This memoir offers an unrivaled firsthand account of World War II in the Pacific - what it looked like, sounded like, smelled like, and most of all, what it felt like to one who underwent all but the ultimate of its experiences.
©1979, 1980 William Manchester; (P)2007 Blackstone Audio Inc.
"It belongs with the best war memoirs ever written." (Los Angeles Times)
"A strong and honest account." (The New York Times Book Review)
"When Manchester speaks of the awesome heroism and hideous suffering of the Marines he lived with and fought with, he is reverent before the mystery of individual courage and gallantry." (Baltimore Sun)
Retired teacher of literature with an interest in religion and in science and in history. I have loved reading for 50 years.
Manchester fought as a marine in the Pacific in WWII, and he returned there to visit and to drive out the demons of black memory in 1978. His memoir of the trip and of the gruesome horrific events of the 1940's island warfare is the best war memoir I have read in 50 years of reading. The oral presentation in this audiobook is equally well done. The listener begins to think that the speaker himself experienced what Manchester wrote about. Surperlative, simply superlative.
The author is almost always worth reading or listening to. This book is no exception. He really is passionate here as it is biographical.
William Manchester is a brilliant writer who just happened to have been there in the thick of it, the war in the Pacific. I usually have a hard time understanding descriptions of battles, but this is clear, devastating writing which puts you right there.
There are many good memoirs of war, and many great memoirs of the Pacific War. This is not one of them. The reminsiscence of Manchester's war in Okinawa, at the end of the book, would be worth reading if there were no other accounts of this tragic battle But, despite the title, this book is largely concerned with two topics that go beyond his reminiscences of the Pacific War. The greater part of the book are not his reminiscences of battles he fought in, but popular histories of battles he has only read about. This part is filled with pedantic quotes in several languages that appear intended to impress us with Manchester's learning. The other main topic are dubious anecdotes about Manchester's personal life in and around the time of the war. Many are either of suspicious authenticity or are completely tactless. I strongly doubt his account for why he was thrown out of officer candidate's school. In one anecdote he tells us how honourable his comrades were, to the point that a man who described having "made it" with a sweet heart was shunned by Manchester's squad; in another anecdote he his boasting of the size of his Johnson, and his anatomical description of making out with a girl in a movie theatre, makes one cringe.
If you are inclined to give Manchester a chance, by and read the book. The narrator of this book has two very different, but equally grating styles. The main style is a forced flat delivery like someone reading announcements on a public address system in a 1930s movie. When Manchester quotes someone else, the narrator adopts a cartoon voice that is seldom appropriate for the person quoted.
I supposed die-hard students of the Pacific War will read this anyway, but if they are real students they will not learn anything except Bill Manchester's self-regard.
I'm a relative novice to the history of the pacific war in WWII and I purchased this book for 2 reasons: I wanted a basic overview from a soldier's point of view and I've read one of Mr. Manchester's other books and liked it. It's excellent on many fronts and several scenes and images will stick with me forever. From a historical perspective, it's probably a bit light. The overview of the war is in broad strokes but it works for this book. He frequently and fluidly moves from broad historical overview to his specific experiences although I did occasionally lose track of his specific experiences and those he was recounting from his fellow marines. The audiobook reader is overall good.
Of the more than 100 books I have listened to at Audible, months later, this one sticks out in my mind. I have read all of Manchester's books. He is a fine historian but this autobiographical telling of one Marine's experience in the Pacific war is exciting, insightful and above all honest. It is not a romanticized view of war. This is an extraordinary piece of writing with a lot to be learned from it about the experience of courage, fear, and friendship.
I have listened to many audiotapes over the past couple of years and this was definitly the worst. There was some interesting and worthwhile information about the war. Most of the story was disconnected ramblings about himself, which was annoying and of little interest. This was especially disappointing since it cost two credits.
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