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  • Citizen Soldiers

  • The U.S. Army from the Normandy Beaches to the Bulge to the Surrender of Germany
  • Written by: Stephen E. Ambrose
  • Narrated by: George Wilson
  • Length: 21 hrs and 34 mins
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History, Military
  • 5.0 out of 5 stars (7 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Citizen Soldiers opens on June 7, 1944, on the Normandy beaches, and ends on May 7, 1945. From the high command on down to the enlisted men, Stephen E. Ambrose draws on hundreds of interviews and oral histories from men on both sides who were there. He recreates the experiences of the individuals who fought the battles, the women who served, and the Germans who fought against us.

Ambrose reveals the learning process of a great army: how to cross rivers, how to fight in snow or hedgerows, how to fight in cities, how to coordinate air and ground campaigns, how to fight in winter and on the defensive, how citizens become soldiers in the best army in the world.

A masterful biography of the U.S. Army in the European Theater of Operations, Citizen Soldiers provides a compelling account of the extraordinary stories of ordinary men in their fight for democracy.

©1997 Stephen E. Ambrose (P)2011 Simon & Schuster

What the critics say

" Citizen Soldiers [is] a high point in Ambrose's long fascination with the nature of leaders and followers. (John Lehman, The Wall Street Journal)
"History boldly told and elegantly written.... Gripping." (Kyle Smith, People)
"Ambrose proves once again he is a masterful historian.... Spellbinding.... The book captures the bizarre contradictions, random kindness and unexpectedly comic moments of the push to Berlin as memorably as a great war novel." (John Omicinski, Detroit Free Press)

What listeners say about Citizen Soldiers

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
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    4 out of 5 stars
  • RoosterCogburn
  • 2013-01-31

Unique Perspective of WWII

Ambrose is an excellent writer, and this book is no exception. Thoroughly researched from both sides of the war in Europe, but unique in that the primary focus is from the perspective of the front-line troops. I found the interviews with the former German soldiers to be very insightful. It isn't often we hear reflections on WWII from those who were our enemies.

Some funny stories, some heartbreaking ones (how could we ever understand the hell that was the frontline in the winter of 1944?) and overall a very good listen.

10 people found this helpful

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  • lmtwashington
  • 2018-07-27

Respect Our Vets But Not Ambrose

Have listened to this recounting dozens of times. Each time Ambroses underlying views come clearer. Common men became hero’s to us by their deeds but Ambrose continually assaults them, their motives, their leaders and the outcomes of their actions. Ambrose has been cast as somehow as heroic as those who Hanks and Spielberg diminished in BofB. Listen long enough to Ambrose and what becomes clear is why he was a lifelong supporter of George McGovern....a pilot he covers and idolizes in another book...got for his duty but for his liberal world view. Our WW2 veterans are worthy of all praise for being the men and soldiers they were. Do not expect; in a close reading of this book, to find Ambrose applying such praise. This is is history with an authors undeniable liberal world views.

8 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
  • Jeremy
  • 2011-06-30

Required reading, excellent narration

This book conveys the tragedy of war for all. As a combat vet of Iraq I feel that my tour was a walk in the park compared to WWII. All citizens should read this book to help them understand the price that was paid to defeat the nazis.

The narrator also does an excellent job, his various accents help the flow of the book and his delivery, tempo, and tone were perfect.

18 people found this helpful

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  • Aimee
  • 2013-05-15

I Read it Before and Hearing it is Even Better

Would you listen to Citizen Soldiers again? Why?

This is a great telling of WWII from the soldiers perspective. I read it some years ago and hearing it again I learned some new things I had forgotten. Stephen Ambrose has a way of telling a story that bring the words of history to life.

Who was your favorite character and why?

His story telling keeps the listener listening. It's like watching a movie in your head.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

I wish I could listen to this in one sitting.

Any additional comments?

Listening to this makes me proud to be an American. Proud of our history and thankful of our past. Some may say our current generation couldn't do the same. Many have said the same of previous generations before. Gertrude Stein called the WWII generation, "The lost generation".

I'm sure history will repeat itself if the current generation is ever called on to defend freedom on a massive scale. It will succeed and we will prevail.

What a great book.

10 people found this helpful

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  • Jonathan Love
  • 2016-05-18

Only Ambrose Writes So Specifically and So Broad

First, I only gave this book an overall rating of 4 Stars because, although so thorough and wonderful, it doesn't compare to Band of Brothers. I know it's not supposed to be like Band of Brothers, but I can't help but compare the two. As a paratrooper myself, I couldn't help but imagine myself sitting in the foxhole at the Battle of the Bulge with Easy Company.

Citizen Soldiers also gets a mild criticism in regard to the paucity of mentions that many of the units he was talking about were National Guard. Ambrose addresses this in the afterword, but I picked this book up specifically looking for information about National Guard Soldiers during WWII. Part of the aforementioned shortcoming in comparison to CPT Winters' Soldiers is the fact that Citizen Soldiers doesn't follow one unit from their training through D-Day, the march toward Germany, and the end of the war. Therefore one isn't endeared to one group of Soldiers.

Also because of the broad-stroke accounts of the book, it was apparent that Ambrose had to jump around on the timeline to accommodate some sort of association of topics (e.g., different unit perspectives, General Officer perspectives, German Officer/Soldier perspectives, medical/nurse perspectives, Veteran vs. replacement perspectives). This created a mild difficulty in keeping the current stage of the progress in mind during tangential narratives and biographies.

Who am I to be critical of Ambrose, but these were some of my thoughts. I really enjoyed this book and look forward to listening to it again. I really like Ambrose's assessments of US Army failures in the European Theater, specifically that of forcing replacements into Veteran and combat fatigued units; while anyone who served during WWII can be considered, 'The Greatest Generation,' it really seems that the few frontline Soldiers who survived D-Day through the end of combat operations really gave all and then were forced to give more and more and more.

8 people found this helpful

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  • DKSTRYKER
  • 2020-04-16

No subject left untouched from 44' to 45'

Ambrose never fails to catch the reader's heart & mind. His work here captures the detail to the Teeth of the War in Europe from 1944 - 1945. Gripping details of the Land, sea, air, medical, & homefront life during the war. I loved it! I plowed through this in less than a week!

2 people found this helpful

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  • Wade
  • 2014-04-06

History brought to life via soldier stories

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, especially if they had an interest in WW II.

What does George Wilson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

His voice varied enough to make the soldiers being discussed or 'talking/telling their story' stand apart.

Any additional comments?

Well worth the listen. Although I suspect each listener will come away with specific remembered parts, overall the gritty nature of war and the struggles faced by soldiers on both sides is well portrayed.

5 people found this helpful

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  • C,L, Richey
  • 2013-04-15

Unbelievable heroism.

This is the second book from Mr. Ambrose that I have read and it was as good as the first. I read Band of Brothers after watching the HBO mini-series and enjoyed it. Citizen Soldiers is another excellent read. It covers everything in the ETO from Normandy to Berlin. You'll learn things about the major players that you may not have known. I was drawn in from the start and it kept me interested to the end. It is heartbreaking to know how many men's lives were wasted through poor planning and execution of orders that were unnecessary. And how one generals decision cost the men countless unnecessary cases of frostbite and trench foot through lack of proper equipment. If you enjoyed Band of Brothers you will also enjoy Citizen Soldiers. I just purchased Wild Blue by Mr. Ambrose and I expect it will be as good as this book.

2 people found this helpful

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  • Bhinde99
  • 2020-01-19

amazing

I couldn't stop listening to this book, so well written and read. What this country did is absolutely amazing. Thank you

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  • Joe. Nobody
  • 2019-03-07

the narrator ruin this book for me

this is probably an awesome book like all of his other books but the narrator's collection of nose whistle lip smacking teeth clucking just ruinend this for me so I can't give an honest review of the book it's self it was that distracting for me

1 person found this helpful