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Given Up for Dead: America's Heroic Stand at Wake Island Hardcover


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 432 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam; First edition (September 30, 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553803026
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553803020
  • Product Dimensions: 9.2 x 6.2 x 1.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.6 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (50 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,105,764 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

"Uncommon courage was a common virtue": this was said of Marines on another island, Iwo Jima. Texas journalist Sloan's excellent research, interviewing and journalistic prose will have readers of this moving book saying it of Wake Island, too: this popular military history is the best account yet of the Battle for Wake Island in December 1941. An almost barren coral atoll in the Central Pacific, Wake was a link in American communications with the Far East and squarely in the middle of Japanese-held islands. So both sides targeted it in the coming war, and soon after Pearl Harbor the Japanese began steady air attacks on the atoll's garrison. That garrison included a minuscule Marine air arm, flying half-wrecked F4F Wildcats, a thin battalion of Marine infantry and artillery, and a large number of civilian construction workers overtaken by the war while building a base. Battered from the air, this motley group actually drove off the first Japanese attempt at a landing, and inflicted heavy casualties on a second and much stronger effort before surrendering. The Wake Islanders can truly be called "heroic," even if Marine Major Devereaux and Navy Commander Cunningham did not coordinate as well as they could have. The Japanese emerge with little credit for either their witless tactics or their harsh treatment of the prisoners, although a Dr. Ozeki saved the lives of several wounded Americans. Wake Island has nearly faded from memory; the survivors interviewed are fading from life; this book is direly needed on any WW II shelf.
Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From Booklist

This is the third recently published account about the capture of Wake Island in December 1941 (after Pacific Alamo by John Wukovits [2003] and Hell Wouldn't Stop by Chet Cunningham [2002]), and like its predecessors, the book avails itself of the handful of witnesses to the combat there. Sloan distinguishes himself with a seasoned journalistic approach, emphasizing the personal experience of young marines and civilian construction workers who defeated an initial Japanese attempt to land but succumbed to a second one. The possibility that Wake could have held out has generated conflicting memoirs and naval accounts, which Sloan draws on in his narrative as he recounts the fighting from the perspective of the foxhole. Collectively lauded as heroes at a grim time, when the war was going Japan's way, the marines are ably individualized by Sloan in ground-pounding dramatization of the gory action at every gun position. The last-stand courage of Wake's warriors continues to draw readers of military history. Gilbert Taylor
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Outstanding book, very well written, I couldn't put it down.
Badbob52
This was a great book, I highly recommend reading it and passing the book off to a friend.
Jimmy Morelli
It is one of those books that once you start reading it, you can't put it down.
Daniel Greenwood

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

43 of 43 people found the following review helpful By Robert Busko TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on December 10, 2003
Format: Hardcover
If you've elected to read Given Up for Dead: America's Heroic Stand at Wake Island then you're in for a treat. It has been a long time since anything like it has appeared on the shelves in American bookstores.
Within hours of the sneak attack on Pearl Harbor, the Japanese strike at Wake Island. Thinly defended by a few companies of Marines and a very small Marine Air Squadron VMF-211, Wake Island was in the process of being fortified. Beside the small military detachment, there was large numbers of civilian construction crews on the Island that were sent to Wake to build various bunkers, hospitals, and barracks. PanAm also has a facility on Wake to service it's clippers that stop periodically on there way to the orient and back again. It is this small population of Americans that must face the Japanese assault that has not met defeat yet.
Bill Sloan is a master storyteller. In Given Up for Dead he tells the story in a way that will stir your admiration for the defenders, both military and civilian. He uses standard sources but also mixes in information from the few survivors that are still alive. Primary sources, especially eye witness accounts, form the backbone of this book.
Ultimately the American Marines are forced to surrender, but not until they give the Japanese a preview of what's in store for them in the subsequent months. It was the Marines at Wake Island that stopped the Japanese for the first time. It was also the Marines of Wake Island that sank the first Japanese naval vessel of WWII.
This is a pivotal book both in the history of the Marine Corps and the history of WWII. If you're a history buff then you'll want this book on your own bookshelf.
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Bookreporter on October 11, 2003
Format: Hardcover
The "desert island" fantasy is a common enough parlor game in America --- imagining who you would want to be stranded with, what books or movies you would bring, and figuring out how you might survive if you were lost and alone on a coral beach out in the endless blue waters of the Pacific. What most of us would consider a fantasy was a stark reality for a few hundred Americans --- some Navy, some Marines, and some civilian contractors --- who were trapped on Wake Island in the days after the Japanese sneak attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941.
Wake Island was meant to be an advance base against possible Japanese aggression in the Pacific, but the attack on Pearl Harbor left the small Wake Island garrison isolated behind enemy lines. The island, a way station for Pan American's fleet of Pacific clippers, had a minimal number of defenders, a small squadron of aircraft, and not much else. The supply line back to Hawaii was cut; there could be no hope of food, fresh water, ammunition or reinforcements until the Navy, battered by the surprise attack, could put together a relief squadron out of spare parts.
No sooner had word of the attack on Pearl Harbor spread across the three islands at Wake than the Japanese struck, first with bombers and then with a naval task force bent on an amphibious assault of the island. The brave defenders managed to beat back the Japanese ships with the few remaining airplanes on the island and some well-timed artillery strikes, but a second wave of the Emperor's soldiers was on its way, racing against a rescue fleet dispatched from Hawaii.
To tell more about the valiant defense of Wake Island here in this review would spoil things, which I am constitutionally opposed to doing. Besides, there's no need to do that here.
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By David Roy on February 27, 2005
Format: Paperback
Everybody knows about Pearl Harbor, and the sneak attack by the Japanese that helped usher the Americans into World War II. On the other hand, not that many people know about Wake island, the heroic stand of less than 1000 U.S. Marines and the civilian contractors who were there to help build it up, which began very shortly after Pearl Harbor and ended two days before Christmas. With Given Up For Dead, Bill Sloan has done his part to rectify this lack of knowledge. With powerful prose and words from the men who served there (and even a few from the invaders), Sloan tells us the story of these men and what they went through. The book is riveting, relatively easy to read, and quite thorough.

Wake island is a sleepy little atoll out in the middle of the Pacific, but it is strategically located. It was originally supposed to be built up during the 1930s, but lack of funding hampered this, until the coming of Pan Am, who wished to use it as a base for transoceanic travel. The island is mostly coral, scrub and trees, and is pretty desolate. For these men, however, it would become a crucible, and it would also gain the American military its first victory over the Japanese, though it was short-lived. The final defeat is shown to be completely unnecessary, as only a few miscues by the commanders (both on the island itself and back in Hawaii) result in the premature ending of a battle that was actually going fairly well for the Americans.

Sloan has interviewed most of the survivors from this battle, and he references the books written by the two commanders who died in the 1980s. This gives a very vivid view of the battle, right on the ground watching as the 3-inch gun crews manage to blow up two Japanese destroyers who ventured too close to land.
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