Saturday, 23 April 2011

Off The Bookshelf

With the Old Breed by Eugene Sledge - I must admit I read this off the back of watching the HBO series The Pacific'. It's an excellent read. Sledge doesn't pull any punches in his description of the fighting on Peleliu and Okinawa, or more importantly the descriptions of the conditions the Marines lived in.

Like the Band of Brothers TV series, the series does take certain liberties altering or merging certain events. For example, the scene of Peleliu when Snafu is throwing small stones into the open brain cavity of a dead Japanese soldier. Sledge does not  name the individual who actually did that, so unless the series writers or producers were privy to information I am not aware of, it could or could not been Snafu. When on Okinawa and Sledge is digging a foxhole only to find a corpse at the bottom, the event described in the book is far more graphic and horrific.

For myself I certainly felt that despite the fact that Sledge alludes to the waste of war, in terms of human misery and suffering, on both sides. He certainly does not demonstrate remorse over the killing of Japanese soldiers, during the conflict. His approach is similar to many accounts of veterans of WW2 in that 'they' were the enemy, and 'they' would kill you unless you got in first. Also a sense of pride comes through in having served in the US Marine Corp. Though he is critical of individuals on occasion ie certain officers, Sledge does not enter into the realm of criticising strategy, it literally is just an account of how he saw things, his war. 

If you're interested in the Pacific conflict then I fully recommend this book. A great read, and from a wargaming point of view certainly got me thinking about starting a Pacific project. But not yet!     

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