Good Fight: How World War II Was Won

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Overview

Stephen E. Ambrose, one of the finest historians of our time, has written an extraordinary chronicle of World War II for young readers. From Japanese warplanes soaring over Pearl Harbor, dropping devastation from the sky, to the against-all-odds Allied victory at Midway, to the Battle of the Bulge during one of the coldest winters in Europe's modern history, to the tormenting decision to bomb Nagasaki and Hiroshima with atomic weapons, The Good Fight brings the most horrific — and most heroic — war in history to ...

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Overview

Stephen E. Ambrose, one of the finest historians of our time, has written an extraordinary chronicle of World War II for young readers. From Japanese warplanes soaring over Pearl Harbor, dropping devastation from the sky, to the against-all-odds Allied victory at Midway, to the Battle of the Bulge during one of the coldest winters in Europe's modern history, to the tormenting decision to bomb Nagasaki and Hiroshima with atomic weapons, The Good Fight brings the most horrific — and most heroic — war in history to a new generation in a way that's never been done before.
In addition to Ambrose's accounts of major events during the war, personal anecdotes from the soldiers who were fighting on the battlefields, manning the planes, commanding the ships — stories of human triumph and tragedy — bring the war vividly to life.
Highlighting Ambrose's narrative are spectacular color and black-and-white photos, and key campaign and battlefield maps. Stephen E. Ambrose's singular ability to take complex and multifaceted information and get right to its essence makes The Good Fight the book on World War II for kids.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
The Barnes & Noble Review
Acclaimed historian Stephen E. Ambrose has broken new ground with a stirring account of World War II. Aimed at young readers and written with clarity, Ambrose's book brings out the humanity that underlies war. With compassion and storytelling prowess, the author makes a complex conflict exciting, enlightening, and comprehensible.

The introduction hints at the drama, agony, and determination of the story that follows. Relating two heart-wrenching moments of realization on the part of World War II veterans, Ambrose describes the massive impact the war had on its participants and on the preservation of democracy.

Laid out in easy-to-read chapters, The Good Fight begins with a discussion of the origins of the war and then focuses on major battles and events. Particularly stunning are the photos in each chapter: stirring images of Hitler standing with his troops, the attack on Pearl Harbor, and the dropping of the atomic bomb. In addition, the book includes campaign and battlefield maps and a detailed glossary -- particularly helpful for young students.

With this comprehensive history, young readers will begin to understand the meaning of World War II and to appreciate the sacrifices so many people made in order to secure freedom around the world. (Amy Barkat)

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Veteran adult historian Ambrose (D-Day June 6, 1944; Citizen Soldiers) hits the mark with this patriotic photo-survey of America's involvement in WWII. His highly visual and textually concise approach make clear the giant scope of a war that truly spanned the world. The author covers a great deal of factual information by breaking down the events into digestible sections of one to two spreads each (the D-Day invasion, photos of the concentration camps, and the bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki each have two spreads). Topics vary from the origins of the war in both Germany and Japan to Japanese-American relocation camps to the Manhattan Project and women in the work force, always keeping an eye to the human side of war and sacrifice. Carefully selected quotes reinforce the individual's experience, such as Major Richard Winters's reaction when his troops liberated concentration camp prisoners at Dachau: "Now I know why I am here." Ambrose also points out the irony that the U.S. battled a racist Hitler with a segregated army, and effectively argues that the exemplary performance of African-American troops paved the way for integration in the army and, eventually, for the civil rights movement. Haunting and powerful full-page and inset photographs bring each subject to life, including Joe Rosenthal's famous flag-raising after the battle of Iwo Jima. Because of the brevity, some issues such as Russia's temporary alliance with Germany are not discussed. The format succeeds in allowing Ambrose to flash back and forth between events around the globe, creating a heartpounding urgency. Ages 9-up. (May) Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
VOYA
As World War II becomes more a part of the past, Ambrose attempts to connect those of its generation with today's youth through this book, dedicating it to the grandchildren of the war's veterans. The introduction describes this period as a very dark time in history and includes quotes from soldiers about the personal values that led them to fight. Throughout the book, Ambrose shows the nobility of the members of this generation by chronicling the sacrifices they made and the risks they took for the common good during the Second World War. Especially noteworthy is the section on the Marshall Plan, which describes through some memorable facts the generosity of the American people. The content is thorough and spread evenly over both the War in Europe and the Pacific Theater, often underrepresented in history books. This diligence, along with a modern emphasis on women and minorities, contributes to the freshness of the book. Japanese American relocation camps, African American troops, and "Rosie the Riveter" are also covered. The layout of the book is beautiful. Each section is made up of a full-page tinted photograph, snapshots, a box of quick facts, and the text for the chapter. Full-page maps are interspersed throughout. Younger teens or reluctant readers interested in World War II will enjoy this book. At times it is apparent that Ambrose is not yet comfortable writing for this age group, because his language does not flow. Despite this quibble, The Good Fight will make a good addition to a school or public library. Glossary. Index. Photos. Maps. Biblio. VOYA CODES: 3Q 2P M (Readable without serious defects; For the YA with a special interest in the subject; Middle School, definedas grades 6 to 8). 2001, Atheneum/S & S, 96p, . Ages 12 to 14. Reviewer: Jenny Ingram SOURCE: VOYA, June 2001 (Vol. 24, No. 2)
Children's Literature
In this ambitious attempt to explain how the Allies won World War II, well-known historian Stephen Ambrose has written a series of short, informative essays describing key events in Europe and the Pacific that led to the defeat of the Axis powers, Germany and Japan. The first few pages summarize the origins of the war in Europe and Asia. The rest of the book is devoted to events that occurred after the bombing of Pearl Harbor that caused the United States to join the Allied war effort. Topics as diverse as the interment of Japanese-Americans, D-Day, the Manhattan Project, the Holocaust and the Marshall Plan are presented in a way that is both interesting and easy to understand. Taken together, the essays provide a detailed picture of how the tide turned against Germany and Japan once America joined the fight to rid the world of fascism. Spectacular color and black-and-white photos and key battlefield maps accompany the excellent text. This book will be an invaluable addition to the 20th century history curriculum because it is a clearly written, but not oversimplified explanation of the complex events that led to the end of World War II. 2001, Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster, . Ages All. Reviewer: Joyce Schwartz
School Library Journal
Gr 6 Up-Whenever a celebrated historian produces a volume for young people, one wonders if he will write for them or merely condense and chop. Ambrose does write for them in a beautifully abbreviated style with strong verbs, clear subjects, and a minimum of adverbs. Beginning with an explanation of the origin of the war in Europe and Asia, the text moves on to Pearl Harbor through the major battles to the war-crimes trials and the Marshall Program. Although driven chronologically by major military events, the narrative does include a bit of social and economic history, discussing the manufacturing strength of the United States and the establishment of relocation centers. Of course generals and major officials are quoted, but it is the variety of information gained from the soldiers' letters that gives the most interesting flavor. Well-chosen pictures prove that children were not exempt from the effects of war. A French toddler is held up for a friendly handshake with a GI on a half-track. Two boys are shown viewing the ruins of their city. A Japanese child with an atomically melted face sits dutifully at a school desk. All of the images are guaranteed to draw readers closer. Matching the excellence of the text is a superb layout. Full-page pictures- some of which are monochromed in attractive blue, purple, green, or sepia-appear opposite matched initials and fact boxes. Ambrose brings this compelling chapter of history to life for a new generation.-Cindy Darling Codell, Clark Middle School, Winchester, KY Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
In what is plainly a packager's distillation of far better work by the noted historian, what should have been exciting and heart-stirring-thanks to strong photographs-is reduced to a hop, skip, and a jump due to a weak text. The arrangement is an appealing one, similar to coffee-table books for adults: the openings are clean and clear-"Quick Facts," a small photo of an event, the text dealing with the subject at hand (a battle, a place) facing a full-page photo of the event, situation, or characters. The photos are telling; the text, though, skimps on details, facts, and conclusions that the uninformed young reader needs. The Quick Facts recitals of odd bits of detail (how many bombers, cliches about personalities, etc.) are useless unless a reader knows how to fill in the importance of such trivia. But the packager does not provide that essential background information. The photos (most of which may be assumed to have been shot in black and white) are offered in a variety of colors, perhaps to make the presentation more attractive, but even without that, they would be the strongest component. There are no dates for them, however. Each spread treats a different topic, bouncing from one to another with less than obvious connection. So, for instance, the subject of Japanese-American relocation centers is placed in between the Battle of Midway and the Battle of the Atlantic. And far too often what are contained in the text are trite phrases and worn-out images. Too bad. (maps and index not seen) (Nonfiction. 9-12)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780689843617
  • Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers
  • Publication date: 5/1/2001
  • Pages: 96
  • Sales rank: 335,362
  • Age range: 3 months - 17 years
  • Lexile: 1110L (what's this?)
  • Product dimensions: 10.20 (w) x 10.30 (h) x 0.50 (d)

Meet the Author

Dr. Stephen E. Ambrose was a renowned historian and acclaimed author of more than thirty books. Among his New York Times bestsellers are Nothing Like It in the World, Citizen Soldiers, Band of Brothers, D-Day - June 6, 1944, and Undaunted Courage. Dr. Ambrose was a retired Boyd Professor of History at the University of New Orleans and a contributing editor for the Quarterly Journal of Military History.

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

Interviews & Essays

A Conversation with Stephen E. Ambrose

Q: When did you first become fascinated with World War II?

A: I was born in 1936, and some of my earliest memories are of the War -- the patriotism, the sense of a unified purpose, and the sacrifices made by the veterans and their families all made a deep impression upon me. The war, in one way or another, was all around me as I grew up, and I guess I absorbed a certain amount of it, like so many other folks.

Q: You've written so many astonishing books for adults. How did you come to decide to write one for children?

A: It seems to me that the current generation of young people are very unaware of what their grandparents, and in some cases great-grandparents, gave up to ensure that all Americans could live in peace and freedom. They need to learn about the costs of the Second World War and not just the physical costs paid by the men doing the fighting. Close family members of Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, and Airmen also paid a price for peace and freedom as well, in the form of long separations and concerns about the safety of a husband, father, son, or brother --many of whom did not come back.

Q: How do you go about researching your books?

A: When I'm not writing, I'm doing reading related to it. I try to immerse myself in the subject as much as possible. I also have the aid of my son Hugh, who has been a great help with my last three book projects.

Q: What authors/books do you recall reading as a child?

A: I remember reading biographies on both Julius Caesar and George Washington early on in high school. The lives of both of these men made a great impression on me. Ever since, I have always been fascinated by a basic question: Why does a given historical figure do what he did, and how did he do it?

Q: Are you an avid reader?

A: As I said earlier, reading is something I do several hours a day, and it never ceases to be a source of delight and wonder to me.

Q: Is there one story from the war that has most moved you?

A: An event as colossal as the Second World War has no shortage of human drama, but I guess what moved me the most was hearing accounts from the American G.I.s who liberated the Nazi death camps across Europe in the closing days of the war. The true nature of what we were fighting against was revealed, and the gratitude that the prisoners showed the G.I.s still moves me deeply to this day.

Q: What do you hope children will come away with when they've finished reading The Good Fight?

A: How bravely their grandparents fought in the war, and the unselfish nature of their willingness to go to war to save citizens of nations other than their own. The liberation of Europe and the Marshall Plan that followed are the best examples of national unselfishness that I can think of. We did not have to fight Germany and Japan for our own survival -- we did it because it was the right and decent thing to do.

Q: How does your writing involve you in working on motion pictures and series, such as the upcoming miniseries Band of Brothers?

A: Well, in the case of Saving Private Ryan, I was the historical consultant for the film. Mr. Spielberg and Mr. Hanks would ask me for information that would enhance the accuracy and authenticity of the movie. Many veterans have since told me that Saving Private Ryan was the closest thing to being there that they had experienced. I value the praise of our veterans more highly than just about anything else. I hope they will feel the same way about Band of Brothers when it is completed.

Q: Have you visited many of the battlefields you've written about?

A: Oh, yes. I've been to Normandy a number of times, and I also enjoy visiting Civil War battlefields, such as Gettysburg and Shiloh. I'm also planning on visiting the Pacific battlefields to aid in research for my next book, Citizen Soldiers of the Pacific, which will be about the battles of Guadalcanal, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa.

Q: How do the events of World War II continue to affect society today?

A: The wonderful world that Americans live in -- a world of peace, prosperity, and tolerance -- are a direct result of the most important event of the twentieth century, World War II. We could not live in such a world without all that the veterans of this war have given to their country. Our security rests on the foundation that those who served in World War II built.

Q: What's your next project?

A: I'm working on a book on the Pacific, as I mentioned earlier, and the Band of Brothers project is also coming along nicely. I'm also assisting The National D-Day Museum with the opening of a Pacific Wing of their museum, scheduled for December 7, 2001 -- the 60th anniversary of Pearl Harbor. I have many other projects that I'm working on as well, but those come most readily to mind.

This interview has been provided by Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 6 )
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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2012

    Good WWII book

    I acquired this for a middle school library and I'm very pleased with it's clear overall view, great pictures and student friendly format.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 21, 2002

    Amazing Stories of WWII

    Stephen E. Ambrose wrote The Good Fight. This is a non-fictional book about World War II. Stephen Ambrose uses good details on how World War II was fought and how it started. Stephen Ambrose knows this war as ¿The greatest catastrophe in history¿. He describes this war with major battles, and who won them. He also shows us diagrams of invasion strategies used by different countries, and pictures of the battles and other stuff that was happening. Stephen Ambrose keeps us on track with who was on top of things at the time, and what the women did while their husbands were away at war. This book is very interesting because I love learning about World War II. Other people who like this topic should read this book. After reading The Good Fight, it gave me a better understanding on how World War II was fought and won. The Good Fight is one of the best books I have ever read. Stephen Ambrose gives us good descriptions and pictures about World War II. My suggestion is for other people to read this book so they could know more about this very important part in history.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 15, 2001

    good fight

    This book by S. Ambrose is as well done for older children as his adult books are for grown - ups. To the managers of this site, this book was almost impossible to find, but I fought the good fight.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 6, 2001

    World War II for American Teenagers of Today

    Chances are that most teenagers today have or had grandfathers who served in World War II and grandmothers who helped with the war effort at home. Yet those experiences seem like ancient history to many young people. This superb volume should help bring home the message of why the American war effort was so important, and the magnitude of the sacrifices that were made on their behalf. Hopefully, these materials will then encourage these young people to ask their grandparents about their World War II experiences, and help create more connections to and understanding of those worthy elders. This book is a brief pictoral history of the war from the American perspective. The book's format is to take about 30 themes and develop them briefly. The tools used are brief essays, moving quotes from participants, photographs, and battle maps. Most subjects are handled in two pages (including photographs), but some go on to become four pages (such as the Holocaust). My only complaint about the book is that some photographs are reproduced in one color that makes the detail hard to see. Black would have been less appealing, but the photographs would have been easier to examine. Those who know Professor Ambrose's work will recognize the quotes. Sergeant Mike Ranney of Easy Company in the 101st tells this story about speaking with his grandson. ''Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?' 'No,' I answered, 'but I served in a company of heroes.'' Quotes like that are worth the price of the book for conveying the World War II experience to this generation of Americans. The book is good for pointing out problems and injustice. You see black Americans training with World War I guns. You see Japanese-Americans being interned in concentration camps. The concentration camp at Belsen is displayed. The devastation at Nagasaki as well as the radiation burn scars on a boy are portrayed. Many of the famous World War II photographs are here, such as the flag-raising on Iwo Jima, V-J Day in Times Square (the sailor and the nurse), soldiers wading ashore on D-Day into the surf on Omaha Beach, and the Navy battleships aflame at Pearl Harbor. Professor Ambrose certainly knows this history better than I do, but I wondered about his description of the Japanese emperor's involvement in the decision to launch the attack on Pearl Harbor. The version here seemed closer to the original story favored by General MacArthur that the emperor was manipulated by the military leaders than what I have been reading other historians say, which is that the emperor was right in the middle of wanting to go to war. Some of my other favorite photographs in the book include Hitler at a Nuremberg party rally (showing the propaganda machine in all of its might), Guadalcanal after a tropical storm (with tents underwater), an Army corpsman tending a wounded soldier, St. Lo after the liberation, an American soldier rescuing a shell-shocked girl in Manila, and Stalin, Truman and Churchill at Potsdam. Lesser known parts of the war are covered here, such as Rosie the Riveter (including a photograph of women learning to weld). After you read this book, I suggest that you also take time to tell your teenagers how you feel about America's involvement in World War II. Many of the participants are naturally reluctant to say very much. Your own sense of this incredible struggle can help fill the gap in understanding as well. If you feel comfortable, you may also want to talk about the cold war. Be glad that D-Day was a success! Donald Mitchell, co-author of The Irresistible Growth Enterprise and The 2,000 Percent Solution

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 24, 2001

    The Good Fight is Outstanding.

    Ambrose has done an excellent job in putting this beautiful book together. From the time line on the inside cover, to the historical pictures, to the glossary at the end, Ambrose has not left anything out. I'm a teacher and I'm finding this very helpful with my class. I like the short notes at the start of each section. The overall setup of the book is excellent. Readers will not be disappointed.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 3, 2001

    I was amazed

    I have to say that I was really impressed with what Stephen Ambrose did. I did not think that anyone could tell the story of World War II for kids, but this book really did it. I have a 10-year-old daughter and an 8-year-old son. My father fought in World War II and I am very grateful for this book, which helped me tell them what their grandfather did. Thank you, Mr. Ambrose.

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