Skip to main content

May 1998

James Cameron, a special-effects action director and the grand wizard of the latest Titanic movie, has been doing the media rounds, proclaiming the utter accuracy of his fabrication: five years in the creation; painstaking research for the "proper level of reality" even as far as having carpets made by the same British company that wove the originals; a slew of Titanic historians (read "buffs") consulted and paid off.

A special excerpt, by Stephen E. Ambrose, from the newly-published AMERICAN HERITAGE® New History of World War II.

It wasn't any different getting killed in World War II from how it had been in the Civil War or World War I, but if the shrapnel, bullet, or tree limb wounded a GI without killing him, his experience as a casualty was infinitely better than Johnny Reb's or Billy Yank's or a doughboy's, beginning with his survival chances. In 1864, 50 percent or more of men admitted to hospitals died; in 1918, it was 8 percent; in 1944, 4 percent.

Wonder drugs, especially sulfa and penicillin, and advanced surgical techniques helped make the improvements possible, but the first reason for such success was the speed with which wounded men were treated. It began with the medics. In training camps they had been mildly despised because most of them were conscientious objectors, and often ridiculed, called "Pill Pushers" or worse. But in combat they were loved and admired without stint. "Overseas," medic Buddy Gianelloni recalled, "it became different. They called you medic and before you knew it, it was Doc. I was 19 at the time."

We hope you enjoy our work.

Please support this 72-year tradition of trusted historical writing and the volunteers that sustain it with a donation to American Heritage.


Featured Articles

Often thought to have been a weak President, Carter was strong-willed in doing what he thought was right, regardless of expediency or political fallout.

Rarely has the full story been told how a famed botanist, a pioneering female journalist, and First Lady Helen Taft battled reluctant bureaucrats to bring Japanese cherry trees to Washington. 

In his Second Inaugural Address, Abraham Lincoln embodied leading in a time of polarization, political disagreement, and differing understandings of reality.

Native American peoples and the lands they possessed loomed large for Washington, from his first trips westward as a surveyor to his years as President.

A hundred years ago, America was rocked by riots, repression, and racial violence.

During Pres. Washington’s first term, an epidemic killed one tenth of all the inhabitants of Philadelphia, then the capital of the young United States.

Now a popular state park, the unassuming geological feature along the Illinois River has served as the site of centuries of human habitation and discovery.  

The recent discovery of the hull of the battleship Nevada recalls her dramatic action at Pearl Harbor and ultimate revenge on D-Day as the first ship to fire on the Nazis.

Our research reveals that 19 artworks in the U.S. Capitol honor men who were Confederate officers or officials. What many of them said, and did, is truly despicable.

Here is probably the most wide-ranging look at Presidential misbehavior ever published in a magazine.

When Germany unleashed its blitzkreig in 1939, the U.S. Army was only the 17th largest in the world. FDR and Marshall had to build a fighting force able to take on the Nazis, against the wishes of many in Congress.

Roast pig, boiled rockfish, and apple pie were among the dishes George and Martha enjoyed during the holiday in 1797. Here are some actual recipes.