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The Ultimate Battle: Okinawa 1945--The Last Epic Struggle of World War II Hardcover – October 23, 2007


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Editorial Reviews

Review

"Bill Sloan's The Ultimate Battle is the Okinawa book I've been waiting for. You actually feel like you're with the GIs and Marines as they storm Japanese bastions, and on American ships as the kamikaze attacks are unleashed. A very harrowing, well written World War II classic." -- Douglas Brinkley, author of "The Great Deluge" and "The Boys of Pointe du Hoc"

Review

"Bill Sloan has a real feel for the human side of this horrific drama. He suggests there can never be such a battle again, and by the time you've finished reading, you will pray he's right. A powerful, moving book."-- Evan Thomas, author of Sea of Thunder: Four Commanders and the Last Great Naval Campaign, 1941-1945

"Bill Sloan's The Ultimate Battle is the Okinawa book I've been waiting for. You actually feel like you're with the GIs and Marines as they storm Japanese bastions, and on American ships as the kamikaze attacks are unleashed. A very harrowing, well written World War II classic."-- Douglas Brinkley, author of The Great Deluge and The Boys of Pointe du Hoc

"Memory of an epic battle that altered history has begun to fade. Yet, the fighting for Okinawa was so ferocious that it influenced America's decision to use the atomic bomb. If Japan would fight so furiously for an island outpost, what would an invasion of the mainland cost? Bill Sloan answers that question in this close-up, you-are-there account of the Pacific war's ultimate struggle. Battle reportage at its finest."-- Joseph E. Persico, author of Eleventh Month, Eleventh Day, Eleventh Hour: Armistice Day 1918

"Gripping. Authoritative. Masterfully told. I cannot praise this book highly enough."-- Alex Kershaw, author of The Bedford Boys and The Longest Winter

"The Ultimate Battle is a compelling, immensely evocative story of one of the largest, most fiercely fought battles in American history. Here is that gigantic struggle, the defining battle of the Pacific War, seen primarily through the experiences of the sailors, soldiers, and airmen who suffered through it. This is a terrific work."-- Donald L. Miller, author of Masters of the Air and D-Days in the Pacific

"Monumental.... The Ultimate Battle is the ultimate book about heroism, death, and sacrifice.... A definite 'must-read.'" -- WWII History

"Strikingly graphic and brutally honest, Sloan's picture of the struggle for Okinawa comes as close as any book has to conveying the campaign's horrors." -- Eric Ethier, America in WWII magazine

"Remarkable and stirring...Outstanding...Highly valuable and significant." -- Glen Sper, The Newark (NJ) Star-Ledger --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster; 1st Simon & Schuster Hardcover Ed edition (October 23, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0743292464
  • ISBN-13: 978-0743292467
  • Product Dimensions: 9.5 x 6.4 x 1.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (71 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #695,690 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey T. Munson on December 12, 2007
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
In keeping with the style of his previous books "Given Up For Dead" and "Brotherhood of Heroes", author Bill Sloan tells a gripping story of the last and bloodiest battle of the Pacific War. Loaded with personal accounts from survivors of the battle, this excellent book throws the reader into the front lines of the greatest amphibious assault of the war.

On April 1, 1945, American Army and Marine forces stormed the beaches on Okinawa. Accompanying the troops was a massive naval armada of over 1,500 ships of all types, from LSTs to fast carriers and battleships. The Americans were expecting massive resistance from the Japanese but, to their surprise, the landings were almost completely unopposed. Many felt that the Japanese had either abandoned the island, or that their force was so small as to prove not much of a threat. The Americans were wrong on both counts. After about 4 days of virtually no contact with the enemy, the Americans stumbled across one of the three highly-defended zones set up by the Japanese. For the next 2 1/2 months, the Americans and Japanese became engaged in an epic struggle that would cost the lives of thousands of men on both sides.

Sloan describes in vivid and horrifying detail how the battle unfolded. From the relentless banzai charges and artillery barrages to the dreaded kamikaze attacks on American ships, this book covers every aspect of the battle. Besides the thousands of Japanese and Americans who were killed in the fighting, Sloan also devotes a chapter to the plight of the Okinawan civilians.
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22 of 23 people found the following review helpful By D. Blankenship HALL OF FAMETOP 50 REVIEWER on June 24, 2008
Format: Hardcover
A person sort of hates to compare authors and their works, but you almost have to with this one. Bill Sloan, as far as writing ability, compares rather favorably with Stephen Ambrose. As has been pointed out, Ambrose died before he delved into the war in the Pacific, but Sloan seems to have taken up the torch rather well. It should also be noted here, that no one book can cover a battle of this magnitude. There are bound to be some units, some aspect of the battle that was either short changed, or, regrettably, left out completely. A good point was made by another reviewer here in mentioning the 77th Infantry Division. To be quite frank, that Division alone probably rates at least three volumes of this size. But, as I said, no book can cover it all. This 402 page book does do a pretty good job of giving the overall feeling of the battle, who participated, who did what and when.

Okinawa was the last major battle in the Pacific during World War II. In it, at least 115,000 soldiers, airmen and sailors were killed. In addition and estimated 150,000 civilians were either killed or committed suicide, in one of the most tragic episodes of the war. We probably never will know the exact number of human beings who lost their lives during this struggle. This of course does not even count the thousands that were left homeless. It is quite difficult for us to understand the hardship and suffering the soldiers, sailors and airmen went through during this battle. It was fought under the most trying condition imaginable. The author has done as good a job as any in conveying these points.

Bill Sloan has written a very readable account of this final battle, using many sources and many personal stories/narratives from individuals who took part.
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11 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Truthteller on November 7, 2007
Format: Hardcover
This is an excellent telling of the Battle of Okinawa. From the buildup of forces for the invasion (code-named "Operation Iceberg"), to "Love Day" (when the Japanese Imperial Army purposely allowed the invading troops to land unmolested), to the savage, unremitting assaults on Sugar Loaf, to the bitter end (after over 12,000 American and 100,000 Japanese soldiers had died), it is all here.

Several notable books on this battle were published on or around its 50th anniversary (e.g., Col. Yahara's "The Battle for Okinawa") in 1995. This book, however, may end up being the best of the lot as it masterfully weaves together the stories of the "grunts" and others who witnessed first-hand the bloodletting and suicidal attacks that characterized this campaign with overall strategies of both sides.

Highly recommended and must reading for anyone interested in World War II, especially the war in the Pacific.
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14 of 17 people found the following review helpful By James L. Stevens on August 7, 2009
Format: Paperback
The Ultimate Battle if an outstanding work. It sees the struggle for Okinawa through the eyes of the men who did the dirty job. This approach brings home to the reader the reality of war as a dirty, heartbreaking, nerve crashing business. It also makes the reader proud of our men who went and did the job despite the horrors it involved.

jim stevens
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Harlan B. Miller on April 3, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This is a useful collection of survivor's stories of this dreadful campaign. It gives one a fair corporal's view of the battle. But there is no comprehensible general's or colonel's view, and the sailor's view is quite narrow. The most glaring omission is of useful maps. There are three very general maps, but there are also dozens and dozens of towns, villages, roads, and heights mentioned in the text but absent from any of the maps. It is very difficult to follow some of the tactical and operational moves without maps.

The account of the action afloat is much worse. Sticking with the recollections of two or three sailors gives a very narrow view. We have attacks on two other radar picket destroyers, but no mention of the Laffey (DD 724), despite the inclusion of a photo of her and her absorption of seven kamikaze hits. The Eldorado (AGC 11) is identified as a cruiser. The author appears to believe that a flight deck/hangar deck fire could actually sink an Essex-class carrier, and that reversing course reverses port and starboard.

Despite these defects, the first-person narratives succeed in conveying the sheer horror of the fighting. Those who claim that the Hiroshima bombing was unnecessary should be required to read this.
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