearts of the characters.
In “America at War,” Ambrose (1997) has addressed many different issues in his
fifteen essays. In one of his essays titled “The Atomic Bomb and Its Consequences,” he
outlines the Japanese-American War and how it was conducted with race hatred and
barbarism. He argues that the war was confounding in scope, violent nearly beyond measure
and disastrous in consequence. In his argument, he contends states, “Each side regarded the
other as subhuman vermin,” (Ambrose, 1997 p. 99), denoting the level of hatred each side
had for the other. He further notes that they referred to each other as monkeys, rats, roaches,
beasts, and other unkind adjectives. War crimes were committed in large numbers by
governments, entire armies, units, and down at the individual level.
Roosevelt, the then President of the United States, led a campaign to stamp
Americans’ authority in the global geopolitical map. Ambrose (1997) addresses the reasons
for the use of the Atomic bomb in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, the events that led to the famous
AMERICANS AT WAR REVIEW
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drop, the political scene at that time and the factors that played a critical role in shaping
Japan’s future. Ambrose (1997) contends that serious questions relating to decisions that
influenced the use of the bomb have been asked over history. The decision to coerce Japan to
surrender or to revenge the kamikaze attacks on Pearl Harbor may have played a critical role.
In his analyses, Japan was not considering surrender as an option. It was considered
dishonorable to surrender while still having the capacity to fight one final battle.
In “Eisenhower and NATO,” Ambrose (1997) addresses the life and times of General
Eisenhower and how he rose to power in his capacity as Supreme Allied Commander of
European-based NATO forces. The author notes that Eisenhower faced many challenges,
which at times were overwhelming even in his capacity as the leader of the North Atlantic
Treaty Organization (NATO) forces. He notes that there was tremendous political pressure
across Europe and from different parts around the world. NATO’s formation was founded on
the need to protect itself against Russia’s aggression. Eisenhower was committed to the task
at hand, and his passion and a strong belief in what he was purposed to play a significant role
in the successes of the force, and its growth to what it is today.
In “The Cold War in Perspective” Ambrose (1997) provides an overview and the
aftermath of the protracted war that was one of the most dangerous periods in the history of
humanity. The War, which began in 1947 and ended in 1991, was a bipolar competition
between the U.S. and Soviet Union (Cravens, 2015; Schmidt, 2015). Ambrose (1997)
contends that although the U.S. seemingly won the Cold War, the Soviets were not left badly
off as it often seems. The author contends that for all their challenges, in 1990, they managed
to develop “140 new missiles, 2 new submarines, and 1,800 new tanks” (Ambrose, 1997 p.
185). These developments challenged the U.S. capacity greatly in the same period, as the
U.S. only managed to build 600 tanks, 1 submarine, and 12 missiles. He outlines the major
differences between the Cold War and WWII, noting that the Cold War was being fought at a
AMERICANS AT WAR REVIEW
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time when nations were able to use nuclear weapons, in which case the risk far outweighed
the aftermath of WWII.
These three essays are quite informative and as earlier mentioned the author focus on
the protagonist from whose perspective he gives his views. These individuals, President
Kennedy during the American Cold War, General Eisenhower in the case of NATO, and
President Roosevelt in the case of “The Atomic Bomb” all played a critical role in shaping
the America of today. The author has also pointed out key factors that played a critical role in
the wars it has participated, and the effects of the decisions made on the ground and at the
policy level. From these essays, it is clear that there are many activities that occur, which in
one way or another contribute to shaping both the American and global politics. The
disintegration of Russia is attributed to the effects of the Cold War. NATO’s rise has also
made Europe safe, and its close association with the U.S. is paramount to its stability both
economically and security wise. Ambrose has given important insights about American’s
engagement in the war over the years. America has always had a motive. Its engagement in
most wars is mainly to safeguard its interests as a nation, both directly and indirectly.
Americans are also motivated by war.
Conclusion
Ambrose has given an interesting view of the motivations behind the U.S.’s
commitment in various wars. He has also given his views on important personalities in the
history of the U.S. engagement in these events, and their contributions to the progress of the
country as a whole. Down from the infantrymen who participated in WWII to the people in
the highest offices of the land, individuals such as President Roosevelt and General
Eisenhower are important in the journey towards shaping America. America’s dominance in
the world is a combination of the events over the years, and it is important to acknowledge
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them as such. All people are important in the shaping of history and as Ambrose (1997)
notes, “… history is about people, leaders and led” (Ambrose, 1997 p. xiii).
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References
Ambrose, S. E. (1997). Americans at War. Univ. Press of Mississippi.
Cravens, H. (2015). Cold War: Impact on Social and Behavioral Sciences.
Schmidt, G. (2015). Cold War, The. Herdecke, Germany: Ruhr University Bochum.

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