Fire and Fortitude, John C McManus ( PAPERBACK)



Out here, mention is seldom seen of the achievements of the Army ground troops,' wrote one officer in the fall of 1943, 'whereas the Marines are blown up to the skies.' Even today, the Marines are celebrated as the victors of the Pacific. Yet the majority of fighting and dying in the war against Japan was done not by Marines, but by unsung Army soldiers.

John C. McManus, one of the most highly acclaimed historians of World War II, takes readers from Pearl Harbor - a rude awakening for a ragtag militia woefully unprepared for war - to Makin, a sliver of coral reef where the Army was tested against the increasingly desperate Japanese. In between were nearly two years of punishing combat as the Army transformed, at times unsteadily, from an undertrained garrison force into an unstoppable juggernaut, and America evolved from an inward-looking nation into a global superpower.

At the pinnacle of this richly told story are the generals: Douglas MacArthur, a military autocrat driven by his dysfunctional lust for fame and power; Robert Eichelberger, perhaps the greatest commander in the theater yet consigned to obscurity by MacArthur's jealousy; Vinegar Joe Stillwell, a prickly soldier miscast in a diplomat's role; and Walter Krueger, a German-born officer who came to lead the largest American ground force in the Pacific.

Enriching the narrative are the voices of men otherwise lost to history: the uncelebrated army grunts who endured stifling temperatures, apocalyptic tropical storms, rampant malaria and other diseases, as well as a fanatical enemy bent on total destruction.

This is an essential, ambitious book, the first of two volumes, a compellingly written and boldly revisionist account of a war that reshaped the American military and the globe, and continues to resonate today.


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