Duty, Honor, Country: A History of West Point

Overview

This new paperback edition of Stephen E. Ambrose's highly regarded history of the United States Military Academy features the original foreword by Dwight D. Eisenhower and a new afterword by former West Point superintendent Andrew J. Goodpaster.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Overview

This new paperback edition of Stephen E. Ambrose's highly regarded history of the United States Military Academy features the original foreword by Dwight D. Eisenhower and a new afterword by former West Point superintendent Andrew J. Goodpaster.

Johns Hopkins University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Parameters

Throughout history every great nation has kept in its treasure-chest an academy for advanced learning and military training. Steven Ambrose's history leaves the reader with a greater understanding of the relationship between our treasure, West Point, and the society it supports.

Historical Time

There have been many other histories of West Point, but this is the best... From this excellent book every American will find interest and take pride in this truly national institution that has played so great a part in the building of the country.

New York Times Book Review

The title of this first-rate account of the United States Military Academy is drawn from the Academy's motto... [Ambrose] follows the long gray line through history, skillfully re-creating the administrations of West Point's outstanding superintendents (Sylvanus Thayer and Douglas MacArthur), telling some amusing anecdotes about cadets 'who simply refused to conform to the West Point mold' (James McNeill Whistler and Edgar Allan Poe).

Journal of American History

The conception of West Point, as Ambrose makes clear in his short history of the Military Academy, was immaculately Jeffersonian. It was a school to train engineers—that most liberal, nonaristocratic, and socially useful branch of the military service—not in order to create a corps d'élite but to provide the reservoir of military expertise which was needed if the militia ideal were to become a practical reality... Ambrose has told this story clearly and well; he is at his best in tying it to the larger context of American politics, social attitudes, and higher education.

Journal of Higher Education

A welcome addition to the growing literature on military education. Ambrose covers the whole history of West Point, from the first feeble beginnings under President Jefferson down to the present. He has carefully examined both the published and unpublished sources and has rounded out the basic data with numerous interviews.

Booknews
After West Point's somewhat chaotic first ten years, Sylvanus Thayer took control in 1877, beginning its illustrious history as both a military academy and a scientific institution that even civilian schools have sought to imitate. This reprint of the 1966 publication includes its original foreword by Dwight D. Eisenhower and a new afterword by former West Point superintendent, Andrew J. Goodpasture. Ambrose is a widely published historian and founder of the D-Day Museum in New Orleans. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780801862939
  • Publisher: Johns Hopkins University Press
  • Publication date: 12/28/1999
  • Pages: 377
  • Sales rank: 372,250
  • Product dimensions: 6.06 (w) x 9.12 (h) x 0.95 (d)

Meet the Author

Stephen E. Ambrose is the author of many books on American history, including Undaunted Courage: Meriwether Lewis, Thomas Jefferson, and the Opening of the American West and Citizen Soldiers: The U.S. Army from the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany, June 7, 1944 to May 7, 1945. He is also the founder of the National D-Day Museum, in New Orleans.

Johns Hopkins University Press

Biography

"I was ten years old when [World War II] ended," Stephen Ambrose once said. "I thought the returning veterans were giants who had saved the world from barbarism. I still think so." Years after he first watched combat footage in the newsreels, the popular historian brought fresh attention to America's aging WWII veterans through such bestselling books as Band of Brothers, about a company of U.S. paratroopers, and The Wild Blue, about the B-24 bomber pilots who flew over Germany. Though best known for his books on World War II, Ambrose also produced multi-volume biographies of Dwight Eisenhower and Richard Nixon, a history of the building of the transcontinental railroad, and a fascinating account of the Lewis and Clark expedition across the American West.

As a young professor of history, Ambrose was one of many left-wing academics who spoke out against American involvement in the Vietnam War. Yet he revered the veterans of World War II, and he interviewed and wrote about them at a time when many of his colleagues considered military history old-fashioned. "The men I admire most are soldiers, sailors, professional military," Ambrose would later tell The Washington Post. "Way more than politicians."

He labored without much popular acclaim or academic renown until 1994, when his book D-Day June 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II burst onto the bestseller lists. War heroism was suddenly a hot topic, and Ambrose's approach, which focused on the experiences of soldiers rather than the decisions of high command, was perfectly suited to a popular audience. More bestsellers followed, including Citizen Soldiers, The Victors and Undaunted Courage. Ambrose's vivid narrative accounts were devoured by readers and praised by critics. "The descriptions of individual ordeals on the bloody beach of Omaha make this book outstanding," wrote Raleigh Trevelyan in a New York Times review of D-Day.

Ambrose retired as a professor of history at the University of New Orleans in 1995, but he continued to write one or more books per year. He also founded the National D-Day Museum in New Orleans, worked with his family-owned business organizing historical tours, and served as the historical consultant for the 1998 Steven Spielberg film Saving Private Ryan. Spielberg later turned Ambrose's Band of Brothers into an HBO miniseries.

This rise to fame was accompanied by criticism from some of Ambrose's fellow historians, who charged that he could be careless in his research and editing. In early 2002, he faced accusations of plagiarism when reporters noted that a number of phrases and sentences in his books were lifted from other works. Ambrose responded that he had forgotten to place quotation marks around some quotes, but said he had footnoted all his sources. "I always thought plagiarism meant using another person's words and ideas, pretending they were your own and profiting from it. I do not do that, never have done that and never will," he wrote in a statement on his Web site.

When he was diagnosed with lung cancer a few months later, he began work on a memoir, To America. "I want to tell all the things that are right about America," he said in an interview with the Associated Press. Ambrose died in October 2002, at the age of 66.

Good To Know

Ambrose was a star football player at the University of Wisconsin and played in the Rose Bowl, according to his friend and co-author Douglas Brinkley.

As a college sophomore, Ambrose abandoned his pre-med major for history after he attended a class on "Representative Americans" taught by professor William Hesseltine.

For more than 20 years, Ambrose and his family spent their vacations traveling portions of the Lewis and Clark Trail. They canoed the Missouri and Columbia rivers, endured soaking rains and summer snowstorms, and read from the explorers' journals at night by the light of their campfires.

Ambrose named his house in Mississippi "Merry Weather," after Meriwether Lewis. His Labrador was called Pomp, after the nickname of Sacagawea's son.

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    1. Also Known As:
      Stephen Ambrose
    1. Date of Birth:
      January 10, 1936
    2. Place of Birth:
      Whitewater, Wisconsin
    1. Date of Death:
      October 13, 2002
    2. Place of Death:
      Bay St. Louis, Mississippi

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Sort by: Showing all of 4 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted May 23, 2000

    An oft forgotten side of US history.

    I found this early work of Ambrose to be an easy and interesting read and would recommend it to anyone interested in the history of the Military Academy. While the history of the academy is quite rich, Ambrose does an excellent job of providing a concise review of its significant points. The detailed narrative that readers of 'Undaunted Courage' might expect are lacking in this work, but I believe 'Duty, Honor, Country' flowed much more smoothly and was much easier to read. The book maintains a common thread throughout dealing with the mission of the academy and the expectations of the country for the academy and its graduates. The author does a wonderful job of laying the foundation for the academy's shaky beginnings in the young United States. As a graduate of West Point, I found Ambrose's analysis of its culture to be quite insightful. Since this book was originally published in 1964, the many recent changes which have challenged the academy are not covered -- I would dearly love to see Ambrose update this work The publishers of the current addition have attempted to provide an update by including an afterword by General Goodpaster, a grad and former superintendent. Unfortunately, I question the General's understanding and insight into the events of the last thirty years, especially the period covering the Vietnam era of the seventies. To a large degree I found the General's comments to be a somewhat self-serving review of the post-Vietnam changes at the academy - many of which he was instrumental in. In any event, those interested not only in the history of West Point, but also in the formative history of the early U.S., will find this book to be most enjoyable.

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    Posted October 31, 2008

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