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Editorial Reviews

Stephen Hoye gives a solid narration of Campbell's account of the battle for New Guinea during WWII. The campaign, largely eclipsed by the struggle over Guadalcanal, was a pivotal struggle that might even have been a turning point in the Pacific theater. In the long, grueling, dirty fight men were felled by disease as often as by bullets. Listeners follow individual soldiers, the 32nd Division's Ghost Mountain Boys, from their training through the campaign. Campbell often quotes from letters home. He also quotes from Japanese journals found later. This gives the audiobook real humanity. Hoye doesn't try to give each character a distinctive voice, but he varies pace and tone to show when individuals are speaking for themselves.

Publisher's Summary

Lying due north of Australia, New Guinea is among the world's largest islands. In 1942, when World War II exploded onto its shores, it was an inhospitable, cursorily mapped, disease-ridden land of dense jungle, towering mountain peaks, deep valleys, and fetid swamps. Coveted by the Japanese for its strategic position, New Guinea became the site of one of the South Pacific's most savage campaigns. Despite their lack of jungle training, the 32nd Division's Ghost Mountain Boys were assigned the most grueling mission of the entire Pacific campaign: to march 130 miles over rugged mountains and to protect the right flank of the Australian army as they fought to push the Japanese back to the village of Buna.

The 32nd Division lacked more than training. They were without even the basics necessary for survival. They waded through brush and vines without the aid of machetes. They did not have insect repellent. Without waterproof containers, their matches were useless, and the quinine and vitamin pills they carried, as well as salt and chlorination tablets, crumbled in their pockets. Exhausted and pushed to the brink of human endurance, the Ghost Mountain Boys fell victim to malnutrition and disease. Forty-two days after they set out, they arrived two miles south of Buna, nearly shattered by the experience.

Arrival in Buna provided no respite. The 32nd Division was ordered to launch an immediate assault on the Japanese position. After two months of furious, sometimes hand-to-hand combat, the decimated division finally achieved victory.

Reminiscent of classics like Band of Brothers and The Things They Carried, this harrowing portrait of a largely overlooked campaign is part war diary, part extreme adventure tale, and, through letters, journals, and interviews, part biography of a group of men who fought to survive in an environment every bit as fierce as the enemy they faced.

©2007 James Campbell; (P)2007 Tantor

Critic Reviews

"Riveting....The Ghost Mountain Boys offers a new, harrowing world to explore." (Richmond Times-Dispatch)
"Superb....The Ghost Mountain Boys is carefully organized, researched and written with great sensitivity and understanding." (Chicago Sun-Times)

What members say

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  • Overall
  • Roy
  • Beaumont, TX, United States
  • 04-15-09

Hard Times

James Campbell has done a great service to all Americans by retelling the story of the Army's Infantry campaign in New Guinea. The breath taking experiences of US troups in that arena and their suffering is well told. He adds to this the Japanese experience in a similar fashion which makes the book a fitting tribute to all who participated. This is a well written and well read book that will keep the interest of everyone encountering it. It will inform and inspire those who are knowledgable and those who are novices to the topic as well. Those were hard times.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • richard
  • los angeles, cA, United States
  • 10-29-09

painful reading

I don't know how readers are paired with the books they read but this a miserable match. Everything about this reader's voice, in my opinion, is better suited to reading a Harlequin type novel. I couldn't get past the first two hours. Proceed at your own risk

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

I wanted to like this book

I love history
I am very personally motivated to learn about this
particular campaign

But this book is just dull. Idk if it is the reader, the writhing i.e. what. But lord this book is dull.

I don't know how busy this interesting and amazing campaign has nothing. The book doesn't engage or click you with the story or care about the characters.

It reads like a high school history text book

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Narration is disappointing.

Would you try another book from James Campbell and/or Stephen Hoye?

I think this is an accurate account of the New Guinea campaign. I don't know for sure because I found the narration so sing-songish and cloying that I just could not finish the "listen." Too bad. If you have an alternative suggestion, please send it. I will give that one a try.

What other book might you compare The Ghost Mountain Boys to and why?

Just about any other book on the New Guinea Campaign.

What didn’t you like about Stephen Hoye’s performance?

Overly sweet, cloying.

Did The Ghost Mountain Boys inspire you to do anything?

Find a suitable alternative "listen."

Any additional comments?

A different narrator is likely to do this book justice.

  • Overall
  • Ryan
  • Washougal, WA United States
  • 07-10-08

Ghost Mountain Boys

Very interesting and detailed.

2 of 6 people found this review helpful