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Publisher's Summary

An engrossing, epic history of the US Army in the Pacific War, from the acclaimed author of The Dead and Those About to Die.

"This eloquent and powerful narrative is military history written the way it should be." (James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian)

"Out here, mention is seldom seen of the achievements of the Army ground troops," wrote one officer in the fall of 1943, "whereas the Marines are blown up to the skies." Even today, the Marines are celebrated as the victors of the Pacific, a reflection of a well-deserved reputation for valor. Yet the majority of fighting and dying in the war against Japan was done not by Marines but by unsung Army soldiers.

John C. McManus, one of our most highly acclaimed historians of World War II, takes listeners from Pearl Harbor - a rude awakening for a military woefully unprepared for war - to Makin, a sliver of coral reef where the Army was tested against the increasingly desperate Japanese. In between were nearly two years of punishing combat as the Army transformed, at times unsteadily, from an undertrained garrison force into an unstoppable juggernaut, and America evolved from an inward-looking nation into a global superpower.

At the pinnacle of this richly told story are the generals: Douglas MacArthur, a military autocrat driven by his dysfunctional lust for fame and power; Robert Eichelberger, perhaps the greatest commander in the theater yet consigned to obscurity by MacArthur's jealousy; "Vinegar Joe" Stillwell, a prickly soldier miscast in a diplomat's role; and Walter Krueger, a German-born officer who came to lead the largest American ground force in the Pacific. Enriching the narrative are the voices of men otherwise lost to history: The uncelebrated Army grunts who endured stifling temperatures, apocalyptic tropical storms, rampant malaria and other diseases, as well as a fanatical enemy bent on total destruction.

This is an essential, ambitious book, the first of two volumes, a compellingly written and boldly revisionist account of a war that reshaped the American military and the globe and continues to resonate today.

©2019 John C. McManus (P)2019 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

"A very fine account of war in the Pacific founded on wide research and excellent judgement." (Antony Beevor, New York Times best-selling author of D-Day: The Battle for Normandy and Ardennes 1944: The Battle of the Bulge)

"This eloquent and powerful narrative is military history written the way it should be. John C. McManus has seamlessly blended the strategic and tactical story with deep analysis of the political context and social composition of armies that embodied the cultures of the nations from which they were formed. During the two years covered by this book, American forces in the Pacific theater transitioned from fighting on a shoestring defensive to the beginning of mighty offensives that would prove irreversible." (James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom)  

“An expert, opinionated World War II history with some unsettling conclusions.... Entirely engrossing.” (Kirkus Reviews, starred review)

What listeners say about Fire and Fortitude

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    4 out of 5 stars

Excellent Work In Spite of A Woke Author

What I can't fathom is why it's necessary to constantly preface political correctness and make sure the reader understands that the author is officially woke, but must use reference the things "acceptable" during WWII. Please stop. History is history, and what the reader wants is a detailed WWII history, not what the author wishes it was. That aside, this book makes up for those moments of unnecessary clarification. The Pacific War was brutal, unyielding, and absolutely heart-wrenching. There is no downplaying this, and McManus does an excellent job in parlaying these facts. Sticking with the facts always works, because history is glory, great falls, death, life, and all the things in between. It's bloody, brutal, and unrelenting .

Walter Dixon does a wonderful job narrating this work. Often the Pacific War is overshadowed by the Normandy invasion, and other campaigns on the European continent. But this work and other volumes on the Pacific war have helped bring it to the forefront. Well done.

4 people found this helpful

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Sharpens Focus on Army’s Role in Pacific War

After three generations have passed, the Pacific War comes sharply in focus from the US Army’s point of view. Excellently written, Joh Mc Manus’s first volume concentrates on Generals Douglas MacArthur, Joseph Stilwell, and their staffs and subordinates. Yet much of the story is told from the diaries and memoirs of everyday soldiers, both American and Japanese. Truly global in literary scale, this book is an indispensable addition to any military Historian’s library.

2 people found this helpful

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Very good,

Had many details that are not usually in found in pacific war books. I did think that the author made so many excuses for the Jap cruelty and the horrific treatment of the POWs.

2 people found this helpful

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SUPERLATIVE

THE NARRATION IS FLAWLESS…perfect pronunciation, engaging rhythm and inflection, pace is just right.

CONTENT…even better than the quality of narrative is the author’s thorough, evidence based argument that it was the army—not the marines—that did most of the fighting the Pacific.
Briefly describing a few chapters may be instructive.

Chapter 6: HELL
Anyone who has even slightly knowledgeable of Japanese POW camps know of the the systemic,
unspeakable cruelty of Japanese prison guards. In this chapter, the author describes treatment of hospitalized American POWS so sickening that listeners with queasy stomachs should fast forward to the next chapter. McManus describes conditions and treatment that are graphic in the extreme.

Chapter 7: BUNA
At the same time the Marines fought Guadalcanal the Army fought equally ferociously at BUNA, about 100 miles west of New Guinea’s eastern most point. McManus describes in some detail this battle.

Overall, I highly recommend this audio. McManus gets it right, and his readers and listeners will too.




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Doesn’t really cover new ground

The author rails against McArthur and then focuses the first couple of hours of the book on him. This is maybe a 12 hour audible book that was stretch way to far with familiar facts and characters.

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Phenomenal work

Walter Dixon, does a superior job here and the book is very good for indeed!

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well searched, but impersonal, judgemental

disturbingly revisionist, story is nonetheless well researched. modern authors tend to not realize contemporary mores were not applicable

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Excellent study as far as it went

A lot of new material on an under studied and under appreciated contribution of the US Army in the Pacific. Two things detracted from an otherwise Stirling effort: 1) Technical inaccuracies that would have surely been eliminated had a knowlwdgible combat veteran proof read the manuscript and the collarary that some or most technical data would have benefitted from some elaboration, and 2) as problems presented themselves in this truly unique trifecta of technology, terrain and long distance logistics no discussion of solutions or in some cases any acknowledgement that there was a problem. Hopefully this will solved in a follow-up volume; book only went through 1943. The narration was excrllant, and the pronunciation of Pacif Island names used was the same as commonly used by US forces without attempting to change emphasis or split syllables. Having grown up an Army brat with a father that fought under MacArthur and later served in the USMC and lived in base housing where every street was a Pacific Island, battle or campaign its disconcerting to hear an extra syllable added to Tarawa, or mangling Entiwetok to be unrecognizable. I appreciate the use of common American pronunciations.

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Eye Opener

Fire and Fortitude opened my eyes to the battles that the Army fought in the Pacific. Too many times we hear about what the Marines accomplished, but hardly ever do you hear about the Army in the Pacific theater. I think this book is a must read for anyone interested in military history.

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Disappointed

This book was ok. Best in its discussion of the Aleutian campaigns. Overall not as solid as other books I have read on this subject area.

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  • A J Priestley
  • 06-01-21

Fantastic read

Really good read can't wait for the next installment well researched well written and well read