This modern classic of military history has been called "one of the most important personal accounts of war that I have ever read" by distinguished historian John Keegan. Author E. B. Sledge served with the First Marine Division during World War II, and his first-hand narrative is unsurpassed in its sincerity.
Sledge’s experience shows in this fascinating account of two of the most harrowing and pivotal island battles of the Pacific theater. On Peleliu and Okinawa, the action was extremely fierce. Amidst oppressive heat and over land obliterated by artillery shells, the combat raged ferociously. Casualties were extreme on both sides, and by the time the Americans had broken through at Okinawa, more than 62,000 Japanese soldiers were dead. Against military policy, Sledge scribbled notes and jammed them into his copy of the New Testament. Those notes form the backbone of what Navy Times said "has been called the best World War II memoir of an enlisted man."
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"Eugene Sledge became more than a legend with his memoir, With the Old Breed. He became a chronicler, a historian, a storyteller who turns the extremes of the war in the Pacific—the terror, the camaraderie, the banal and the extraordinary—into terms we mortals can grasp." (Tom Hanks)
“In all the literature on the Second World War, there is not a more honest, realistic or moving memoir than Eugene Sledge's. This is the real deal, the real war: unvarnished, brutal, without a shred of sentimentality or false patriotism, a profound primer on what it actually was like to be in that war. It is a classic that will outlive all the armchair generals' safe accounts of—not the 'good war'—but the worst war ever.” (Ken Burns)
As a Marine, I've read about everything on the Corps in battle. I'm also a history buff with many, many books in my virtual and real library. This is the best first person account you will read of combat generally and the Pacific in particulaar.
It gives a first hand view of what passes through the minds of men asked to attack into probable deadly enemy fire in the most hostile environment.
The author died a few years ago and I wish he were still with us so that I could shake his hand. He brings alive the horror of some of the most terrible infantry fighting in history and shows why the Marines are, well, the Marines. It is fitting to read this around Memorial Day and remember what it took to keep our country great.
Poignant, funny, tragic, triumphant. E. B. Sledge's account of his service with the Marine First Division during WWII is nothing less than a must read, um, listen to. Sledge makes you feel as if you are seated directly in front of him, and he is talking directly to you. Sledge makes the ordinary, sound extraordinary, and the extraordinary, sound fantastic. Sledge not only explains the glory of war, but the gruesome realities of war as well. This is not a John Wayne movie, but an accurate account of what really happened. Some lost their lives. Some lost parts of their bodies. And some lost parts of their souls. Sledge is like an accountant. Adding up the true cost of war. This book is a must for any library.
If there is a definitive book on the Marine combat experience in World War II, this has got to be it. Narrator George Wilson does a magnificent job bringing every page to life with exactly the appropriate nuance and inflection for every word. The result is as if listening to Sledge tell his story to you while sitting in his living room. The HBO series "The Pacific" gave only a hint of Sledge's story, while in this book, in his own words, he paints a vivid and riveting account of his actual experiences.
We watched The Pacific series on HBO, which was a bit hard to follow. Of course the series is pretty much based on this book and after listening to it, perhaps we will re-watch the HBO version and follow it much better.
The story is, of course, excellent and riveting. The experience of all soldiers during WW II is beyond a civilian's comprehension, but this book does a better job than others of detailing the true horrors of warfare. I would recommend this listen to all particularly as we near July 4 celebrations to remind all of us the sacrifice so many have made (and continue to make) for those of use enjoying the freedom they provide.
From the intro to the end, this was hard to put down and I found myself listening to an entire chapter over again as so much was so hard to comprehend; the conditions, the brutality, the mindset. Reading it is one thing, but to live through it, like I said, I found it so hard comprehend going thru it and be able to "talk" about it so matter-of-factly. It followed a timeline which helped me keep on track, and some of those gut-feelings and thoughts at the time, well, I just can't describe. Since I was a kid I've had a keen interest in WWII and have read plenty, and this story is definitely among the top three. The narration was top-notch also, with no over-dramatization. The incidents described were drama enough. I wish Mr. Sledge had done more writing, as he really had the knack for it.
E.B. Sledge joined the Marine Corps in 1944 out of a sense of patriotism. In this account of the battles of Peleliu and Okinawa Sledge quickly and effectively relates how patriotism was put aside and survival become the only concern.
Most authors on war give the reader a panoramic view of the battlefield, as if the writer was aware of everything happening around him. Sledge gives the reader an uncomfortably realistic portrayal of what combat is really like. The experience described is beyond imagination. Sledge puts the reader on the island with the Marines. Here we have descriptions of decaying corpses filled with maggots, rotting food and human excrement. He says these sights and smells completely filled his senses and were always present. The heat and constant danger drained and depressed those doing the fighting. That same stress caused other problems; A loss of humanity. Dr. Sledge relates on scene where a fellow Marine is attempting to cut teeth from the mouth of a Japanese soldier, who is still alive. On a different day a young Marine is casually tossing small pebbles into the open skull of a dead enemy soldier. This account will put you beside Sledge and his friends, and you too will be hoping for the war to end.
Over and over Sledge shows what war really is - a waste. It is a waste of men and resources. It destroys lives and souls.
If you want to know what the brave men of the US Marines experienced in defeating the Japanese, this is the book to read. It is agonizing to get through because it conveys the agony of a line Marine. It is a book you will be unable to purge from your mind - ever. This book was also the basis for the HBO Series "The Pacific." When one compares the two, it becomes clear that "The Pacific" focused on the dark side of the US Marines and soft peddled the atrocities of the Japanese. Shameful.
Terrific job by Eugene Sledge. You feel like you were at Peleliu and Okinawa in 1944-45. As a former Marine (1965-68) it brought back many memories from the lingo used in his book (i.e. irish pennants). Recommend must read for anyone interested in the Marines and the brutality of war.
Very intriguing story that provides the listener with a whole new look at the Hell of war and commands respect for our greatest generation.
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