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Citizen Soldiers, by Stephen E. Ambrose

Citizen_soldiersCall me a late bloomer but I never had much of an interest in history or World War II until fairly recently.  The light went on for me after I read Playing with the Enemy by Gary Moore.  Shortly after finishing that book I asked a good friend of mine, who happens to be a history buff, what he recommends for me to read next.  I was looking for a great overview of the war but something that felt engaging and doesn't read like a text book.  He suggested Stephen Ambrose's Citizen Soldiers and I'm glad he did.

The thing that makes Citizen Soldiers so special is that Ambrose spent so much time and effort interviewing so many WWII vets.  You truly get a feel for the horror they went through and the challenges they faced.  What an incredible generation indeed.  The interviews and excerpts that are liberally spread throughout the entire book give you the feeling that you're right there chatting with these heroes.  Now that I've finished reading it I need to check back in with my buddy to see what he recommends next, although it's hard to imagine any other book that could stack up to this one.


Sara Shlaer

Joe, I haven't read Citizen Soldiers, but you might try The Good War, by Studs Terkel. It's a set of interviews, not only of U.S. soldiers but civilians, Russian soldiers, Japanese, and so on.

I saw your recent post on The Wide Open Spaces of God. I just finished The Year of Living Biblically, in which A. J. Jacobs describes a full year of trying to literally follow the words of the Bible--eight months with the old testament and four with the new. Very funny, but thought-provoking on questions big and small.

Joe Wikert

Hi Sara. Thanks for the tip on the Studs Terkel title!

Bob Meade

Joe, better late than never. Ambrose's admiration for his worthy subjects is plain.

Try this podcast from the Pritzker Military Library, it's an interview with Gerald Russell and Bill Hudson about their 36 Days on Iwo Jima.

(It can also be found on iTunes)

Also try the Library of Congress Veterans' History Project - it's big but start here:

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