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The Supreme Commander: The War Years of Dwight D. Eisenhower Paperback – November 1, 1999

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 732 pages
  • Publisher: University Press of Mississippi; Reprint edition (November 1, 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1578062063
  • ISBN-13: 978-1578062065
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,700,016 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews


“Extraordinarily fascinating. . . . General Dwight Eisenhower comes remarkably alive.”
The New York Times Book Review

“Ambrose is that rare breed: an historian with true passion for his subjects.”
—Ken Burns

“Ambrose should be assigned a special, honored place among modern historians. . . . All of us who write or read history are in his debt.”
—Fort Worth Star-Telegram
“A masterful historian.”
--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

From the Inside Flap

The story of Ike in his finest hours as the Allies' top strategist in WWII

Customer Reviews

It gave me a great insight of a great general.
roger smothers
Stephen Ambrose makes you feel like you are there during "Ike" Eisenhower's years as Supreme Commander in Europe.
Theodore S.
Its not just a matter of him ripping off sources, he completely made up much of his history.
P. Studdard

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

57 of 60 people found the following review helpful By Candace Scott on August 5, 2000
Format: Paperback
Ambrose edited the Eisenhower Papers project for many years and finally turned his talents on writing a military biography of Ike. The Ike opus is infinitely superior to Ambrose's earlier biography on Henry Halleck and his research and knowledge about his subject is obvious throughout.
The only "criticism" I have is that Ambrose is blatantly biased in Ike's favor and makes no bones about it. The first words in his introduction are, 'Dwight Eisenhower was a great and a good man," which is undoubtedly true, but a biographer should take more pains to disguise their own feelings. There is very little criticism of Ike in Ambrose's work, which borders on the hagiography. Perhaps a bit more of Harry Truman's invective towards Eisenhower could have infused these pages.
Still, Ambrose is a wonderful writer and his works are always fun to read and informative. This is an excellent look at Eisenhower in World War II, even if it is a completely uncritical examination.
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23 of 24 people found the following review helpful By Michael Perrin on March 29, 2000
Format: Paperback
Stephen Ambrose skillfully tells how Eisenhower developed into one of the greatest military leaders in history. Eisenhower was able to lead the Allies to victory WWII because of his ablitiy to keep the alliance together. Eisenhower understood that the only way to achieve success was to build a consensus among differing viewpoints on how to conduct the war. He had to understand British strategies, goals, traditions, and hardships and meld them together with American objectives. He realized that the British have all ready been punished thru years of war, where as the Americans had justed entered the war and had not endured the hardships in the degree in which Britain had. Eisnehower was faced with many strong-willed military and political figures like Roosevelt, Churchill, Montgomery, Bradley, de Gaulle, and Patton, each of whom had their own views on how to conduct the war. Eisenhower was able to work with this men, which was no small feat. It is diffcult to see how another person would be able to lead such a diverse group of people.
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20 of 21 people found the following review helpful By Lawrence Effler Jr on December 13, 2006
Format: Paperback
This is one of Stephen Ambrose's first efforts after working with Dwight Eisenhower on Eisenhower's personal papers (The Supreme Commander first published in 1970). It is obvious that he was still very much infatuated by Ike's persona at this point in time. As such The Supreme Commander can tell almost as much about Stephen Ambrose as it does Dwight Eisenhower. As other reviewers noted, the criticism of Eisenhower's Hurtgen Forest campaign, the army's replacement policy, and the segregated army of WWII that appears in Ambrose's later work, Citizen Soldier, is missing in The Supreme Commander. Thus one can track Ambrose's maturing as a historian with the passage of time.

Still, even this early offering by Ambrose has his unique narrative style and helps to much to explain how a newly minted brigadier general on December 7, 1941 bypasses many more senior general officers to become a five star general of the army, and the Supreme Commander of Allied Forces, Europe by June 6, 1944. There were many general officers that had a better grasp of tactics, e.g. Patton or perhaps strategy, Alexander or Bradley but none had the understanding and patience that Eisenhower had in building and maintaining coalition forces in a prolonged conflict. He gathered able officers from all nationalities and supported the combined effort not national ambitions. This often frustrated other American generals such as George Patton but it was the course to take. He often supported and backed his commanders even other were calling for the heads - again see Patton. Eisenhower knew who he needed for ultimate victory and insisted upon having their services.

Eisenhower wasn't perfect.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Chorng Shing Hwang on April 4, 2000
Format: Paperback
I was not aware of the fine writing of Ambrose until I read "Citizen Soldiers" and in "Supreme Commander" he does yet another job of putting the reader right there besides Ike as he learns, commands and most importantly earns the trust of all who comes in contact with him.
Many of Ike's compatriots questions his skills as a soldier but all are certainly of his positive human skills at bonding a diverse group to attain the goal of defeating the enemy, in this Ambrose describes well. And from this experience at war time an outstanding president is groomed. I think Ambroses' "Eisenhower: A soldier and President" will have to be my next purchase.
One point I'm a bit disappointed is the fact that Ambrose does not spend much time dealing with Ike's rols in the debacle of Hurtgen Forest, the problems with Repple Depple, and the problems with the problems caused by Segragation in the Army, several of the areas that Ambrose had detailed discussions on in "Citizen Soldiers". But all in all, an excellent read.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful By jjlaw on March 20, 2008
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Some might say Ambrose is the poor man's William Manchester. Certainly American Caesar, Manchester on MacArthur in the Pacific, is perhaps a better book. Better perhaps because of its more fascinating subject. Or better because of its more personal tone. MacArthur was certainly a poseur and so the Pacific campaign was often just all about him. And that gets us to the crux of the matter - bizarre as it may seem, this is not really a book about Ike. Or perhaps it is, in that Ike was there, but he was not really there. Someone once wrote that all men have in them a wild red dog, that once let out they become dangerous, but also capable of true greatness, or true evil. What stops most or at least many from letting that dog out is ambition. What drives a proud capable man to write a carefully crafted flattering letter of apology to a superior? Ambition. What drives us to keep our mouth shut at a crucial time? Ditto. Ike was so ambitious that he didn't see the title of Supreme Commander, Allied Forces as the pinnacle of his career, and he was right. So, the prototype of the modern politician, Ike the General here is the master deal maker, compromise maker, a fairly pro-Anglo American general running the Anglo-American coalition. By the fact that he was willing to say or do almost anything to keep the coalition, and thus his own reputation and future prospects, alive - amd that he succeeded, handsomely at times - is testimony to how shut up that wild dog was.

Thus is a long read, and often, especially with the rather prosaic Ambrose style, quite dull. But don't let that put you off! Once you have slogged through the prologue and rather turgid Italian campaign - why were the allies in Italy? Answer: because they were in North Africa. Why were they in North Africa?
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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.

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#36 in Books > History

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