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If you like Stephen Ambrose's story, you might also like:
Tom Clancy,
David Herbert Donald,
Doris Kearns Goodwin,
Shelby Foote,
David McCullough
and James Michener

Stephen Ambrose's recommended reading: R.E. Lee, A Biography

Stephen Ambrose also appears in the video:
The Power of Words

Teachers can find prepared lesson plans featuring Stephen Ambrose in the Achievement Curriculum section:
The Power of Words

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Stephen Ambrose
Stephen Ambrose
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Stephen Ambrose Interview (page: 7 / 7)

Biographer and Historian

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  Stephen Ambrose

Has criticism of your work ever affected you strongly?

Stephen Ambrose: No. I read all the reviews, and I get criticized. Patricia Limerick is a very well-known Western historian at the University of Colorado -- a New Wave historian who's interested in women in the West, and minorities in the West, and the New History kind of thing. Patricia Limerick labels me a triumphalist, and she means by that a celebrator of the American achievement. The implication is that I refuse to look at the warts. Now that's not true. I look at the warts.

When I write about Thomas Jefferson, I make sure my readers know that he was a slaveholder, and when I write about William Clark, I make sure they know that he beat (his slave) York, who went all the way to the Pacific and back with him. I don't leave the warts out. But I look at Thomas Jefferson and I see a great man who has done great things for me, and you, and all Americans. Yet people say, you know, "Why should black Americans care one thing about Thomas Jefferson?" I'll tell you many, many reasons. I'll tell you one right off. Because of Thomas Jefferson, we got religious liberty in this country, and African Americans are the most religious of all of our peoples, and they exercise that privilege, that right, because of Thomas Jefferson.

[ Key to Success ] Integrity

Patricia wants to look at Jefferson and all of his hypocrisy and his sins. I want to look at Jefferson and say, "Boy, that's great, what he did there for us." I read the reviews, and I get into debates with the critics, but it doesn't change what I'm writing. I'm not going to back off on Thomas Jefferson. He's one of the greatest men who ever lived, and we, all of us, have freedoms and liberties today, thanks to Thomas Jefferson.

For Lewis and Clark, the adventure included people, 50 different tribes, all of them distinct. One of the features of Lewis and Clark's journals is that you get to know Indians as individuals. You almost never get that out of white men writing about Indians. With Lewis and Clark, you get to know various Indians as personalities, not as generalizations.

What are you most proud of, that you've contributed to the world?

Stephen Ambrose Interview Photo
Stephen Ambrose: I guess I'm most pleased by the numbers of people that are out on the Lewis and Clark trail. The mail that I get: "I took my grandson out on the trail," or "The whole family is going out on the trail." That's very good. I take great pride in helping people to understand why Dwight Eisenhower was a great man. Right now I'm taking tremendous pride and pleasure out of the mail that's coming from a book called Citizen Soldiers, because it's coming from the GIs themselves, who are writing to me. It's even a hundred letters a day, six months after publication, generally saying, "Thanks for writing about my war. You got it right. When you praise those medics, boy, let me tell you about my medic." That's awful nice when the guys that you're writing about come back to you and say, "You got it right."

You're adding to the world's sum of knowledge too, aren't you?

Stephen Ambrose: That's what I've been trying to do all along.

Well thank you for a great interview.

Sure. Thank you.

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This page last revised on Sep 22, 2010 11:44 EDT
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