1987 Notable Authors

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Stephen E. Ambrose
Ben Logan

Stephen E. Ambrose, 1936-2002

Born in Decatur, Illinois, Stephen Ambrose grew up in Whitewater, Wisconsin, where he was captain of the high school football team and king of the prom. When he left home for the University of Wisconsin in Madison he intended to follow his father into medicine, but a sophomore history course taught by William Hesseltine led him to switch his major to history. He graduated with honors in 1957 and earned his master's degree from Louisiana State University in 1958, then returned to the University of Wisconsin to begin work on his Ph.D. in history.

In 1960, Ambrose accepted a faculty position at the University of New Orleans and completed his Ph.D. in 1963. The next year he received a call from Dwight D. Eisenhower who was then in retirement in Gettysburg, Pennsylvania. Ike had been impressed with Ambrose's biography of Civil War General Halleck and wanted Ambrose to work as an editor on his personal papers. Ambrose says of this time, "It was heavenly. I could ask him, 'What did Churchill really say on this occasion?' or 'What were your feelings when General Mark Clark did so and so?'" While working on the Eisenhower papers, Ambrose also received Ike's permission to write his biography.

During the ensuing years he wrote several volumes on Ike, most notably the highly acclaimed two-volume Eisenhower biography. Robert J. Donovan of The New York Times described the biography as "the best book to date on its subject..." Ambrose has also written a dual biography of Chief Crazy Horse and General Custer. The first volume of his biography of Richard Nixon was published in 1987 and has received national critical acclaim.

Ambrose, married and the father of five children, is currently a professor at the University of New Orleans, spending his summers at his Wisconsin cottage. He hopes some day to write a biography of Meriwether Lewis, whom he admires greatly.

Selected Writings:

Halleck: Lincoln's Chief of Staff; 1962
Upton and the Army; 1964
Duty, Honor, Country: A History of West Point; 1966
Eisenhower and Berlin, 1945; 1967
Rise to Globalism: American Foreign Policy 1938-1970; 1970
The Supreme Commander: The War Years of General Dwight D. Eisenhower; 1970
Ike: Abilene to Berlin; 1973
Crazy Horse and Custer: The Parallel Lives of Two American Warriors; 1975
Eisenhower: Soldier, General of the Army, President-Elect; 1983
Milton S. Eisenhower, Educational Statesman; 1983
Eisenhower: The President; 1984
Pegasus Bridge: June 6, 1944; 1984
Nixon: The Education of a Politician; 1987

Ben Logan, 1920-

Ben Logan was born and raised on a remote ridgetop farm in southwestern Wisconsin. After graduating from Seneca High School he studied agricultural journalism at the University of Wisconsin, Platteville and Madison campuses. Then, during World War II, he served 4 1/2 years in the Navy, participating in combat with amphibious landings in Africa and Italy. After the war he worked as a merchant seaman in Europe and South America, before returning to Wisconsin to complete his master's degree. Further travels took him to Mexico to study anthropology and creative writing. While there, he met and married his American wife. From 1960-1985 Logan was a senior producer for United Methodist Communications in New York state. Last year the Logans moved into Ben's boyhood home after purchasing 102 acres of the old "Seldom Seen" ridge farm, south of Gays Mills.

His autobiographical classic, The Land Remembers, is finely tuned to the earth and to the seasons of his family's Crawford County farm, where he grew up during the Depression. Through the book, one experiences the farm's slowly turning seasons and appreciates the effects on the land. A universal response by readers has been enthusiasm for Logan's remarkable success in capturing the reality of those gentler days. Time's review states: "Some collective memory says that this is all familiar, that we ourselves have experienced it." The Wisconsin Library Association awarded Logan the 1976 Banta Award for this literary achievement. Originally published in 1975, Land has also been issued in large-type and in two paperback editions.

Logan's latest book is the 1983 novel, The Empty Meadow, Also set on a farm during the 1930's, this is the sensitive story of an adolescent's awakening to manhood. The year after it was published, Logan received the Distinguished Alumnus Award from UW-Platteville. His most recent achievement is an hour-long TV documentary, "Taking Children Seriously," which was aired on March 16, 1986. For this project he won an Emmy Award for best written documentary.

Although he is officially retired, Logan says, "I don't like the word 'retired.' I prefer to say I'm redirecting my energies." He keeps active through speaking engagements and through teaching writing. Currently he is writing poetry, an anti-war novel, and a Christmas book.

Writings:

Books:

The Land Remembers, 1975
The Empty Meadow, 1983
Film:
"Taking Children Seriously," produced by NBC-TV, 1986