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Pacific Alamo: The Battle for Wake Island Paperback – Bargain Price, June 30, 2004


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--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 308 pages
  • Publisher: New American Library Trade (June 30, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0451212053
  • ASIN: B000BTH4QS
  • Product Dimensions: 8.8 x 5.9 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (30 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,983,541 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

John Wukovits is a military expert and an authority on U.S. history in the Pacific Theater of World War II. He is the author of Pacific Alamo: The Battle for Wake Island, as well as several military biographies and many articles for such publications as WWII History, Naval History, World War II, The Journal of Military History, The Naval War College Review, and Air Power History.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Customer Reviews

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I highly recommend this fine work of military history.
Jeffrey T. Munson
It very successfully weaves their personal stories together with overview descriptions of the battle and analysis of how the battle was proceeding.
Dianne Roberts
This nonfiction World War II tragedy is one of the most interesting and well documented stories I've ever read.
Chris Gregory

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

44 of 46 people found the following review helpful By Brian D. Rubendall HALL OF FAME on July 7, 2003
Format: Hardcover
"Those guys are legendary in the Navy and Marines for what they did, and whenever one is around you pay him the highest respect." - a fellow Marine describes a Wake Island defender.
Author John Wukovits has selected the perfect title for his new book, "Pacific Alamo." Like the famous stand of Colonel Travis and Jim Bowie that helped win Texan independence, the battle of Wake Island in December 1941 was a hopeless cause that turned into a tactical victory as the gallant and vastly outnumbered defenders managed to buy enough time for their comrades-in-arms to organize for eventual victory. In the process, the defenders of Wake gave America a much-needed rallying cry as it regrouped from the initial disaster at Pearl Harbor.
Wukovits's outstanding military history is a fitting tribute to the military and civilian personnel who fought and died on Wake Island in the dark days immediately following the Japanese attack on Hawaii. The author sets the stage by introducing key figures who fought there and describing the political situation that led to the Japanese first strike. The accounts of the battle itself are particularly well rendered, mostly told through the recollections of the defenders themselves. The accounts several Japanese soldiers are also included, helping to provide balance to the battle descriptions.
Equally important, Wukovits doesn't end the book with the American surrender, but instead goes on to describe the experiences of the survivors in Japanese captivity. The description of their three-plus year ordeal of beatings, starvation and appalling living conditions are as harrowing as the accounts of the battle. In the final chapter, Wukovits describes the fates of the survivors of the battle after the war.
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16 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Dianne Roberts on December 13, 2005
Format: Hardcover
I definitely like this type of military history. It touches a chord with you by more or less tracking a handful of representative marines and civilians throughout their entire experience in WWII, with the siege and eventual fall of Wake being the central act of the book. It very successfully weaves their personal stories together with overview descriptions of the battle and analysis of how the battle was proceeding.

The book starts with introducing its cast of characters. Many are small town or rural guys growing up in the Depression. For the most part they find themselves signing up in the Marines or joining a construction company that works on foreign military bases to get a job rather than join the ranks of the unemployed.

Life on Wake before the start of the war wasn't so bad apparently. Getting there involved a great time for a romp during the stopover in Hawaii, an exotic paradise that was also usually the first place the guys had seen beyond their hometown. Construction work on the island was performed both by the workers and the marines. They worked long hours and they were detached from their families, but there wasn't much else to do on Wake (a spit of three sand islands that barely jut out from the ocean) but work. Food was good, as was the medical care, and a camaraderie developed even before the start of the war.

Pearl Harbor of course changes everything on the island. One of the amazing things however is just how little those on Wake knew of the extent of the disaster to the U.S. Navy there. Throughout the entire siege they expected to see the Navy steam in over the horizon and summarily dispatch the Japanese. They wouldn't learn about how bad Pearl Harbor really was for three more years.
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17 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Bruce L. Hansen on July 28, 2003
Format: Hardcover
An outstanding book on what has become a not so well known battle at the beginning of WWII. The author did a great job of research in bringing this book to life.All of the men who fought and died on those 3 islands and the ones who lived we owe a never ending debt of gratitude.What they endured during their capitivity and how each man delt with the punishment and cruel conditions makes this book a must read for anyone interested in history,especially World War II buffs.Great book!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Jason M. Fedota on November 2, 2005
Format: Paperback
Pacific Alamo recounts the historic battle at Wake Island where a small battalion of Marines, civilian contractors and a two-plane air force repelled a small Japanese armada and delayed Japanese attacks on other key Pacific targets. The story traces the legend from the initial construction and staffing of the Wake outpost to the battles with the Japanese to the surrender and imprisonment and ultimate release of the Wake soldiers.

For those like me who don't know the tale here are the basics; 500 serviceman and some volunteer civilian workers manning only a few gun emplacements and a two-plane air force sink two ships and one submarine, down two planes and kill 340 enemy troops providing much needed re-assurance to a cautious nation suffering after the defeat at Pearl Harbor. Fifteen days later the second wave of Japanese attacks including ground forces overwhelm the Wake defenders, which begins a three and a half year imprisonment in brutal Japanese prison camps.

Pacific Alamo does a good job of incorporating tales of valor amongst the gritty details of preparing and fighting the battle. Like the story of how Major Devereaux, knowingly facing an overwhelming force, allowed the enemy to draw in frighteningly close before firing a shell to ensure the effectiveness of his small battery of guns. Or, stories like that of Capt. Elrod who fought as an aviator until there were no more planes to fly and then took up a machine gun and died protecting a gun emplacement during the Japanese land invasion. These tales, captured in the photograph of time that included Pearl Harbor, were all the more dramatic as serious doubts of the Navy's ability to protect the West Coast were infiltrating the Country.
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