WINNER OF THE GILDER LEHRMAN PRIZE FOR MILITARY HISTORY
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 readers 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 three volumes, a compellingly written and boldly revisionist account of a war that reshaped the American military and the globe and continues to resonate today.
INCLUDES MAPS AND PHOTOS
With this excellent entry, military historian McManus (Deadly Sky) begins a two-volume chronicling of the history of the U.S. Army's activities in the Pacific theater during WWII. The first section focuses on Pearl Harbor and the disastrous American defeat in the Philippines, with a particular emphasis on the plight of American POWs enduring unsanitary conditions and abuse at the hands of their Japanese captors. The second part looks at the key battles of the American counterattack in the Pacific, including Buna, Guadalcanal, and Makin. Extensive research drawing on government archives and academic and private collections has yielded diverse and extensive sources, allowing the author to seamlessly shift the reader's point of view from high command to the frontline view of soldiers in battle. McManus doesn't shy away from noting the flaws of the major players, such as Gen. Douglas MacArthur, who deviated from the long-accepted war plan for the defense of the Philippines and kept his family with him throughout the war in contradiction to army policy. For all its length and its detailed scholarly research, this history is imminently readable. Both the general reader and the military history expert will find it informative and enjoyable.