"You could add to the sum of the world's knowledge, and tell stories, and make a living doing it. Phew! Throw me into that briar patch!"
As a boy growing up in Wisconsin, Stephen Ambrose planned to follow in his father's footsteps as a small-town doctor; he entered the University of Wisconsin as a pre-med student, but his first day in American History class changed his life. He changed his major to history and never looked back. His first book sold fewer than a thousand copies, but it caught the eye of former President Dwight Eisenhower, who invited Ambrose to write an authorized biography.
Ambrose's multi-volume lives of presidents Eisenhower and Nixon, along with works on the opening of the American West, and on the experience of common soldiers in World War II, made him one of America's most respected historians. He saw two of his books top the best-seller lists simultaneously: Undaunted Courage, the definitive tale of the Lewis and Clark expedition, and Citizen Soldiers, an account of the European front in World War II, told from the point of view of the American GI.
Although Stephen Ambrose wrote over 30 books, he was almost as well-known to the public for his appearances on television's political discussion programs, where he was frequently called upon to discuss the American presidency, the history of the American West and the legacy of the Second World War.