- Paperback: 306 pages
- Publisher: Little, Brown and Company; 2 Revised edition (July 8, 2008)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 1551681919
- ISBN-13: 978-1551681917
- Product Dimensions: 9 x 6 x 1 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 75 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #2,464,625 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Other Losses Paperback – July 8, 2008
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About the Author
James Bacque is a novelist, book editor, essayist and historian whose work has helped raise awareness in human rights issues associated with war crimes, particularly spurring debate on and research into the treatment of German POWs at the end of World War II.
His fiction titles include The Lonely Ones, 1969 (Big Lonely in the paperback edition, 1970); A Man of Talent, 1972; Creation (with Robert Kroetsch and Pierre Gravel), 1972; The Queen Comes to Minnicog, 1979; and Our Fathers’ War, 2006. His history titles include Crimes and Mercies, an immediate bestseller upon release, and Other Losses.
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To read the book is a must.
The main challenger to Bacque's research was the well respected history professor and prolific author Stephen Ambrose. Ambrose was considered the leading expert on Dwight David Eisenhower and he proudly claimed, after Eisenhower's death, that he enjoyed a "unique and extraordinarily close relationship" with the former president during the later years of the man's life. Initially Ambrose accepted Bacque's conclusions but soon became the harshest critic of the author he despairingly labelled the "Canadian novelist.". Ambrose went on to hold a conference at the University of New Orleans which included a panel of historians who each presented research papers that challenge Bacque's methodology and conclusions. The papers of Ambrose, Gunter Bischof, Albert Cowdrey, Ruediger Overmans,Thomas Barker, Brian Villa, James Tent and Rolf Steininger were later compiled and edited by Ambrose and Bischof in the book "Eisenhower and the German POWs." Why it took so many "academic historians" from various countries to team up and attempt to refute the research of one "Canadian novelist" remains unclear.
When the Soviet archives were first opened up to the west, Bacque seized that opportunity to research the newly available information relative to his research. The Soviet records are very detailed, often a complete dossier of each German prisoner had been amassed and quite the opposite of the fragmented records of the US army which are often very poor or were completely destroyed years ago. The new treasure trove of Soviet information supported Bacque's original research and he presented that information in his follow up book, "Crimes and Mercies."
Subsequent to the New Orleans collaboration, it was discovered that a considerable portion of Ambrose's own work did not stand up to basic research standards. The list of Ambrose's offenses and critics is considerable, including several journalists and fellow historians who noted that Ambrose, over and over again, failed to properly document his sources. Whether intentional or not, Ambrose had taken the work of other authors and presented it as his own material. A rather surprising discovery that a historian with a PhD would display a pattern of careless and perhaps dishonest tendency that extended back throughout his earliest days and includes his doctoral dissertation. These many plagiarism charges would be dwarfed in comparison to what would be learned about another of author's professional tendencies several years after his death in 2002.
At the time of his death, Ambrose was a multi-millionaire although he had seemed to prefer portraying himself as a man of modest means. Very few historians achieve a degree of wealth approaching the level Ambrose achieved through the many books he authored. Ambrose's prominence is largely due to what he called his "unique and extraordinarily close relationship" with Dwight D. Eisenhower from 1964 until the former president's death in 1969. This relationship would have begun during Ambrose's appointment to the position of Associate Editor of the Eisenhower Papers at John Hopkins University. During a 1998 interview, Ambrose boasted that he spent "a lot of time with Ike, hundreds and hundreds of hours" discussing a large number of topics. Ambrose also claimed he met with Eisenhower "on a daily basis for a couple of years" where he was "doing interviews and talking about his life." With a considerable degree of skill, Ambrose had parleyed his association with Eisenhower into a very successful career as a historian and author.
In 2010, the Deputy Director of the Dwight David Eisenhower Library in Abilene, Tim Rives, was cross referencing Ambrose's research notations of specific meetings he claimed to have held with Eisenhower. Quite accidentally, Rives discovered that the authors dates of interviews were not supported by the detailed official records of the former president. Even in retirement, Eisenhower maintained a very busy schedule the details of which had been meticulously recorded by his staff, including executive assistant Brigadier General Robert L. Schulz. All of Eisenhower's meetings and telephone calls were a matter of official record and did not match Ambrose's documentation. Rives was able to establish that contact between Ambrose and Eisenhower was very limited as the two men met on only three occasions, never alone, where the total duration of those meetings was less than five hours. The records also confirm one phone call and numerous written letters that amount to little more than requests to meet with Eisenhower. According to the former president's son, John Eisenhower, there were never meetings outside of his father's regular office schedule and he also pointed out that Ambrose had a tendency to "embellish." Consistently, Ambrose's claims of having met with the Eisenhower was contradicted by the official record including one instance where he supposedly interviewed him at Eisenhower's home near Gettysburg when in fact the busy man was travelling from Abilene to Kansas City on the date cited. In another example, Ambrose claimed to interviewed Eisenhower on a date where the man was checked into a hospital and received only three guests, none of whom were Ambrose.
Rives believes there might have been some sort of "hidden" relationship between the two men where Eisenhower seems to have entrusted the historian" to preserve his legacy and counteract criticisms," On at least one occasion the record bears out this trust as the historian dutifully defended Eisenhower's political reputation However, it also seems that when Eisenhower did not need Ambrose for a particular task, he preferred to enjoy his leisure time playing golf instead of meeting with the ambitious author. It's also possible that Ambrose would have felt some degree of resentment for Eisenhower being so inconsistent and inaccessible. Before Ambrose's first introduction to Eisenhower, he considered himself purely an author on the history of the US Civil War. After that first meeting, he certainly expanded his historical focus and developed a calculated professional ambition. Ambrose claims that Eisenhower, had after reading his book on Civil War General Henry Halleck, contacted him by phone to request that the author write his biography. Once again Rives found that Ambrose's version of events was untrue pointing out that it was the historian who contacted Eisenhower in a letter and suggested the project.
A sober examination of the facts uncovered by Rives can lead to only one realistic conclusion, Ambrose fabricated most of the details concerning his personal and professional relationship with Eisenhower. With perfect timing Ambrose completed the massive book "The Supreme Commander" in less than one year after Eisenhower's death and well before the increase in interest in the former general started to decline. The dates in this book where Ambrose claims to have interviewed Eisenhower cannot be reconciled with the official record. This is likely an early mistake by an author who had not yet finely tuned his craft of falsifying the record. When documenting that book he must have reasoned that with Eisenhower dead, there would be no one in a position to challenge his version of events. However, in later books his notations tended to be more vague, a simple "interview with DDE" is all the information offered. This change in style is probably because at some point later on Ambrose realized that fewer details would risk far fewer potential challenges to his record. Amazingly, in 2012, two years after Rives' disappointing discovery and ten years after Ambrose's death, "The Supreme Commander" was republished and still included all the dubious notations of the 1st edition. Had nothing been learned?
Throughout many challenges Bacque has responded to his critics with well written articles supporting his research. Oddly enough the Nizkor Project, which is an "internet-based" organization run by the B'nai Brith of Canada has been carrying a scathing letter on it's website for many years where Ambrose condemns Bacque's research claiming it was "worse than worthless" Why would an organization, " dedicated to countering Holocaust denial," get involved in this completely separate historical issue? The involvement of Nizkor seems well beyond the scope of the organization's own stated objective and now either through ignorance or indifference the Nizkor Project still displays the article even though Ambrose has been discredited.
Ambrose had a reputation as someone who was a great "story teller" but now it is a proven fact that his gift for story telling came at the expensive of the truth. In pursuing his ambition, Ambrose cheated and betrayed many people. Anyone who read one of his books is among the many people betrayed by Ambrose. No matter how someone may regard Eisenhower, he probably should be included in the same long list of people whose trust was betrayed by a confidence man. The members of the New Orleans panel that trusted him as a fellow historian and the chief editor of their book have also been betrayed by Ambrose. These "academic historians" are forever tainted by their association with Ambrose and their continued silence on the matter only compounds their lost credibility.
Most important of all, James Bacque was a victim of Stephen Ambrose's mean spirited dishonesty and extreme hypocrisy, Ambrose used his position of great respect and authority to attack the "Canadian novelist" undermining his reputation and causing a distrust for his research. All the while he accused Bacque, Ambrose knew he had falsified the historical record throughout his career. Despite all of Ambrose's proven transgressions the facts have been largely ignored. Not surprisingly, a gelatinous double standard exists for an "academic historian" who enjoyed a high volume of sales which generated millions upon million of dollars. Unlike Ambrose, Bacque's research has stood the test of time very well.