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Comrades: Brothers, Fathers, Heroes, Sons, Pals Paperback – September 7, 2000

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Editorial Reviews Review

This tender book about male friendship will probably surprise those readers who know Stephen Ambrose best for his histories of World War II and biography of Dwight D. Eisenhower. Born in 1936, Ambrose acknowledges in the introduction to his memoir that men of his generation do not speak or write easily about their feelings. Yet male bonding is a strong theme in all of his work, as selections from previous writings on Lewis and Clark, Richard Nixon, Crazy Horse, and General Custer that are included in Comrades prove. What is more interesting, however, is the more personal material on Ambrose's two brothers (their youthful competitiveness mellowed into mature devotion), fellow historian Gordon Mueller ("my dearest and closest friend"), and several college buddies. After losing touch with each other during the harried years of career building and child rearing, these men rediscovered intimacy in middle age. Most moving of all is the closing chapter on Ambrose's father, an old-fashioned authority figure and disciplinarian quick to criticize his sons, but always available to sustain and guide them. The warming of that rather stern relationship is clearly one of the great joys of his son's adult life. It makes a fitting finale to a dignified but strikingly sweet memoir. --Wendy Smith --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

From Library Journal

Ambrose, best-known for his studies of men in battle, here addresses the subject of male friendship. Beginning with brothers (his own and Dwight and Milton Eisenhower), he also describes the friendship of Crazy Horse and He Dog as an example of friendship between nonrelations. He then gives an account of his father that is especially moving. Finally, he describes the friendship that many English and American veterans have forged with their German counterparts since 1945. This articulate and heartfelt tribute to male friendship is wonderfully read by the author; his gruff, Midwestern voice is really rather pleasant to hear. Ambrose (Band of Brothers) is at ease when reading, and this performance has a charming masculine quality to it. Libraries where Ambrose's works are in demand should at least consider this work.
-Michael T. Fein, Central Valley Community Coll., Lynchburg, VA
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Product Details

  • Series: Brothers, Fathers, Heroes, Sons, Pals
  • Paperback: 144 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st Touchstone Ed edition (September 7, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743200748
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743200745
  • Product Dimensions: 5.5 x 0.4 x 8.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 6.4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #341,751 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Dr. Stephen Ambrose was a renowned historian and acclaimed author of more than 30 books. Among his New York Times best-sellers are: Nothing Like It in the World, Citizen Soldiers, Band of Brothers, D-Day - June 6, 1944, and Undaunted Courage.He was not only a great author, but also a captivating speaker, with the unique ability to provide insight into the future by employing his profound knowledge of the past. His stories demonstrate how leaders use trust, friendship and shared experiences to work together and thrive during conflict and change. His philosophy about keeping an audience engaged is put best in his own words: "As I sit at my computer, or stand at the podium, I think of myself as sitting around the campfire after a day on the trail, telling stories that I hope will have the members of the audience, or the readers, leaning forward just a bit, wanting to know what happens next." Dr. Ambrose was a retired Boyd Professor of History at the University of New Orleans. He was the Director Emeritus of the Eisenhower Center in New Orleans, and the founder of the National D-Day Museum. He was also a contributing editor for the Quarterly Journal of Military History, a member of the board of directors for American Rivers, and a member of the Lewis and Clark Bicentennial Council Board. His talents have not gone unnoticed by the film industry. Dr. Ambrose was the historical consultant for Steven Spielberg's movie Saving Private Ryan. Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks purchased the film rights to his books Citizen Soldiers and Band of Brothers to make the 13-hour HBO mini-series Band of Brothers. He has also participated in numerous national television programs, including ones for the History Channel and National Geographic.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on October 6, 1999
Format: Hardcover
As a HUGE fan of Ambrose, I feel a little guilty of criticizingthe work. But I paid for it, so here goes.
It was a wonderfulbook in concept, but like the Kirkus review said, a tad "shallow", and in my estimation, priced more than it was worth -- this is a seven dollar book, not a seventeen dollar book (my price). I kind of felt cheated, as Ambrose recycled a tad too much information from previous efforts, without seemingly doing enough new, groundbreaking, or original exposition on the complexities of male friendships. It feels like our favorite historian "mailed this one in", leaving the hard writing for some other work.
I also felt that Ambrose was a little condescending at times about his own experiences. Can't recall specific details now, but I remember feeling oddly disconnected from some of the male bonding experiences he touts from his own youth, not the least of which was this business about joining this frat over that. (Big deal.) But I suppose judging our own nostalgic memories with superlatives is a right we all reserve for ourselves, and I'm no different.
Nevertheless, devoted fans of Ambrose will enjoy the book...or maybe not. Perhaps the parts Ambrose writes about his friends, his brothers, and his father are a bit too confessional -- more than we're interested in knowing.
If you're a first time Ambrose reader, start with a different book, say Citizen Soldiers, and then check this one out from the library before you head out of town for a weekend of easy reading.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Marie Sorensen on November 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
I picked up this book in the airport as I headed off for a 4 hour flight. I knew that given its author it would be an interesting "quick read". I had enjoyed many other books by Ambrose and looked forward to another.
In this short compilation Ambrose explores the relationships between men as "brothers, fathers, heroes, sons and pals". Similar to his other works, this book examines its topics through the lives of specific people -- Ambrose himself, his father and brothers, and others he has met or researched. What emerges is a theme of loyalty, fealty and connection that is unique and binding.
True to my estimation this book was enjoyable and easy to read. Ambrose draws few conclusions but rather allows the reader to discover the simultaneous complexity and simplicity of these disparate relationships.
In an age where pop psychologists diagnose and prescribe broad generalisms about gender and relationships it is nice to find someone who appreciates men for who and what they are. I look forward to Ambrose's next work.
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7 of 7 people found the following review helpful By Patrick L. Randall VINE VOICE on October 2, 2003
Format: Paperback
Author Stephen E. Ambrose has made quite a career out of his historical writings. Viewed to be one of the most, if the most, pre-eminent World War II historians, Ambrose has written many captivating accounts of the brave men who have taken up arms in defense of this country and freedom. He has also chronicled some of lesser-detailed, though quite famous, events in U.S. history, such as the building of the transcontinental railroad, the journey of Lewis and Clark, and the parallel lives of General Custer and Crazy Horse until their fateful meeting at Little Big Horn. What is common in Ambrose' writing, and what makes the stories so compelling and accessible to average reader, is that he understands the importance of the human emotions and common bonds produced by the strong friendships of the men whose lives are immortalized in history. His seminal work, "Band of Brothers" is THE classic example of this.

Ambrose has chronicled these male friendships in many of his books, but has felt the need to extract some of these stories and have them stand alone in a separate volume on the strength and importance of male friendships. The result is "Comrades", a sometimes slow, but mostly compelling anthology of the power of male friendships that took place in form of fathers, sons, brothers, and colleagues for famous historical figures. "Comrades" is a relatively short book, with each chapter dedicating just a brief synopsis of these friendships. However, they serve as a primer that makes the reader want to dive deeper in the stories behind these men.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Blaine Greenfield on November 10, 2002
Format: Hardcover
Head the taped version of COMRADES: BROTHERS,
FATHERS, HEROES, SONS, PALS, a tender book by
the late historian Stephen E. Ambrose that examines the bond
formed between men as a result of both family and
circumstances . . . he looks at the lasting friendships of
various men, from Sioux Indians to his own brothers, and
analyzes the special relationship between Meriwether Lewis
and William Clark . . . in addition, he pays special tribute
to brothers, including such famous pairs as Dwight and
Milton Eisenhower, and George and Tom Customer . . . Richard
Nixon rates a special chapter and in listening to it, you begin
to understand why he was impeached (in large part because
he had very few friends).
I was particularly moved by the author's last chapter,
describing his own friendship with his father--with whom he
only got close toward the end of the latter's life . . . "He was my first and always most important friend," Ambrose writes. "I didn't learn that until the end, when he taught me the most important thing,that the love of father-son-father-son is a continuum, just as love and friendship are expansive."
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