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A Marine Rifleman's Journey from Guadalcanal to Peleliu

by Jim McEnery with Bill Sloan

Pub Date: June 5th, 2012
ISBN: 978-1-4516-5913-9
Publisher: Simon & Schuster

A personal account from the K/3/5 Marine company, made famous in the HBO series The Pacific.

McEnery tells his story in the first person, but military buffs will suspect that popular historian Sloan (Undefeated: American’s Heroic Fight for Bataan and Corregidor, 2012, etc.) transcribed and polished interviews with his 92-year-old subject. Few will object to the result. A poor Brooklyn youth during the Depression, McEnery joined the Marines in 1940. A squad leader two years later, he and his division sailed to the Pacific and Guadalcanal in August 1942 to begin the land campaign against the Japanese. Mostly under the age of 20, with only a rare World War I veteran, and outnumbered, they fought brilliantly. After a year of rest and training, McEnery fought again on New Britain and a few months later in the vicious conquest of Peleliu. Delivering the obligatory nod to political correctness, the author bears no grudge against today’s Japanese but maintains that the soldiers he faced behaved with despicable cruelty. In line with contemporary popular historians, he blames sadistic training and incompetent leadership for the suicidal banzai charges on Guadalcanal. When this failed, commanders adopted an equally fruitless tactic: building fortifications, staying put and fighting to the death. McEnery pays only passing attention to the big picture, emphasizing his personal combat experience, narrow escapes, miseries and amusements between battles, the fate of friends, and the officers he admired and disliked.

A thoroughly satisfying account of war in the South Pacific packed with fireworks, tragedy and horseplay.