With the Old Breed

By E.B. Sledge,

Book cover of With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa

Book description

The inspiration behind the HBO series THE PACIFIC

This was a brutish, primitive hatred, as characteristic of the horror of war in the Pacific as the palm trees and the islands...

Landing on the beach at Peleliu in 1944 as a twenty-year-old new recruit to the US Marines, Eugene Sledge…

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Why read it?

6 authors picked With the Old Breed as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

A question I’m often asked is if I’m related to Eugene Bondurant Sledge, whose classic work from World War II became the basis for the HBO miniseries, The Pacific. Though I don’t know, when reading Sledge’s work, I found the way he described the horrors of combat in manners that pricked at the edges of my own war experience. (“His intestines were strung out among the branches like garland decorations on a Christmas tree.”) Sledge has been one of the few who explains the moral injury soldiers face on the battlefield long before the term became common in the…

From Benjamin's list on war that leave you shattered.

This unvarnished look at battle allows the reader to identify with one person and see the war through an individualized lens. Slowly throughout the battle, the reader experiences the war with Sledge as he comprehends the futility and brutality of war. The invasion of Peleliu has always been controversial, and the slow realization by historians that it was not necessary matches Sledge’s own growing antipathy to the slaughter on both sides. The carnage at Peleliu was surpassed by the battle for Okinawa, although the military necessity for the latter battle is rarely questioned. Nevertheless, the body counts were horrific in…

My dad fought on Okinawa, receiving a citation for his participation in the taking of Shuri Ridge. I never knew my dad as a Marine. I asked him once, when I was a boy, to tell me about his service, but he refused. I asked him again, during the final year of his life, and he again refused. Unfortunately, what he saw, what he endured, he took with him.

Eugene Sledge, in this memoir of his service on Peleliu and Okinawa, told me everything my dad withheld from me. This incredible account is hailed as the best World War II…

Obviously one of the great classics about the Marine Corps in combat. Brutal and honest. A must-read by all Marines.

From Johnnie's list on war and the Marines.

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,…

From Daniel's list on the war in the Pacific 1941-1945.

An unvarnished memoir of war in the Pacific that inspires and horrifies. The deeply personal horrors witnessed and exacted by young men on both sides makes it almost a character study of the battlefield. A compulsory read for anyone who wants to understand true sacrifice in uniform far beyond the headlines of the day.

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