MUNDA TRAIL: The New Georgia Campaign by Eric Hammel

MUNDA TRAIL: The New Georgia Campaign

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Having secured Guadalcanal, American forces in mid-1943 moved along the Solomon archipelago against New Georgia. The prize in this part of the pivotal island chain, which encompassed some of the bloodiest battlegrounds in WW II's southern Pacific theater, was the Japanese airfield at Munda Point. Hammel, author of a fine trilogy on Guadalcanal and other well-received works of military history, offers an unsparing account of the arduous month-long campaign in which an untested National Guard division, a marine raider battalion, and their support units eventually prevailed over about 14,000 stubborn defenders. As Hammel makes clear, however, the victory exacted a high toll. To take the air base, US troops had to fight their way through mountainous jungle terrain. Faced with a hostile environment as well as a determined enemy, many cracked. Indeed, it was in New Georgia's rain forests that the phenomenon of war neurosis (better known as "combat fatigue") was first defined and diagnosed. Once blooded, American soldiers and marines conducted themselves well in clashes with an entrenched foe who seldom retreated and never surrendered. Within a week of the drive's end, for example, Private Rodger Young (whose exploits are celebrated in a popular infantry ballad) won a posthumous award of the Congressional Medal of Honor. Hammel leaves little doubt, though, that firepower was as responsible as individual valor for the defeat of Japanese forces on New Georgia. In addition to ample air and artillery support, plus naval gunfire, American troops had tanks--and, for the first time, flame throwers that proved lethal against pillboxes. With his customary thoroughness, Hammel provides a vivid record, rich in tactical as well as strategic detail, of a hard-fought but largely unsung conquest.

ISBN: 517-56972-8
Publisher: Crown
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