To America : Personal Reflections of an Historian

Version: Abridged
Author: Stephen E. Ambrose
Narrator: Jeffrey DeMunn
Genres: Biography & Memoir
Publisher: Simon & Schuster
Published In: November 2002
# of Units: 4 CDs
Length: 4 hours, 30 minutes
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Reflecting on his career, Stephen E. Ambrose -- one of the country's most influential historians -- confronts America's failures and struggles as he explores both its moral and pragmatic triumphs. To America celebrates the men and women who invented the United States and made it exceptional.

Taking a few swings at today's political correctness, Ambrose grapples with the country's historic sins of racism, its neglect and ill treatment of Native Americans, and its tragic errors. He reflects on some of the early founders -- great men such as Washington and Jefferson -- who, while progressive thinkers, lived a contradiction as slaveholders. He contemplates the genius of Andrew Jackson's defeat of a vastly superior British force with a ragtag army in the War of 1812. He describes the grueling journey that Lewis and Clark made to open up the country, and the building of the railroad that produced great riches for a few barons.

Ambrose explains the misunderstood presidency of Ulysses S. Grant, records the country's assumption of world power under the leadership of Theodore Roosevelt, and extols the heroic victory of World War II. He explores women's rights and civil rights, immigration, museum and nation-building.

Most importantly, Ambrose tells us about writing history, and about what an historian's job is all about. As he says, "The last five letters of the word 'history' tell us that it is an account of the past that is about people and what they did, which is what makes it the most fascinating of subjects." As he reflects upon American history, Ambrose shares his own personal history. To America is an instant classic for those interested in history, patriotism, and the love of writing.

Reviews (4)

Interesting Reflections

Written by Albert from Annapolis, MD on November 12th, 2012

  • Book Rating: 3/5

Putting history into perspective is a slippery slope. When a favorite author slides down the slope and begins to push his own political views, I'm always sorry he did. I guess I don't want to peek behind the curtain and see the guy who's pulling the levers. I enjoyed the broader view of our historic past that this book gave me. The author honestly confronted the controversial behaviors of some people. It would have been interesting to see some others examined under the same microscope. Ambrose is in good company. Michener and Steinbeck also faded a bit when their politics emerged explicitly into their writing.


Written by Jim on December 14th, 2008

  • Book Rating: 4/5

Excellent overview of some key points in American History. Brings to light some of the many myths we are taught in our youth and the "truth" of actual events. I would recommend this for anyone who doesn't really have the time to read the specific era text books.

Will Make You Proud to be an American!

Written by Anonymous from San Diego, CA on April 28th, 2005

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Ambrose tells wonderful stories about our Americnan history and made me proud to be an American.

To America Personal Reflections of an Historian Seven Ambrose

Written by Roberta Tufts on November 25th, 2004

  • Book Rating: 5/5

Mr. Ambrose was the professor that everyone should have had for American History. He's a great story teller and this book was very interesting.

Author Details

Author Details

Ambrose, Stephen E.

"Dr. Stephen Ambrose was a renowned historian, biographer, and acclaimed author of more than 30 books. Among his New York Times best-sellers were: NOTHING LIKE IT IN THE WORLD, CITIZEN SOLDIERS, BAND OF BROTHERS, D-DAY - JUNE 6, 1944, UNDAUNTED COURAGE, and WILD BLUE. TO AMERICA: Personal Reflections of an Historian is his latest book; and coming out in the winter 2002 is MERIWETHER LEWIS, THOMAS JEFFERSON, AND THE OPENING OF THE AMERICAN WEST: The Climactic Battle of World War II.

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 demonstrated how leaders use trust, friendship and shared experiences to work together and thrive during conflict and change. His philosophy about audience engagement was best put 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 did not go unnoticed by the film industry. Dr. Ambrose was the historical consultant for Steven Spielberg's movie Saving Private Ryan. Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks also purchased the film rights to his books CITIZEN SOLDIERS and BAND OF BROTHERS, which resulted in a 13-hour HBO mini-series in 2001.

Ambrose also participated in numerous national television programs, including ones for the History Channel and National Geographic."