At least he lived to a ripe old age. He had lots of friends who weren’t so fortunate.
The BoB book and series were both amazing.
Never saw BoB, but I knew of the fellow. RIP.
The term “hero” gets thrown around far too carelessly but I have no problem saying that, for me, after seeing the series and especially due to the documentary type shots of him (and his ‘brothers’) at the beginnings and ends of episodes, he’s a real hero of the most inspirational order.
RIP indeed. Anyone who hasn’t seen the HBO series really should.
I was lucky enough to hear him speak a few years ago. Rest in peace, sir.
Time to break out the box set. RIP, Mr. Winters.
As Mr_PeaCH said above, the true meaning of the word “hero.”
Bummer. Rest in peace - he went through hell on earth (D-Day and Bastogne certainly apply), but at least he got to come back home and live a rich full life.
[I]Ambrose, the author of “Band of Brothers,” said in a 2001 BBC interview that he hopes young people say. “I want to be like Dick Winters.”
“Not necessarily as soldiers, but as that kind of leader, that kind of man, with basic honesty and virtue and an understanding of the difference between right and wrong,” Ambrose said. [/I]
Sad to hear but by all accounts a great guy. I love BoB (the show) but the errors that carried over from Ambrose’s book and other stuff I read later about how Ambrose wrote that book still bother me. Which is probably why several of those guys, including Winters, later collaborated on their own books.
I just read about this, I don’t think I’ve been this affected by a death of someone I never met before. A true hero in every sense of the word.
What kind of errors?
When Ambrose went to write the book, he looked at all the documents that Winters had saved and he interviewed most of the survivors, though this was 40+ years after the events. He promised to each of the men that he would send them drafts of what he had written that concerned them and get their feedback. He apparently did little of that. Some of the participants were quite bitter about the whole thing, even creating a website so they could have their own say. While they appreciated the attention the book and series brought to them, they felt uncomfortable about some of the flaws in the version of the story Ambrose told that greater exposure brought.
But what is most concerning is that Ambrose seems to have spent little or no time fact checking the stories he was told, even when it would not have been that difficult to do so. A good example is the stuff about the non-Easy company paratrooper they fought with for a time after D-Day. This is the guy who Winters had to confront because he wasn’t actually firing his weapon in combat. At the end of the series episode he’s suffers a serious injury and they say he died later.
The problem is that he didn’t suffer a serious injury or die later. He suffered a minor injury and after recovery went back to his original unit. He survived the war and lived a long life. That’s a pretty big and easily avoidable error IMHO. Ambrose would have found that out had he bothered to do any fact checking, but apparently all he did was go off of vague memories from the guys involved. That’s not the kind of thing you expect from a professional historian. Remember, Ambrose near the end of his life had to admit to plagiarism and that just makes me wonder about the guy’s writing in general.
It may not seem like a big deal, but I spent some time in grad school for a history degree, so I know what the expectations in the field are.
Yeah, Ambrose writes compelling historical narratives, but as actual works of historical scholarship they’re pretty useless.
Anyway, what a life Winters had. One of the things that gets me when someone of that generation dies is just how much change they witnessed in their lifetime.
Well, except that Blithe actually was an Easy company paratrooper, but anyway–Ambrose had been originally told that from members of Easy, so we was given incorrect information at the very start. The fact that the book was never corrected and Playtone/HBO doesn’t seem to want to correct that either is a bit reprehensible (though honestly it fits the theme for the episode better if he didn’t recover as they said).
As for the plagiarism, that’s really a bit of a controversial topic because it was clear he wasn’t doing a great bit of writing at that point and his researchers were actually the ones responsible. As someone who spent some time in grad school for a history degree, if you’re using researchers that quote faulty or use plagiarized material it reflects on you can’t really be held too responsible for that. Unless you’re fact-checking them. But then what’s the point?
Many of the people came out afterwards mostly because they had their own stories to tell, and many were encouraged to do so because there had been a movement to get veterans to tell their stories before they were lost forever.
For the most part, Ambrose was best up to the point when he got truly famous, which was when he finished Undaunted Courage. It was kinda downhill from there, when he stopped being a real historian and scholar and became more of a popularist.
My point is that it would have been very easy for Ambrose to fact check that kind of thing. He clearly didn’t, and that reflects badly on him. I also think it reflects badly on him that several members of Easy even went so far to set up a website specifically so they could make clear their issues with Ambrose’s version of their story.
And the Ambrose stuff goes beyond the plagiarism stuff. There’s recently beenstrong evidence that he greatly exagerrated to the amount of time he spent with Eisenhower, meetings he used as extensive sources for later books he wrote. Actual records seem to show that Ambrose flat-out lied about some meetings (via footnotes that cite personal interviews with Eisenhower that seem not to have happened at all.)
Please excuse me for saying so, but I don’t think this thread should be about Stephen Ambrose.
Man, well, he lived a good life, 92 with kids and grandkids, can’t ask for more than that.
Would you consider yourself a hero? No, but I served in a company of them.
Pure class. So rare to see these days.