After Japan's capture of the Philippines in 1942 forced General Douglas MacArthur to flee to Australia, the archipelago became a crucial battleground in the Pacific during World War II. MacArthur promised a return, and in 1944 he and his troops invaded the island of Leyte, engaging in a long and brutal battle with the Japanese over control of the country. Nathan Prefer's history of the struggle is well-researched, and the drama of combat comes to life with Jones Allen's impeccable performance. His gravelly voice imbues the firsthand accounts with even more of a sense of gravitas and thrilling danger.
When General Douglas MacArthur arrived in Australia in March 1942, having successfully left the Philippines to organize a new American army, he vowed, "I shall return!" More than two years later he did return, at the head of a large U.S. army to retake the Philippines from the Japanese. The place of his re-invasion was the central Philippine Island of Leyte. Much has been written about the naval Battle of Leyte Gulf that his return provoked, but almost nothing has been written about the three-month long battle to seize Leyte itself.
Originally intending to delay the advancing Americans, the Japanese high command decided to make Leyte the "Decisive Battle" for the western Pacific and rushed crack Imperial Army units from Manchuria, Korea, and Japan itself to halt and then overwhelm the Americans on Leyte. As were most battles in the Pacific, it was a long, bloody, and brutal fight. As did the Japanese, the Americans were forced to rush in reinforcements to compensate for the rapid increase in Japanese forces on Leyte.
This unique battle also saw a major Japanese counterattack - not a banzai charge, but a carefully thought-out counteroffensive designed to push the Americans off the island and capture the elusive General MacArthur. Both American and Japanese battalions spent days surrounded by the enemy, often until relieved or overwhelmed. Under General Yamashita’s guidance it also saw a rare deployment of Japanese paratroopers in conjunction with the ground assault offensive.
Finally there were more naval and air battles, all designed to protect or cover landing operations of friendly forces. Leyte was a three-dimensional battle, fought with the best both sides had to offer, and did indeed decide the fate of the Philippines in World War II.
The only thing the audio book is lacking is a map. Frequently I had to consult a map to get the feel of the terrain and distances. Unlike the European theater, which I assume most readers will be familiar with. Leyte is virtually unknown to most. So, get a map and start listening.
Honestly, I've listened to a lot of WW-II books. This is just lacking everywhere. Anyone can put a book together by reading the Action Reports. There is just very little depth to this book.
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