HELENA, Mont. — Hugh Ambrose, who wrote the World War II history “The Pacific” after years of researching for his father, the renowned historian Stephen Ambrose, has died at age 48.

Ambrose died of cancer Saturday in Helena, sister Stephenie Ambrose Tubbs said Tuesday.

Hugh Ambrose began research for “The Pacific” with his father, and he carried on after Stephen Ambrose’s death in 2002.

That culminated in the book and a 2010 HBO miniseries produced by Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks that tells the story of the war’s Pacific Theater through the eyes of individual Marines.

Ambrose began his career while he was in graduate school at the University of Montana in the mid-1990s by helping his father research books such as “Undaunted Courage,” the story of the Lewis and Clark expedition.

He continued to conduct research for Stephen Ambrose’s books, including “Nothing Like it in the World” and “Citizen Soldiers,” and worked on the HBO miniseries “Band of Brothers” that was based on his father’s book.


But Hugh Ambrose found his own success with the best-selling “The Pacific.”

“His dad’s legacy was important to him, but he definitely was a historian in his own right,” his wife, Andrea Ambrose, said Tuesday.

Ambrose grew up in Louisiana, where his father was a professor at the University of New Orleans.

He was on the board of directors and later the vice president of development for the National World War II Museum in New Orleans, which his father helped create.

He and his family moved to Helena after Hurricane Katrina struck New Orleans in 2005. The Ambrose family had lived in Montana part time, and Hugh Ambrose had earned his undergraduate and graduate degrees at the University of Montana.

Ambrose continued to work on “The Pacific” and raise money for the National World War II Museum after the move to Helena.


He was a trustee for Helena’s Lewis and Clark Library, was on the board of the Myna Loy Center for the Performing and Media Arts and was the father of two children.

“He was an amazing father and husband and friend, and just the most solid, honest person that I’ve ever met in my life,” Andrea Ambrose said.

“He was the kind of guy who just wanted to do the right thing.”

A funeral Mass for Ambrose will be held Friday at Saint Mary Catholic Community in Helena.

Only subscribers are eligible to post comments. Please subscribe or login first for digital access. Here’s why.

Use the form below to reset your password. When you've submitted your account email, we will send an email with a reset code.