The Invasion and Conquest of Okinawa in World War II--An Oral History
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 Astor (The Voices of D-Day, 1994) presents a moving collection of memoirs of surviving American soldiers, marines, sailors, and airmen who were on the firing line at Okinawa. In 1945, American strategists saw Okinawa as the main staging area for the final assault on Japan. To take this island, US forces paid a terrible price that became a factor in the decision to end the most destructive war in history with the dropping of the atomic bomb: If this four-month battle was so costly, strategists reasoned, invading Japan would be far worse. Americans suffered 49,151 killed, wounded, or missing with over 117,000 Japanese casualties, plus an estimated 100,000 Okinawan civilians killed or wounded. The US fleet lost 36 ships sunk and 368 damaged by kamikaze attacks. Astor, himself a WW II veteran, brings home all the terror, the horrors, and the ugliness of high-adrenalin combat. In line with Tolstoy's belief that battles are won by the efforts of the ordinary soldier, Astor brings us the soldiers' own words: a first sergeant and former sportswriter many of whose men drowned off Guam before the Japanese could even fire at them; a destroyer's commander who saw an ensign die protecting others from a kamikaze attack. He also notes the valor and unselfish nobility of men under savage stress who depended on one another for their very lives, bonding them ever closer--a ``band of brothers'' whose seared memories and pride would never die if they survived. Each man's tale is different, yet has a common thread of life and death in the balance. Astor's account demonstrates that most American servicemen wanted simply to defend their country, get the dirty war over with, and soon return home. An excellent account of the way it was on the front lines in Okinawa 50 years ago: Grim and moving, it is a fitting tribute to all those who served so honorably. (photos, not seen)

Pub Date: April 30th, 1995
ISBN: 1-55611-425-7
Page count: 480pp
Publisher: Donald Fine
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Feb. 15th, 1995


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