From the Japanese soldiers' carefully calculated - and ultimately foiled - attempt to build a series of impregnable island forts on the ground to the tireless efforts of the Americans who struggled against a tenacious adversary and the temperature and terrain of the island itself, Robert Leckie captures the loneliness, the agony, and the heat of 24-hour-a-day fighting on Guadalcanal.
Combatants from both sides are brought to life: General Archer Vandegrift, who first assembled an amphibious strike force; Isoruku Yamamoto, the naval general whose innovative strategy was tested; the island-born Allied scout Jacob Vouza, who survived hideous torture to uncover the enemy's plans; and Saburo Sakai, the ace flier who shot down American planes with astonishing ease.
Propelling the Allies to eventual victory, Guadalcanal was truly the turning point of the war. Challenge for the Pacific is an unparalleled, authoritative account of this great fight that forever changed our world.
©1964, renewed 1993 Robert Leckie (P)2011 Tantor
"Leckie puts you in the foxhole." (The New York Times Book Review)
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This telling of the Guadalcanal story captures the desperation and valor of this critical campaign. The story flows like a novel, and unlike many history books, it really draws you into the story.
What made this story significant to me is the family connection. My father served with the 1st Marine Division on Guadalcanal and I recall him speaking of being abandoned on that island. He was seriously injured during Japanese shelling and evacuated to New Zealand. This book puts all this into context for me.
I previously listened to “Neptune’s Inferno“ which covers the naval battles of the Guadalcanal campaign. That book is an excellent follow up reading as there is little overlap, but they are closely linked nonetheless.
First rate description from one of our Marine heroes who actually fought on that Island as a front-line infantryman. Very enjoyable and well written. Kudos to the skillful narration too!
I read Leckie's "Helmet for My Pillow," a very personal account of his experience on Guadalcanal, and was interested in his more formal writing. Leckie was a sportswriter before entering the Marines, and he seems to have found his life's work in writing about war. "Helmet" is all foreground, a careening memoir of goldbricking, insubordination, miserable conditions, bacchanalia while on leave in Australia, and occasional valor. Chance and boredom and resentment of authority are mixed with fear and heroism.
"Challenge for the Pacific" has a human thread throughout, giving life to the cultures -- American, native, and Japanese -- that collided on the island, but it also provides historical context and the arc of battle. It is well-organized, researched, and written. Leckie tells an objective story here, but one remembers that he was there when he describes the emotions of the Marines when they finally left the island, a small moment that no ordinary historian could have captured.
I want to read more of Leckie.
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