10 books like Twilight of the Gods

By Ian W. Toll,

Here are 10 books that authors have personally recommended if you like Twilight of the Gods. Shepherd is a community of 7,000+ authors sharing their favorite books with the world.

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With the Old Breed

By E.B. Sledge,

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

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 Iraq and Afghan Wars. His novel impacted me so deeply, I quote him in my book.

With the Old Breed

By E.B. Sledge,

Why should I read it?

6 authors picked With the Old Breed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

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 can only try desperately to survive. At Peleliu and Okinawa - two of the fiercest and filthiest Pacific battles of WWII - he witnesses the dehumanising brutality displayed by both sides and the animal hatred that each soldier has for his enemy.

During temporary lapses in the fighting, conditions on…


Day of Infamy

By Walter Lord,

Book cover of Day of Infamy: The Classic Account of the Bombing of Pearl Harbor

I got this book as a teenager. As a WWII history buff, I read it cover to cover so many times that the cover wore off. This is a complete account of the attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, on December 7, 1941. From the workers dipping soup with their oily hands to eat on breaks while trying to free men from the capsized USS Oklahoma to the use of coke bottles to store donor blood, it is a gritty account of the bravery of the U.S. forces caught by surprise by the attack. While newer books on Pearl Harbor have been published, this one is still my favorite.

Day of Infamy

By Walter Lord,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Day of Infamy as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

A special 60th anniversary edition of the bestselling re-creation of the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor, by the author of A Night to Remember.

Sunday, December 7, 1941, was, as President Roosevelt said, "a date which will live in infamy." Day of Infamy is a fascinating account of that unforgettable day's events. In brilliant detail Walter Lord traces the human drama of the great attack: the spies behind it; the Japanese pilots; the crews on the stricken warships; the men at the airfields and the bases; the Japanese pilot who captured an island single-handedly when he could not get back…


Guadalcanal Diary

By Richard Tregaskis,

Book cover of Guadalcanal Diary

Written by a war correspondent who landed on Guadalcanal with the Marines, this book is another must-read for history buffs and every Marine. It is an accurate story of this critical and now legendary battle. 

Guadalcanal Diary

By Richard Tregaskis,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Guadalcanal Diary as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This celebrated classic gives a soldier's-eye-view of the Guadalcanal battles--crucial to World War II, the war that continues to fascinate us all, and to military history in general. Unlike some of those on Guadalcanal in the fall of 1942, Richard Tregaskis volunteered to be there. An on-location news correspondent (at the time, one of only two on Guadalcanal), he lived alongside the soldiers: sleeping on the ground--only to be awoken by air raids--eating the sometimes meager rations, and braving some of the most dangerous battlefields of World War II. He more than once narrowly escaped the enemy's fire, and so…


Helmet for My Pillow

By Ross Leckie,

Book cover of Helmet for My Pillow: From Parris Island to the Pacific

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.

Helmet for My Pillow

By Ross Leckie,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Helmet for My Pillow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The inspiration behind the HBO series THE PACIFIC

Here is one of the most riveting first-person accounts to ever come out of World War 2. Robert Leckie was 21 when he enlisted in the US Marine Corps in January 1942. In Helmet for My Pillow we follow his journey, from boot camp on Parris Island, South Carolina, all the way to the raging battles in the Pacific, where some of the war's fiercest fighting took place. Recounting his service with the 1st Marine Division and the brutal action on Guadalcanal, New Britain and Peleliu, Leckie spares no detail of the…


Implacable Foes

By Marc Gallicchio, Waldo Heinrichs,

Book cover of Implacable Foes: War in the Pacific, 1944-1945

This is simply one of the finest books to be written on the final critical two years of the Pacific War, with extensive detail on the Japanese side of the conflict and plenty of new insights into the better-known American story. It is a big book, but this was a large conflict both in terms of space, time, and the resources deployed. It was also chiefly a story of amphibious naval warfare, an original and significant development in modern warfare that too often gets understated. By the end of the conflict, the American armed forces had created the shape that they were to employ for the next half-century in projecting power overseas.

Implacable Foes

By Marc Gallicchio, Waldo Heinrichs,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Implacable Foes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

May 8, 1945, Victory in Europe Day-shortened to "V.E. Day"-brought with it the demise of Nazi Germany. But for the Allies, the war was only half-won. Exhausted but exuberant American soldiers, ready to return home, were sent to join the fighting in the Pacific, which by the spring and summer of 1945 had turned into a grueling campaign of bloody attrition against an enemy determined to fight to the last man. Germany had surrendered unconditionally. The Japanese
would clearly make the conditions of victory extraordinarily high.

Following V-E Day, American citizens understandably clamored for their young men to be shipped…


Island Encounters

By Lamont Lindstrom, Geoffrey M. White,

Book cover of Island Encounters: Black and White Memories of the Pacific War

Anyone interested in the War in the Pacific will find this collection of 175 photographs showing the variety of interactions of Islanders and foreign servicemen interesting. It goes beyond official military photos (though there are plenty of those) to include photos from Japanese sources and veterans’ personal photographs. The text gives insight into the conditions of war and how Islanders and foreign fighters perceived and dealt with each other. A beautifully produced book.

Island Encounters

By Lamont Lindstrom, Geoffrey M. White,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Island Encounters as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Explores the massive and sudden contact between powerful military forces and Pacific islanders, blending oral histories recorded in the islands after WWII with some 175 photographs gleaned from Japanese newspaper morgues, the private albums of US veterans, and Allied military archives. Annotation copyright Book News, Inc. Portland, Or.


MacArthur at War

By Walter R. Borneman,

Book cover of MacArthur at War: World War II in the Pacific

In view of the numerous controversies and varied views of General MacArthur’s actions and policies in the Pacific War, it is great to have a balanced and very carefully researched and presented account of a commander who was in it from Japan’s attack on the United States to Japan’s surrender. While dealing fairly with some of the criticisms of the general, Borneman does note his repeated announcements of battles being ended when they were not as well as the hopeless incompetence of his intelligence chief.

MacArthur at War

By Walter R. Borneman,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked MacArthur at War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

World War II changed the course of history. Douglas MacArthur changed the course of World War II. MACARTHUR AT WAR will go deeper into this transformative period of his life than previous biographies, drilling into the military strategy that Walter R. Borneman is so skilled at conveying, and exploring how personality and ego translate into military successes and failures.

Architect of stunning triumphs and inexplicable defeats, General MacArthur is the most intriguing military leader of the twentieth century. There was never any middle ground with MacArthur. This in-depth study of the most critical period of his career shows how MacArthur's…


Tower of Skulls

By Richard B. Frank,

Book cover of Tower of Skulls: A History of the Asia-Pacific War: July 1937-May 1942

Until about twenty years ago writers about World War II tended to treat the contest between the United States and Japan as separate from, and more significant than the other conflicts that engulfed China and Southeast Asia between 1937 and 1945. Today many historians, including almost all academic ones, speak of an “Asia-Pacific War” as a more accurate and appropriate description for this destructive era. Tower of Skulls, is the first general history that not only integrates the conflicts in the Pacific with those in mainland Asia but also demonstrates the close interconnection between them.

The first of a proposed trilogy, Frank’s book covers the period from the outbreak of the Sino-Japanese War in 1937 through Pearl Harbor and the Japan’s conquest of an empire rivaling Genghis Khan’s to the eve of the Imperial Navy’s first setback the Battle of the Coral Sea.  Despite its formidable length, the book…

Tower of Skulls

By Richard B. Frank,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Tower of Skulls as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In 1937 the swath of the globe from India to Japan contained half the world's population but only two nations with real sovereignty (Japan and Thailand) and two with compromised sovereignty (China and Mongolia). All other peoples in the region endured under some form of colonialism. Today the region contains nineteen fully sovereign nations.

Tower of Skulls is the first work to present a unified account of the course and impact of this part of the global war. It expands beyond military elements to highlight the critical political, economic and social reverberations of the struggle. Finally, it provides a graphic…


Flights of Passage

By Samuel Hynes,

Book cover of Flights of Passage: Recollections of a World War II Aviator

Perhaps the very best crafted book of this selection, this is a remarkable story about a relatively unremarkable combat career.  Samuel Hynes—who later taught at Northwestern and Princeton—gives the reader not just a rote recounting of his experiences as a Marine Corps pilot during the war, but he also shares what and how he felt. He is unwaveringly honest, and includes an account of a sexual encounter that at the very least causes the reader to reflect on the morals of that time. His book is a refreshing look behind the façade of “The Greatest Generation,” and reassures the reader that, other than circumstances, there is little that distinguishes individuals from one generation to the next.

Flights of Passage

By Samuel Hynes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Flights of Passage as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Samuel Hynes served as a consultant on "The War", directed and produced by Ken Burns and Lynn Novick, and appears on camera in several episodes.

"The War" is a seven-part, 14-hour documentary series that debuts on PBS on Sunday, September 23, 2007.

Sam Hynes was eighteen when he left his Minnesota home for navy flight school in 1943. By the time the war ended he was a veteran Marine pilot, still not quite twenty-one, and had flown more than a hundred missions in the Pacific theater. In this eloquent narrative, by turns dramatic, funny, and elegiac, Hynes recalls those extraordinary…


Surrender and Survival

By E. Bartlett Kerr,

Book cover of Surrender and Survival: The Experience of American Pow's in the Pacific 1941-1945

Similar to my own book and used as a research document for it, Surrender and Survival contains a detailed account of Allied POWs in Japanese POW camps from the beginning of the war to its end and their repatriation back to their homelands. It covers many of the locations that Ed Babler was held during his captivity as well as describes the infamous Hell Ships that Ed and hundreds of other POWs were transported on from the Philippines to the Japanese Mainland Islands and elsewhere. In addition, it describes the concept of the Bushido Code, explaining why and how the average Japanese soldier was able to treat the POWs so horribly. I find it a very good read to understand why and how the POWs were so terribly treated.

Surrender and Survival

By E. Bartlett Kerr,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Surrender and Survival as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Recounts Japanese treatment of more than twenty thousand U.S. prisoners of war during World War II, and discusses the cultural clashes that occurred


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