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With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa Paperback – May 1, 2007
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“In all the literature on the Second World War, there is not a more honest, realistic or moving memoir than Eugene Sledge’s. This is the real deal, the real war: unvarnished, brutal, without a shred of sentimentality or false patriotism, a profound primer on what it actually was like to be in that war. It is a classic that will outlive all the armchair generals’ safe accounts of—not the ‘good war’—but the worst war ever.”—Ken Burns
About the Author
Top Customer Reviews
Sledge, who is not a professional writer like the above gentleman but writes, in my opinion, equally as well. As such Sledge has written the quintessential experience of the Marine in the Pacific War. it is one of the best, eloquent, haunting, and poetic reads I have every come across, and more than most war memoirs it is very, very scary.
I think that one should be able to read through it quickly. I also liked it cause I ended up clawing through the jungle in the Horseshoe region on Peleliu and seeing nothing but gun positions, caves, and small human shaped holes in the coral landscape with Sake Bottles and used and unused cartridges in the holes.
I took this book to Peleliu in 1998. The Jungle has mostly come back and there are few tourists on the Island, and none off the very few trails. The caves are littered with broken Japanese Army helmets, some rusted badly, others with the green in good condition.
One can see nothing but jungle cleaved coral. After passing the usual "squid pots" (what the Japanese called the small coral caves and holes the dot the island), I was suddenly standing on an old oil drum, now rusted the same colour as the brown moss of the jungle. Then another drum.... rows of drums filled with coral. About at least 50 of them lined to a depth of three of four-deep covering the entrance to a coral cave.Read more ›
Okinawa, details the violence and brutality of these two battles so
realistically that it is a disturbing and haunting book. Peleliu was
supposed to last 3 to 4 days, but went on for 2 months and cost the
Marines 1,262 dead and 5,274 wounded. The statistics from Okinawa
contain a action, and 26,221 neuropsychiatric "non-battle
casualties." At Peleliu, Sledge "had tasted the bitterest
essence of war, the sight of helpless comrades being slaughtered, and
it filled me with disgust." Peleliu was a jagged coral island
which caused cuts and tears on contact with human flesh, and there was
a lot of such contact. "It was almost impossible to dig a
protective foxhole in the rock." Once inland one's senses were
overwhelmed by the sight and smell of corpses filled with maggots,
human excrement on top of coral everywhere, dysentery, rotting
American and Japanese rations, huge flies, knee deep mud, rainstorms,
tropical oven heat, snapping bullets, and exploding shells. More than
once Sledge saw a Marine slide down a ridge into rotting Japanese
corpses to find himself covered with maggots and vomiting from the
smell. Peleliu was an "assault into hell;" the landscape
"hell's own cesspool." After the landing, with Marines
suffering from heat prostration, even the water came from hell --it
came in old oil drums, and the oil residue caused the troops to retch
in the broiling sun. When Sledge sees his comrades cutting gold teeth
from the Japanese--some while they are still alive--he is disgusted
and sickened.Read more ›
After initially enlisting in the Marines in 1942, Sledge enrolled in Marine ROTC but like may others in his class, he felt the call of the war and after a semester he went to boot camp. It was here that he got his first taste of Marine training. By this time the Marines had plenty of combat veterans who had been rotated home to fill the ranks of instructors. The effect of having veterans train the newest can be measured by their initial survival in combat. The instructors prepared Sledge and his peers well with tough, realistic training - training that would keep them alive in the first days in combat. His state side training was followed up with more once he reached the Pacific and a healthy dose of iron discipline. Again, the hard training paid off for Sledge. Later in the war the Marines ran out of time for proper training and integration of new troops. The result was dead Marines, to new to know what to do. Training and discipline were the difference between life and death in the initial days in combat. Sledge received and absorbed his training and went home without a scratch.
Though Sledge does not specifically address it, I was struck by the closeness of the combat he faced. Peleiu was a only 12 square miles - 6 miles long by 2 miles wide.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Brings to life the terror our fathers and grandfathers went through during WWII. This is a book you absolutely must read.Published 1 day ago by JM
If you are into personal firsthand accounts of war, this is an exceptional read. Eugene B. Sledge makes no attempts to glorify World War II. His writing is wonderfully pleasant!Published 1 day ago by Amazon Customer
This is not your typical war narrative. The writing was excellent.Published 1 day ago by Jenifer R. Neal
Quickly, it becomes obvious that the writer, Sledge, has been there, done that. A brave and noble warrior, he does not embellish his role as a Marine in the Pacific during WWII. Read morePublished 2 days ago by Virgil D. Gosch
A very good read. It's like listening to a old friend telling you a story over a smoke and a drink.Published 3 days ago by Rebecca L. Cox
This book is great. I saw the movie that was made from the book and the movie followed the book pretty well. Read morePublished 5 days ago by Mark Bogardus
I join many others in recommending this book. I have read a number of books addressing WWII written from different perspectives and the VN war, but was one of the best. Read morePublished 5 days ago by Jesse Blanco
Amazing account of k/3/5. I have read this book twice and discovered more about these battles the second time around. Mr Sledge was a true hero.Published 6 days ago by Andy D