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on July 8, 2009
American Commando
By John Wukovitz
The "Big Yankee" Evans Fordyce Carlson lives again,
he converts a battalion of marines volunteers to Marine
Raiders, by training, equipping and indoctrinating them
with the philosophy of Nicaraguan jungle fighting and
the Japanese terrorizing Chinese 8th Route Army.
Follow Carlson from a high school dropout, enlisting
in the Army, the Marines, a guerrilla fighter in Nicaragua,
to President Franklin Delano Roosevelt's personal
intelligence officer in China. A predictor of the Jap-
anese war he resigns his commission to warn the nation.
Comes the war, finding a crippled navy and Japan
occupying twenty million square miles of the Pacific.
FDR demands commandos and a reluctant Marine
Corps succumbs. The Marine Raiders are born,
the first special force in the United States military.
The 2nd Raiders led by Carlson and Jimmy Roosevelt
are trained to a well honed killing machine. The infantry
squad is reorganizes into massive fire power by three
fire groups each equipped with an M1 rifle a Browning
automatic rifle and a Thompson sub machine gun,
eventually adapted by the entire Marine Corps. They
participated in the defense of Midway; a raid by sub-
marines to Makin Island, where the Raiders can not
leave the island as their rubber boats are toppled
by the raging surf. Carlson is confronted with 120
men ashore, the wounded, 20 armed raiders all other
arms lost in the surf and the Presidents son on the
island. Spearheading a failed airfield site on Guadal-
canal2nd Raiders are ordered to plunge into the back-
waters of the Island. They decimated an enemy
force of superior size. After thirty days in a jungle
hell they emerge victorious from behind enemy lines
having killed 488 Japanese and losing 16 killed in
action. Not the darling of the Marine Corps, Carlson
looses his command, he die at 51 following wars end.
The Raiders participated in every assault in the Solo-
mon Islands as Raiders and as 4th Marines and indi-
viduals in all island hopping events in the Pacific. The
Raiders were disbanded in February 1944 after two
years of existence. They were the forerunner of the
Special Forces now found in every branch of the U.
S. military.

I can verify the accuracy of this book as I served as
a 2nd Marine Raider for the duration of the battalion
and of the 266 who made the original landing was one
of the 57 who completed the long patrol. This book is
incredible well documented. Many surviving Raiders
were interviewed and their 65year old memories stim-
ulated. the actions of dead raiders was culled from
numerous sources. Perhaps this is the best books
of many about the Raiders.

Ervin Kaplan MD
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on June 16, 2009
"American Commando" delivers what it promises: a thorough telling of the story of Carlson's Raiders. In fact, it delivers more than I expected, with a complete narrative starting prior to the inception of the Raiders, their training, then with their first mission to Makin Island, and through their extraordinary ordeal on Guadalcanal. For one who had only the Hollywood movie "Gung Ho" to go by, this book was truly an eye-opener; the film has a long way to go to match the reality. The story is obviously expertly researched and has a good collection of photos.
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on September 12, 2009
This book is extremely well written and thorough. It covers Evan Carlson's life, the genesis, birth and history of Carlson's Raiders including their two most famous actions: The Makin Raid and the Long Patrol. It details Carlson's history with the Chinese Communists studying their tactics against the Japanese and his long, close relationship with President Roosevelt as well as the critical reception his unorthodox methods received from many of his contemporaries in the Marine Corps.
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VINE VOICEon September 14, 2009
I have read a lot of military books and this one is just outstanding. The author has done a remarkable job documenting a group of WW II Marines who were the forerunner of todays popular Spec Ops. Only when you read about their leader, Evans Carlson, and his commitment and leadership style in spite of directions to the contrary, it is one remarkable story. And it isnt just a story, it is a true story of some remarkable men who laid it all on the line for this country and then some. And I learned the origin of the Marine phrase line Gung Ho; and I learned where Marine organization at the squad level into Fire Teams came from ... and did the maverick Carlson get credit, you'll learn after his group nearly single handedly saved the airstrip on Guadalcanal, he was drummed from the Corps in a wave of politics. A unique man, a unique group of men and an unbelievable story of real leadership and human triumph and real war.
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on May 12, 2010
John Wukovits has done an outstanding job in bringing the story of the 2nd Raider Battalion to his readers. The book is very well researched and contains a fantastic collection of photos, both of the Makin Island Raid and of the Long Patrol on Guadalcanal.

It is not a biography of Evans Carlson. The reader does not learn that Carlson's wife's name was Peggy until page 270. This is more the story of the unit than of the man. But, this high school dropout who lied about his age and joined the army at 16 completely dominates the pages with his will and his almost unbelieveable qualities of personal leadership.

The book is well balanced, neither idolizing Carlson, nor cutting him down. It objectively reports his failures as well as his successes. The reader does come away with the impression that Carlson was a truly great American who did his duty as he saw it, loved the men who served in his battalion, but who did have flaws.

"American Commando" clearly addresses the controversy of the nine raiders who did not get off Makin Island and were later captured and executed by the Japanese. Wukovits cites Raiders McCullough and Quirk to solve the mystery as to how the nine men never got to the waiting submarines.

I recommend that "American Commando" be read first and then followed by reading Tripp Wiles 2007 book, "Forgotten Raiders of 42," which focuses strictly on what happened to the nine men who were left behind.
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on December 18, 2009
I found this book to be very informative about the origin of the Raiders. I have always heard that they were one tough S.O.B.'s when I was growing up, and they may have been part of the reason I later joined the Corps. I worked around present day "Raiders" some, now called "Force Recon" and if Recon Marines are anything at all like the Raiders were, then all of you Seals, Green Berets, etc... can kiss old "Chesty's" a**! (Wherever he is).
All in all, A good read by an author who does some really good research and doesn't "sugar-coat" some of the things that may have tarnished Carlson's image just a tad. Noticed that I said, "may have". Carlson had been targeted by alot of Marine officers with many unkind rumors, so I am giving him the benefit of the doubt, and I'm pretty sure if you read this book, you'll be siding with him also.
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on January 2, 2012
Great book for Marines, former Marines and history buffs! I bought this book for my Kindle and I had a hard time putting it down! Evans Carlson Learned his tactics in Nicaragua and in China training his men the Chinese word... Gung Ho. Gung to work... Ho in harmony. Just goes to show that the Marines were the first special forces unit to be formed in the United States. During Iraq and Afghanistan the Marines took the lead in unconventional warfare. Semper Fi!
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on August 9, 2009
A very good book on the war in pacific and the life of col. Evans Carlson and his Marine raiders, good photo section, good narrative of battles and tactics used by the Raiders, every Military History enthusiast must have this book. First Sergeant MARCOS PINTO DE OLIVEIRA - BRAZILIAN ARMY - BRAZIL - COMBAT ENGINEERS.
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on July 10, 2009
Lt Col Carlson was so far ahead of his peers in the stogy Marine Corps it is hard to imagine. From my own experience in the Army and reading about all American wars, politics still rules the day...Anyone who thinks "out of the box" even when it saves American Soldiers lives is not appreciated by the "Top Brass".
Lt Col Carlson is "every fighting mans dream leader"....not a boss, he LED BY EXAMPLE!!! Among others like General Frederick who trained and led the FSSF (First Special Service Force in Italy). Japanese-American soldiers also proved themselves in Italy to be another of the Best soldiers.

WW-II had so many heroes but few had the "out of box thinking of Lt Col Frederick and Lt Col Carlson..both are must read books. There is much to learn and REMEMBER from our heroes from WW-II both books mentioned above are MUST READ for a serious History buff.
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on July 5, 2011
This book is very engaging and appropriate for a general audience; it contains many first-hand accounts and primary source information, and does not get bogged down in minutia or technical jargon. At times you will be on the edge of your seat, wondering how the mission unfolds....better than any fictional work could emulate. The author discusses the controversy surrounding Carlson and provides various perspectives for the reader to consider. It's unfortunate that petty politics and jealousy among some of his peers have served to paint a false picture of Carlson and to some degree unjustly impacted his career and aspirations for the Raider battalion/special ops---in the end, achieving results is what matters.
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