Wednesday, February 2, 2011

Pacific War Memoirs

I finally finished Hugh Ambrose's The Pacific.  The book is meant to parallel, or to serve as a companion, to the HBO mini-series, which it does.  The same characters are there:  Eugene Sledge, Sid Phillips, John Basilone, and to a much smaller extent than in the film, Bob Leckie.  This book introduces a couple of other characters that weren't in the series,Austin "Shifty" Shofner, and Vernon "Mike" Micheel.

If you're looking for an in depth analysis and history of the Pacific war, this book isn't for you.  The purpose of this book is, just as the film did, provide a certain perspective of the war through the eyes of these characters who lived it.  Here's a link to the book's website.

There are so many books on the war in the Pacific and yet each serves a purpose.  You have the overall histories, the analytical perspectives, some concentrate on single battles, some on certain divisions or regiments...yet each has its place.  I'm trying to learn more about the Pacific war but for now I'm really fascinated by the personal memoirs.  You'll remember me raving about how much I loved Eugene Sledge's books, With the Old Breed and China Marine.

Now I'm reading the new Sid Phillips's memoir, You'll Be Sor-ree!  I just love this one.  It's so different from Eugene Sledge's book, which was so detailed and introspective.  Phillips reads as if he's just talking to his grand kids.  It's wonderful.  I absolutely loved this passage in which Phillips describes his feelings upon leaving boot camp at Parris Island:

"A strange feeling frequently came over me that was to return repeatedly during the war.  It is very difficult to express in words.  It was a feeling of safety in the power of armed might.  I would get it often when marching in step in ranks as though I were a leg on an invincible centipede or some such idea.  I would feel secure because of the trained warriors surrounding me.  I would feel it in a large convoy or in a landing craft under full power headed for the beach.  There was danger all around, but also a sensation of safety in what you were a part of.  I imagine this sensation only would occur during wartime.  It as, of course, associated with deep national pride with an element of 'Look out, here comes Uncle. Sam.'"

I love that!

This book is going to be a quick read at some 250 pages.  The font is fairly widely spaced compared to The Pacific and will go quickly.  Too quickly, I'm afraid.

Add this one to your reading list!

1 comment:

edutcher said...

I notice you're reading mostly about the Marines.

Don't forget there were a lot of campaigns by the Army that don't get as much press, but were fought every bit as hard - New Guinea, the fall and liberation of the Philippines, and the Aleutians, as well as significant Army participation in those where the Marines get the bulk of the credit - the Marshalls, Okinawa, and the Solomons.