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Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War Paperback – April 12, 2002
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Belongs with the best war memoirs ever written. --Los Angeles Times
When Manchester speaks of the awesome heroism and hideous suffering of the Marines he lived with and fought with, he is reverent before the mystery of individual courage and gallantry.--Baltimore Sun
Gripping…. It is impossible for an American to read this book without pride in what his country accomplished in those days of enormous challenge.--Christian Science Monitor --. --This text refers to the MP3 CD edition.
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Top Customer Reviews
Manchester writes with passion borne from desperation and experience of long times in the firing line. He waxes from the lyrical experiences of a fireside chat on the battle-line with a student of philosophy (himself?) regalling the troops with an exposition on the nature of time. One is left with the images of hard worn veterans from small American towns, experiencing the wonder of ideas for the first time on the eve of battle. Their far off, empty stares as the philosopher marine finishes his exposition in sheer silence is something that one can almost feel. That very same night they cut up a large Banzai charge on Guam --- one can cut the atmosphere of the book with a knife.
Manchester can then go on an describe his visceral uncomfortable feelings of being close to the Japanese today. Their inability to admit to former attrocities is something that Manchester admits, planted the seed of dislike deeply inside him. Try as he might he cannot shake it and we are at least amazed with his honesty. This contrasts with the cerebral, fair-minded Manchester we all know from his biographies.
I have read more than 200 narrative histories and memoirs of the Pacific War, British, American, Japanese, Indian and Chinese, Australian, Canadian ... and this is one of the best. Like all good books, it stays with you for a long time....
His marine outfit was made up of Ivy leaguers like himself and the book is a distillation of his exploits. He takes the reader through the island fighting on Guadalcanal, Tarawa, New Guinea, the Philipines, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. The scenes in which he describes the fighting are absolutely gripping, This is easily as good as any war novel I've ever read if only for the descriptions of the combat. His description of the apparition in the foxhole with him in the Philipines is some of the best writing I've ever read. True, I'm not a literature buff, but this man can really write. It's too bad that more people aren't aware of it today.
Before you read this book, you need to know that this book is not a month by month account of the authors' fighting in the Pacific. Rather, it appears to be an exorcism of his memories of entering boot camp, becoming a Marine, and then being shipped off to fight the Japs. The book switches from his narration of the past to his current (1978) trip back to the Pacific islands and then describes the comparison between the two. Initially, this writing style took me by surprise. But, once I understood how he was writing, the book became quite interesting as Manchester juxtaposes his past with the present.
Manchester also does not disguise his anger and dislike of the Nips. He tells it the way it is without modern day political correctness. His writing allows the reader to feel as the Marines were feeling back in 1944/45 while battling on those hot, god-forsaken islands.
My six-month-long stay on Guadalcanal was preceded by more than a year of reading every single thing I could get my hands on about the battle. I read every book I could find in the English language -- accounts from Brits, Kiwis, Aussies -- as well as a few translated from Japanese. I spent two weeks at the Marine Corps Historical Museum in D.C. going through my great uncle's unit's combat reports.
This book was by far the best I read about our Marines in the WWII Pacific Theatre. Manchester is a writer for the ages, a national treasure.
He didn't fight in the battle for the 'Canal -- his struggles came later. But he takes the reader to war like no other book because he takes us inside himself -- his fears, his hauntings and nightmares about what he saw and experienced firsthand. They are deeply personal and he makes them ours.
Manchester was/is a Marine; but God has made him a writer first and foremost. As a sample of this man's soaring prose, consider his tribute to those who fought for Guadalcanal:
"...[T]o me that struggle was more than a strategic victory. It was, and is, eloquent testimony to the fortitude of man. Men generally do what is expected of them; usually that is very little. On the 'Canal they were asked to do what was believed to be impossible, and the shining response of those Marines on the line is historic. I shall never forget them, nor should you.'
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
I've read a pile of WW2 Pacific Theater biographies. I especially love EB Sledge - but this is easily his equal. Amazing stuff.Published 15 days ago by Amazon Customer
Just read it. Anything by Manchester is a treasure. He could probably write about anything and make it riveting.Published 4 months ago by velodog revolver
Strong prose from a much published author, extinguishing some of his own demons. Insight as only someone who has been there can provide. Read morePublished 4 months ago by John A. Powell
This is a moving, honest, well written memoir of a Marine in the Pacific Theater of WW2. There are many, many good things about this book and only one small caution. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Fred Provencher
Melancholy on some memories and then very vivid others. A very descriptive account of battles from a prescriptive point of view.Published 5 months ago by Joe L. Beck