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Saturday, October 23, 2010

Comrades: Brothers, Fathers, Heroes, Sons, Pals(audiobook) by Stephen E. Ambrose

An Interesting Study of Male Friendship

4 compact discs
4.5 hours
read by Nelson Runger

Comrades: Brothers, Fathers, Heroes, Sons, Pals is an exploration into male friendship by renowned historian and author Stephen E. Ambrose (1936-2002).

He looks into different kinds of friendship including friendship between brothers, friendship among schoolmates (especially college), friends from among his students, friendship among men who have been in combat together, friendship as young men, friendship as old men and the friendship that can develop between a father and son once his son is an adult.

Stephen E. Ambrose
Specific friendships studied include:

-The three Ambrose brothers;

-Dwight and Milton Eisenhower;

-The Custer Brothers, who all died at Little Big Horn;

-Crazy Horse and He-Dog;

-Eisenhower and Patton - two very different men who respected and valued their differences;

-Nixon as the friendless man (talented, driven but no skill and being himself and making friends);

-Ambrose's best friend;

-Lewis and Clark (perhaps the most poignant tale of the bunch);

-The men of Easy Company from his book Band of Brothers (perhaps the most touching of the book was a comment that is highlighted in HBO's serialized version of Band of Brothers - a veteran of Easy Company is asked by his grandson, "Grandpa, were you a hero in the war?" "No. I served in a company of heroes.")


-Men who fought against each other but meet and become friends decade after the war;

-Ambrose and his father.

Fans of Ambrose will note that there is absolutely no new ground covered in this book - all of the people in this book are mentioned in other books, with the possible exception of his family stories. However, this is an interesting and useful analysis by a veteran historian who has finally completed enough studying to observe some basic characteristics of human nature.

I wonder why Ambrose did not mention his own sons when discussing the friendships between sons and fathers.

Ambrose comments on the beauty of friendship between old men - no rivalry, nothing but support and love. He notes that he can't wait until he is old and can enjoy such friendships. Sadly, Ambrose died of cancer in 2002 at the age of 66.

I rate this audiobook 5 stars out of 5.

Reviewed October 23, 2010.

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