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Hero of the Pacific: The Life of Marine Legend John Basilone Hardcover – January 1, 2010
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Hero of the Pacific tells the dramatic, compelling, and all-but-forgotten life story of a small-town boy who became one of World War II?s greatest and best-known heroes. His bravery on Guadalcanal and Iwo Jima earned him the Medal of Honor and Navy Cross, respectively. Once you read this powerful tale, you?ll never forget John Basilone.
- Profiles one of three main characters in HBO's The Pacific, the sequel scheduled for March 2010 to the incredibly popular 2001 mini-series Band of Brothers
- Sorts through the differing accounts of Basilone's life and exploits, including what he did on Iwo Jima and how he died
- The final book by James Brady, the Korean War veteran and well-known columnist and author of books that include Why Marines Fight and his memoir, The Coldest War, a Pulitzer Prize finalist
An incredible story masterfully told, Hero of the Pacific will appeal to anyone with an interest in World War II and military history as well as fans of HBO's The Pacific.
Amazon Exclusive: Q&A with Author James Brady’s Daughters
Photo of the late James Brady, courtesy of the author's family
The late James Brady commanded a Marine Corps rifle platoon during the Korean War and was awarded a Bronze Star for valor. For more than two decades, he wrote the "In Step With" column for Parade magazine. He authored eighteen books, among them several on the Marines, and was a New York Times bestselling author.
Read the Amazon-exclusive interview with Brady’s daughters, Susan Konig and Fiona Brady.
Why do you think your father chose to focus on John Basilone for this most recent book? What sets Basilone’s story apart from the thousands of other Marines who fought in WWII?
Our Dad understood first hand how the Marine Corps can shape a person’s character. In this book he explored the question, “can a single night define a man’s life?” John Basilone was an everyman from humble beginnings who found himself in the midst of extraordinary circumstances during World War II. His courageous actions earned him the Congressional Medal of Honor, and also—for a short but intense period—resulted in an uncommon degree of public attention and adulation. He wasn’t a poster boy by any means, but a rough and tumble character who became an American idol when the nation was sorely in need of heroes and daring deeds. Our Dad knew that the idea of a regular guy being called upon to do extraordinary things always makes a good story.
Since WWII, there’s been some controversy surrounding Basilone’s legacy as a war hero. How does the book deal with this?
Famous inaccuracies grew up around John Basilone’s legacy, even as he was fading from national memory, except among the Marines and in his hometown of Raritan, New Jersey. Our Dad was a seasoned writer and reporter with nearly seven decades of experience to call on as he tracked down sources who had known John Basilone—people he grew up with or fought along side. He investigated historical documentation, discovered errors, sorted out truth from hyperbole, and ultimately had to make his own determination about Basilone and what happened at Guadalcanal and on Iwo Jima.
Basilone is one of the soldiers profiled in HBO’s new series The Pacific. Why do you think Basilone was chosen as one of the main characters for the show?
John Basilone is a compelling figure, a tragic hero in some ways because of his ultimate fate. There were many young men of valor on the battlefields of the Pacific, but how many of them came home, were paraded around associating with Hollywood stars, and then chose to return to the islands of the Pacific to battle alongside their men?
If it weren’t true, it would make a great story. The fact that it really happened makes readers sit up and take notice. There is also the underlying recognition that our young men and women serving in the United States military right now face these kinds of challenges and defining moments on a daily basis.
Sadly, your father passed away just after completing the manuscript for this book. What do you think he would have thought about all of the attention Basilone is now receiving?
He would have been proud to know that a new generation is learning about a great American hero.
Top Customer Reviews
Now the tough part: The book needed a good editor to pull all of the author's fine work together. There is a lot of repetition, and the author jumped around too much (he was trying to put the good stuff up front, when he could have told the story better if he had presented it as it played out). An editor would have pointed all of this out, and if so, this would have been a truly outstanding book. As it is, the book has great moments, and then goes sliding off into a confusing jumble of images and interpretations that leaves the reader--even someone who knows a fair amount about military history--somewhat confused.
I understand the author passed away a year before this book was published, and that he was a professional writer. Either (1) he didn't want his work edited (many writers don't), or (2) he wasn't around to make sure the book was edited properly. Either way, that's the main problem with this book.
The editing and fact-checking are very sloppy. The biggest example of this lies in the book's description of which enlisted marine won the Medal of Honor first. On page 9, Brady correctly identifies Sgt Clyde Thomason of the 2nd Raider Battalion as the first enlisted marine to be awarded the Medal. However, on the dust jacket on the back of the book, it describes John Basilone by saying, "As the first enlisted man to be awarded the Medal of Honor in World War II..." How could such an obvious error occur, except for complete inattention to detail by the editor and fact-checker?
Brady spends a lot of time criticizing the previous works on Basilone, but that does not stop him from using their quotes constantly. He then explains how their statements were wrong, but never tells us what he found that is right! After reading this book, I am still not sure what exactly John Basilone did that fateful night on Guadalcanal. Maybe nobody knows for sure. I am also unsure of just how Basilone died on Iwo Jima even though Brady uses most of the information available. He just did not make things clear enough.
Also, Brady jumps around too much. Pages 1-76 narrates Basilone's arrival on Guadalcanal, the big fight, and how he left and got his orders to go home. Then, we have a few pages about his early life. But, then the author puts himself in the story to talk about his visit to John's hometown of Raritan, New Jersey, and all the people he talked to there while researching the book. It would been much easier to follow if he had written the book in chronological order.Read more ›
A few of the other reviews have accused Mr. Brady of shoddy writing in this book because of his critical tone of the two prior biographies helmed by Basilone's sister and nephew but, I found this to be a logical approach and not done with any intended spite. Gunny Basilone wasn't exactly a prolific writer, thus any Basilone biographer is heavily reliant upon the prior entries as well as other Basilone family members and acquaintances. Brady's biography wasn't flawless, but I feel that it does a good job at trying to separate the man and the myth of a long gone American hero, Manila John Basilone.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Well written and very factual. I am a historian and a retired veteran and found d this book about a real Hero , one of this first of WWII. You will enjoy this story.Published 4 months ago by Ronald E. Banks
It's a shame Sgt. Basilone didn't write many letters. This is a much better book than that one written by a nephew (in the first person - yikes!). Read morePublished 8 months ago by Reader Zelda
It was a good book, and I really enjoyed reading it. It's a recently published book that's up to date with the time and events in some parts throughout the book. Read morePublished 9 months ago by Bolo4Me
An outstanding read about a REAL American hero!! He was so selfless he volunteered to go back to the Pacific because he was worried about "his boys". Read morePublished 13 months ago by Joseph V. Metchson
another poorly written book not sure where the editors are these days. could have left half of it out mostly distracting from the storyPublished 19 months ago by oneoneone
It gets a bit draggy in spots, but you learn quite a bit about Manila John Basilone that you did not know before.Published 23 months ago by Dave 0194
Basilone was one of the greatest American war heroes of all time - not just WWII. As such he deserves better than Brady's treatment. Read morePublished 24 months ago by johnnyv