The best books on the war in the Pacific 1941-1945

Daniel Hammel Author Of Two Flags Over Iwo Jima: Solving the Mystery of the U.S. Marine Corps' Proudest Moment
By Daniel Hammel

The Books I Picked & Why

Day of Infamy, 60th Anniversary: The Classic Account of the Bombing of Pearl Harbor

By Walter Lord

Day of Infamy, 60th Anniversary: The Classic Account of the Bombing of Pearl Harbor

Why this book?

Lord writes in the narrative history perspective of the attack on Pearl Harbor and interviewed hundreds of people who were present at the event. The book reads like you are in it, tiny details are present, from the light hearted night of entertaining of Admirals before the attack on December 6th to the unsuccessful two-man midget submarine attack. We hear the echoes of the past as they are unfolding in real time, minute by minute, hour by hour, bomb by bomb. An event that shook the world, from the people who were there on both sides of it.


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Guadalcanal Diary

By Richard Tregaskis

Guadalcanal Diary

Why this book?

Tregaskis, not a soldier, but a journalist on assignment, takes us into the world of the man on the ground, in and out of combat. The story of the first real blow against the Japanese Empire following the string of defeats prior. The diary reads just like you would expect - the day-by-day account of the monotony of ship life as the Marines sail closer to unknown shores, followed by tales of bravery and air raids while engaged in combat with the enemy. Tregaskis is an observer, but he takes us there, where few dare go.


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Helmet for My Pillow: From Parris Island to the Pacific

By Ross Leckie

Helmet for My Pillow: From Parris Island to the Pacific

Why this book?

Leckie enlisted in the Marine Corps following the attack on Pearl Harbor. His story is one of the best accounts of life on the ground in combat, from induction to his time on now famous islands, Guadalcanal, New Britain, and finally Peleliu. Leckie lets the reader in on the grinding, miserable combat of New Britain, the joyous affair of Peleliu, and the pet-names he has for the men around him. At the end of it all, Leckie finds himself in the hospital for the tenth time since he entered the Marine Corps, left wondering what it was all for.


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With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa

By E. B. Sledge

With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa

Why this book?

Sledge’s experience is not a tale of glory. Sledge is haunted by his time in combat by the things he has seen done, and has done himself. A volunteer, like many of his comrades, he did not wait to get drafted into the Marine Corps. It wasn’t until 36 years after the end of the war, no longer a young man that he was finally able to publish his account of the war. Sledge’s first taste of combat is on the killing field of Peleliu, a desolate and unhabitable place. Here he learns about leadership and loss. Captain Andrew Haldane, his company commander whom he idolizes is killed on Peleliu as are many of his comrades with almost 1/3 of the division becoming causalities in a month of fighting. Nothing of Peleliu though could have prepared him for the meat-grinder of Okinawa. Okinawa had a populace where Peleliu had not. The fighting never ceases during his time on Okinawa and it takes its toll. The division again suffers horribly at the hands of the Japanese, and by the time fighting is over The Old Breed have taken 150% casualties in the combined actions of Peleliu and Okinawa.


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Twilight of the Gods: War in the Western Pacific, 1944-1945

By Ian W. Toll

Twilight of the Gods: War in the Western Pacific, 1944-1945

Why this book?

The third and final book of the epic Pacific War Trilogy, Twilight of the Gods is the story of the crushing of the once venerable Japanese Empire. At just under 800 pages the book describes in the great detail the coming apocalypse for the Japanese war machine. While 1943 was pivotal with the war in the Pacific having essentially been won by the Allies, it was 1944 and 1945 where the real murder of empire happened. In these two years of horrendous fighting, hundreds of thousands died for what was clearly a lost cause. The Japanese tried one last time at the Battle of Leyte Gulf, but were massacred by the incredible might of the U.S. Navy and combined forces. Toll brings the reader into the little details of the war, and how they affected everything.


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