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Brotherhood of Heroes: The Marines at Peleliu, 1944 -- The Bloodiest Battle of the Pacific War Hardcover – May 3, 2005

4.7 out of 5 stars 84 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The battle of Peleliu, though certainly not the bloodiest of the Pacific war, was a ghastly ordeal. The rugged hills of the tiny coral island were honeycombed with caves and bunkers whose determined Japanese defenders had to be pried from every nook and cranny at the cost of nearly 10,000 American casualties. Sloan, author of Given Up for Dead: America's Heroic Stand at Wake Island, delivers an engrossing grunt's-eye-view of the fighting, structured around personal reminiscences by the Marines who bore the brunt of it. By day, they inched forward with tanks, machine guns, grenades and flame-throwers; by night, they grappled in their foxholes with knife-wielding enemy infiltrators. The author repeatedly salutes the Marines' bravery but allows the horror of war-the loss of friends, the stench of the dead, the torment of thirst and sleep deprivation-to make itself felt: "I had resigned from the human race... I just wanted to kill," recalls one soldier. Sloan maintains enough perspective that the shape of the battle isn't lost amid the action, and he critiques American commanders' conduct of the campaign, which many historians consider a tragic waste of lives on an island that should have been bypassed. His regrettably one-sided account says little about the Japanese experience, and his focus on slogging foot soldiers somewhat distorts the character of the American effort, which relied on massive artillery and airstrikes. Still, he tells a gripping story, full of excitement and pathos, about one of the more hellish struggles of the Second World War. Photos. Agent, Roger Labrie.
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

Peleliu is one of the Palau Islands, southeast of the Philippines. In World War II, it was a Japanese base on the road to MacArthur's "return." The island was unsuitable for offensive purposes but was heavily garrisoned and fortified. When the First Marine Division went ashore, its first wave was actually outnumbered by the Japanese, who, instead of making banzai charges, sat in caves, tunnels, and holes and fought until they were killed. In the process, marine casualties ran into five figures and left enough defenders to give the army a hefty mopping-up job. Sloan, author of the excellent Given Up for Dead (2003), about Wake Island, focuses on Company K, Third Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment, and draws heavily on interviews with its surviving members. He also casts his net widely enough to offer a detailed, gripping panorama of one of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific War, which may well have been unnecessary. Roland Green
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st edition (May 3, 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743260090
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743260091
  • Product Dimensions: 6.5 x 1.3 x 9.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (84 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #464,888 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Peleliu was a bitch. About the only good think you can say regarding Peleliu is that it tought some valuable lessons to the Marines. These were to be well used in subsequent campaigns.

The intelligence about Peleliu was bad, the overall stragegy was arguable, the whole thing was screwed up. Originally it was thought that it was necessary to protect MacArthur's flank as he took the Philippines. Subsequently there was thought that this wasn't necessary, but Nimitz believed that Peleliu would be a easy campaign and useful as an airbase. He was wrong.

The battle for Peleliu was supposed to last for only about 72 hours as the few hundred or maybe a couple of thousand Japanese were defeated. Instead 10,500 Japanese fought very, very well for thirty days of continuous fight-to-the-last-man combat. It was one of the few islands where the Marines faced Japanese tanks.

This book follows (mostly) K Company, Third Battalion, Fifth Regiment - K/3/5. K Company was in the forefront of the invasion with 235 men. At the end of the battle 85 answered roll call. This is their story, a story of an incredible brotherhood.

Great Reading About a Tragic Battle.
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Format: Hardcover
Brotherhood of Heroes by Bill Sloan is the story of the First Marine Division's battle to defeat the Japanese on the island of Peleliu. Fighting under conditions that can only be described as horrific, the Marines fought from the minute they hit the beaches, and kept on fighting until they were pulled off the line some thirty days later. During this time the division lost 6,526 men, 1,252 killed in action, and 5,274 wounded in action. This "equated to more than two casualties for each of the island's 3,200 acres." Although the early fighting was done on the beaches, the majority of the battles took place in the very mountainous region of Peleliu where the Japanese had built a series of interconnecting tunnels. The fighting was intense and very costly for both sides. However, as a result of the courage of these heroes the Marines were able to carry the day. I have read a number of books on different battles occurring in both the ETO, and the PTO and in my opinion Peleliu ranks among the worse. With the book and Given Up For Dead, Bill Sloan has established himself as one of the premier WWII historians. This is a must read for all.
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Format: Hardcover
When veterans of World War II, like those who fought in the ferocious, island-hopping campaigns in the Pacific, returned home at war's end, their families and friends were given a piece of advice: Don't ask about their experiences. As a result, many family members went for years with only bits of information about what their sons, brothers or fathers did from 1941 to 1945 in the service of their country. Much of that changed in the 1990s when America observed the 50th anniversary of the war that was the 20th century's pivotal event. With that observance also came the realization that the men and women who served during that time were nearing the end of their lives. Important stories of heroism and bravery were in danger of being lost. Bill Sloan, first with Given Up for Dead, the inspiring story of the defense of Wake Island early in the Pacific war, and now with Brotherhood of Heroes, is helping to preserve the heritage of courage and bravery of those who fought in World War II. Brotherhood of Heroes tells of the invasion by the First Marine Division of a hellhole of an island called Peleliu, east of the Philippines. Specifically, it zeros in on the men of K Company, Third Battalion, Fifth Marine Regiment and their accomplishments despite the efforts of a determined enemy. Battles like Peleliu were fought by armies, divisions, battalions and companies. But in reality they were fought by men who were scared, angry, and tired but who were indeed members of a brotherhood of heroes. The book was criticized in an earlier customer review because it reflects only on American courage and determination. There's an obvious reason for that. Only about 30 of the approximately 11,000 Japanese defenders who fought with suicidal bravery on Peleliu survived the battle. Locating and then interviewing any of those 30 men who were still living some 60 years later would have been an impossible task.
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Format: Hardcover
In late 1944 the Marines invaded a small island within an archipelago that had been "owned" by Japan since the end of World War 1, the Japanese having been ceded the territory by the Germans as part of the WWI Armistice (possession, in this case, being 100% of ownership). The island was fortified by the Japanese as part of one of several concentric fortification rings rippling out from the home islands.

The strategic picture by 1944 involved a Japan being pressed steadily back in every theater of operation in which they operated, and particularly in the vastness of the Pacific. The Americans, and MacArthur particularly, were eager to re-take the Phillipines and a number of islands, including Pelileu, were deemed to stand in the way. The American policy of leaving certain Japanese island to whither on the vine was in place at this point, but for a number of reasons - none of which seem appropriate in retrospect - the decision was made to invade Pelilieu, and the task was given the to the First Marine Division. Known as the "Old Breed," the base cadre of the First Marine Division were a significant portion the long term professional soldiers that made up the United States' pre WWII military.

In writing this history, Sloan had the benefit of being able to speak to actual participants in the battle, and he very ably maintains a balance of first hand accounts with the progression at a high tactical level of the campaign. Individual and individual's battles are drawn sharply and without any real bombast. He is able to convey some of the most graphic aspects of men fighting men with expertise, and time and again the challenges faced by the Marines were astonishing, more so given that he is like as not to include their various failures and deaths as well as the successes.
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