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Victory Fever on Guadalcanal

Japan's First Land Defeat of World War II
Narrated by: Bill Nevitt
Length: 9 hrs and 3 mins
Categories: History, 20th Century
4.5 out of 5 stars (29 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Following their rampage through Southeast Asia and the Pacific in the five months after Pearl Harbor, Japanese forces moved into the Solomon Islands, intending to cut off the critical American supply line to Australia. But when they began to construct an airfield on Guadalcanal in July 1942, the Americans captured the almost completed airfield for their own strategic use. The Japanese Army countered by sending to Guadalcanal a reinforced battalion under the command of Col. Kiyonao Ichiki. The attack that followed would prove to be the first of four attempts by the Japanese over six months to retake the airfield, resulting in some of the most vicious fighting of the Pacific War.

During the initial battle on the night of August 20-21, 1942, Marines wiped out Ichiki's men, who - imbued with "victory fever" - had expected a quick and easy victory. William H. Bartsch draws on correspondence, interviews, diaries, memoirs, and official war records, including those translated from Japanese sources, to offer an intensely human narrative of the failed attempt to recapture Guadalcanal's vital airfield.

The book is published by Texas A&M University Press.

©2014 William H. Bartsch (P)2016 Redwood Audiobooks

Critic Reviews

"Bartsch succeeds in delivering another valuable glimpse into the lives of the average soldier. The depth of his research is on display throughout." (US Military Review)

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  • Gillian
  • Austin, TX, United States
  • 11-25-18

Action Punctuated By The Dry, The Drudge

I suppose I expected more in the way of humanity and the experiences of the men who lived the combat of this, the first several weeks of Guadalcanal, seeing as the Publisher's Summary cites so many resources, especially diaries and memoirs. And while it does have the memories of many men, Victory Fever on Guadalcanal doesn't have many of them.
For instance, a line will tell us about gnats swarming into eyes, suggesting hell to walk through, but we don't get anything about what the men actually experienced, how it felt to be walking through that.
And there are many men. Many, many men. So many that I found it somewhat confusing at times. And there's planning for battles and engagements. Much, much planning. So much that I'd get somewhat bored at times (especially since hey! when has something ever gone according to plan?).
Still, when the listener gets to the actual engagements, there's plenty of action to carry you through and Victory Fever on Guadalcanal delivers. It's really good there.
Bill Nevitt does an admirable job, especially gamely running through the many Japanese names (tho' I'm no expert on Japanese, so I can't 100 per cent guarantee that it's all correct). And he does well in griping when someone gripes, elevating his voice when someone else shouts. I can't tell you how key this is if you're keeping a listener hooked in a book that could be considered dry at points.
A good listen, enough to make me wonder about seeking out Guadalcanal Diary to find out the rest of the history.

I received this audiobook free in exchange for an honest and unbiased review

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

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This a great Guadalcanal book, with caveats.

**I was given this book for free in exchange for an unbiased review**

I have read and listened to several books on Guadalcanal and Operation Watchtower. This one stands out in some areas, however, it must be noted that it only covers infantry combat. There is no coverage of the sea battles in Iron Bottom Sound or mention of the doings over the Cactus Air force except for when their doings directly impacted the action already being covered.

There also is no operational coverage. You will not be taught about the strategic goals or there application in the greater war effort.

What you do get, and I particularly liked this, is visceral minute by minute descriptions of the action at the Tenaru. The first chapter does cover ship life in route to the Solomons. You will get a plethora of first hand accounts. Many of them are from notable people that have their own books. Robert Leckie, Sid Phillips, Eugene Sledge, ect.

So in short if you want an over view of Guadalcanal, don’t get this book. If you want vivid, excellent combat action and lots of it, this is for you and I highly recommend it.

This was also my first book narrated by Bill Nevitt, he is an excellent choice for the genre and I hope he does more military/history work. He also has a prefect pace for listening to 1x and 1.25x as well. Very well read in my opinion.

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Victory Fever on Guadalcanal

Victory Fever on Guadalcanal:Japan's First Land Defeat of World War II
Author: William H. Bartsch
Narrator: Bill Nevitt
Listening Time: 9 Hrs. 3 Mins.

I always like to preface any reviews I give with this information.
I am a 68 year old female who has been an avid reader since I was around 10 or 11 years old.
I read primarily for pleasure.
I have a great many interests and do a lot of research for personal pleasure and knowledge as well.
Ancient History, Archeology, Science, Science Fiction, Fantasy, Mystery are some of the interests I have.


Disclaimer: "This Audiobook was given by the author, narrator, or publisher at no cost, in exchange for an unbiased honest review."

Having had uncles that served in various military services during WW II, I grew up hearing a little about different things about World War II, and have always had an interest in this particular war; probably because it seemed more personal to me.


I had an uncle who served in the Merchant Marines during world War II and survived to live to be 87 years old.

This audiobook was different than most I listen to. I usually listen for pleasure but occasionally I like to learn about historical events by audiobook, rather than reading since hearing the audiobook makes it more realistic for me.

This audiobook I had to listen to in parts as there was so much information to try to digest and to visualize.
Also since Geography was never my strong suite, I had to get a visual sense of what was going on as well.


These men did a great service and yet at times I was appalled at the lack of discipline some of these young men showed during this battle. Of course, having said that, they were "young men".

The logistics truly were at times, nightmarish. The conditions were brutal and health problems were terrible as well.

The one thing I can say is that the author had to do a phenomenal amount of research to bring this incredible piece of history to life the way he did. I was particularly interested in hearing the battle plans, and the steps the Japanese military took as well as those of our military.

There were certainly gruesome parts that were hard to listen to, but I expected that with this kind of an audiobook and history of battle.

Author William H. Bartsch is an author whose work I had never read/listened to before but I would again; as his attention to detail, his commitment to research, and the time it took to cover this amazing battle and make it something that was very real, and interesting, was no easy task.

I don't know that many women are interested in World War II history so I can't say for certain but for me, as hard as it was to listen to some of this, it was also enlightening. As civilians, I don't think we have any idea of the kind of courage and bravery that fighting in a war involves! I have the utmost respect for any person who serves in the military.

Narrator Bill Nevitt is someone whose work I have listened to and this also was a bit of a different listening experience for me. Usually there is less history in the narrations I have heard previous to this, and mainly voice acting, rather than listening to the history he was giving us AND the different voices he acted. I was truly impressed with his grasp of the names of the Japanese Military commanders and the different accents of the people he represented in this audiobook.
His narrating is always exceptional and I did enjoy this as a listening experience as well as specific history I had not known.

To give an age group who might enjoy this book/audiobook, I would think that anyone with an interest or love of history and especially history of World War II would find this audiobook well worth their time.

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set the terms of fighting for the rest of the war

This is a detailed description of one of the key battles of the early Pacific War, the Battle of Tenaru River on Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands. It draws on documents and interviews but is richer on the American side than the Japanese, especially in the preliminary sections on forming the units, training etc. Bartsch is an experienced historian of this period who handles his material well, creating a vivid sense of the difficulties of limited training, no water, and fierce combat. The main description of the battle is followed by a good tactical analysis, which supports his main argument that the Japanese command lacked good intelligence, failed to direct the mission and was based on a mentality about fighting that was hugely wasteful of men's lives. It is a shame the maps of the print edition are not available as they would help understand the advance to the river and the positions of each side. Nevitt's narration is excellent. If you have enjoyed the memoir's of Marine's like Slade or Leckie, 'Victory Fever on Guadalcanal' is worth looking into.
I was given this free review copy at my request and have voluntarily left this unbiased review.

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  • KD
  • Somewhere
  • 01-16-19

Interesting piece of human history

Interesting piece of history

Knowledge is power. I would never think i would be interested in this, but you know it’s nice when discover something you wouldn’t bother with before and end up finding really interesting. It’s nice to strike gold like this sometimes

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Both very well-written and very well-researched

I truly enjoyed this audiobook. The author has done a great job in not only his writing but in his research of the battle of Guadalcanal which followed the Pearl Harbor attack.

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Detailed account of a specific wartime event

I'm thinking that this book will either be very satisfying to you as a reader, or somewhat frustrating. It will satisfy readers who are looking for lots of details about Guadalcanal and it will satisfy readers who have previous knowledge of the topic and are curious about learning additional information to add layers to their mental pictures of this Battle. On the other hand, I can definitely see how this book might be frustrating for other types of readers, who will have 'trouble seeing the forest for all the trees'. They might have wanted to develop a general understanding of what Guadalcanal was all about, why it happened, the consequences, and so on, without all of the dizzying facts and statistics. Also, these readers might have been looking for more of an emotional-based immersive narrative, perhaps focusing on fewer specific individuals, but giving us a stronger sense of how these guys were feeling during their experience. Different types of expectations from readers, requiring very different writing styles. I honestly think that it would be very challenging for a writer to satisfy the needs of both of these types of audiences in a single book...but.... if you're mindful of this, then this audiobook is worthwhile to listen to.

I'm a newbie on this topic (motivated by a recent episode of Dan Carlin's 'Hardcore History' podcast), so I'm one of the ones who initially felt overwhelmed by the details. However, I realized that if I didn't concentrate on trying to remember or contextualize each new detail, then it freed my mind to listen more broadly to the overall story. With repeat listens of this audiobook, I'm confident that more and more details will fall into place with less effort.

I have two laments about the book. First, especially for newbies like me, I wish I had a map or two to refer to while listening to the story. It's a trade-off with audiobooks - flexibility to listen anytime/anywhere but.... it's only audio, no other supporting medium. I really would like to see the industry address this somehow in the future. In the meantime, no map of Guadalcanal to help me figure out how the chess pieces were moving on the board. Second, it becomes evident early in the audiobook that the personnel on the ground were using faulty maps themselves, so they often thought they were at River A when in fact they were at River B (and so on). My second lament is about the distraction every time the narrator would name a place where the soldiers thought they were, and every single time he would immediately indicate where the soldiers actually were. Perhaps in print format it's less distracting but I found it to be somewhat distracting in audiobook format as the narrator made the continual parenthetical corrections to their geographic orientation.

The narrator was effective. His voice was mostly dispassionate, doing a serviceable job of getting through the details (and there are a lot, particularly in the first two hours of the audiobook!). (I just had a spontaneous mental image of the Professor from Gilligan's Island, for some reason - understated and competent...).

I was given this free review copy audiobook at my request and have voluntarily left this review.

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We owe a lot to the greatest generation

What a tough bunch of men. Imagine landing on an island full of enemy soldiers with have one goal to kill you and keep you from taking the island. That was Guadalcanal. They were dropped off by landing craft and it was unknown how many Japanese soldiers were on the island. They had no real idea what the fortifications were as well; much less hiding

The ships that dropped them off could not stay around for fear of having to engage the Japanese fleet so they were pretty much on their own with limited supplies such as food and ammunition even medical gear was limited..

This is their story. The people in it are real and the things happened as depicted. The fighting was brutal, Close quarters and in some cases hand to hand; many died on both sides from wounds and disease

This is a good book if you want to begin to understand some of the more significant battles of the 2nd world war and about the generation that fought in it. Few are left and we lose more each year. I enjoyed the book a great deal. It was educational, interesting and it made me feel very grateful and thankful we have people like this protecting ourselves in our nation. Willing to lay their lives on the line for us

The narrator book Bill Nevitt did a very good job his dictation was clear and understandable. I was given this book by the author to review and my opinions are honest and my own if I like it I will say so, if I do not like it I will say why I did not like it

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Lest We Forget History

Victory Fever on Guadalcanal: Japan's First Land Defeat of World War II... This is a well written and deeply researched piece of history. It gives a blow by blow account of this relatively small but important first defeat for the imperial Japanese army.
It is very informative and highlight the personal costs of the battle.
Beautifully narrated by Bill Nevitt, Who manages that blend between history and remembrance of the marines who lost their lives there.
A must read for anyone who is interested in WW2 history.
I was given a free copy of this audiobook at my own request, and voluntarily leave this review.

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VICTORY FEVER ON GUADALCANAL

A HISTORY OF WW2, ANOTHER GREAT HISTORY AUDIO THAT IS SURE TO INSPIRE THE YOUNG AND OLD ALIKE!

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  • Russell Tomlinson
  • 02-27-19

A very unique book

In many ways this is a very unique book about any action in the Pacific in WW2.It focuses on the single opening action as the Japanese attempt to regain the island of Guadalcanal.We follow the story of both the American and Japanese combatants.What is unique about this book in the amazing level of detail from the Japanese point of view and the stories of individuals.All the more surprising considering the horrendous level of casualties amongst the Japanese participants.Spoilt by a rather abrupt ending to the book.

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  • bluepits73
  • 12-13-18

Well Researched!

The author clearly did a wonderful job researching this historical/non-fiction. There was so many details and very well written descriptions that displayed how the whole event when down. I will say that it's not my usual listen and it was a little hard to get into at first, simply because of the volume of details we are given; but once I got deep enough into it I was interested.

The narration was absolutely perfect for this type of book. Serious enough to display the tone of a historical but not monotonous like some documentary type narrations. Good differentiation between dialogue and the general narrative.

Great representation of this historical event.

I received a review copy at my request and have voluntarily left this unbiased review.

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  • Demetra Toula Iliopoulos
  • 11-22-18

Victory of a historical audio

This is a historical real life event audio. This took place during World War Two. The Japanese brought the Americans into World a World Two . This shows what happened when the Americans landed on a place way before the Japanese expected them . The Americans took the Japanese by surprise and it showed in the results after the battle .

Bill the narrator was phenomenal . He brought the story to life. He made this audio sound like you were at the place . His voice is strong and clear . You get pulled into the story