Skip to main content

Stephen E. Ambrose


Stephen E. Ambrose


Only days after the release of one book and with another book nearing publication, Ambrose died Oct. 13, 2002 after a six-month struggle with lung cancer. The celebrated historian was 66.

For much of his career, Ambrose was a history professor who was popular with students, but not well known outside of academic circles. He burst onto the national scene with his 1994 book D-DAY JUNE 6, 1944: The Climactic Battle of World War II. Ambrose continued to captivate readers as he published books at an industrial pace, including a half-dozen more best-sellers such as CITIZEN SOLDIERS and The WILD BLUE.

Best known for his World War II books and as the founder of the National D-day Museum in New Orleans, Ambrose wrote about diverse aspects of American history, including ones about Presidents Eisenhower and Nixon, the Transcontinental Railroad and the Lewis and Clark expeditions of the American West.

An illustrated album, THE MISSISSIPPI AND THE MAKING OF A NATION: From the Louisiana Purchase to Today, was just released. His last book, TO AMERICA: Personal Reflections of an Historian, which Ambrose called his love song to America, was released Oct. 15, 2002.

Ambrose suggested in a recent interview that his focus on World War II developed from working on his Eisenhower biography and his memory of soldiers returning home from World War II when he was 10 years old.


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.

Stephen E. Ambrose