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Fire and Fortitude: The US Army in the Pacific War, 1941-1943 Hardcover – July 30, 2019
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“This eloquent and powerful narrative is military history written the way it should be.”—James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize-winning historian
"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, a reflection of a well-deserved reputation for valor. 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 our most highly acclaimed historians of World War II, takes readers from Pearl Harbor—a rude awakening for a military 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.
INCLUDES MAPS AND PHOTOS
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“This eloquent and powerful narrative is military history written the way it should be. John C. McManus has seamlessly blended the strategic and tactical story with deep analysis of the political context and social composition of armies that embodied the cultures of the nations from which they were formed. During the two years covered by this book, American forces in the Pacific theater transitioned from fighting on a shoestring defensive to the beginning of mighty offensives that would prove irreversible.”—James M. McPherson, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of Battle Cry of Freedom
“An expert, opinionated World War II history with some unsettling conclusions . . . Entirely engrossing.”—Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“In this compelling narrative, John McManus does for the US Army in the Pacific what Rick Atkinson did for the Army in Europe: chronicle its growth and transformation from a small, insular, pre-war constabulary into an enormous and efficient fighting machine. In the process he deftly profiles the leaders and captures all of the human drama of the Pacific War.”—Craig L. Symonds, Lincoln Prize-winning author of World War II at Sea
“From the burning waters of Pearl Harbor to the sweltering jungles of Guadalcanal and the icy shores of Alaska's Aleutian Islands, Fire and Fortitude is a heart-pounding journey through the tragedies and the triumphs of the Pacific. Historian John C. McManus, armed with an incredible eye for detail and the deft touch of a novelist, has crafted one of the finest epics of World War II.”—James M. Scott, Pulitzer Prize-finalist and author of Target Tokyo and Rampage
“John McManus, one of America’s great historians, has written a masterpiece. From the red light district in Honolulu just hours before the attack on Pearl Harbor to the nearly forgotten assault on fiercely defended Makin Island, Fire and Fortitude is a long-overdue saga of the US Army’s punishing fight in the Pacific. McManus brilliantly transports the reader back in time, offering new information and dazzling analysis in this groundbreaking narrative.”—Patrick K. O’Donnell, author of The Unknowns: The Untold Story of America’s Unknown Soldier and WWI’s Most Decorated Heroes Who Brought Him Home
“Army ground troops constituted by far the largest element of American military forces arrayed against Japan in the Pacific War, yet their efforts have been overshadowed in the popular American memory by the achievements of the Marines and the Navy. John C. McManus's exhaustively researched and highly readable book goes far to redress the balance. In many ways his treatment of the Army in the war against Japan may well be compared to Rick Atkinson's work on the Army in the European Theater.”—Ronald Spector, author of Eagle Against the Sun: The American War with Japan
About the Author
- Publisher : Dutton Caliber; 1st Edition (July 30, 2019)
- Language : English
- Hardcover : 640 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0451475046
- ISBN-13 : 978-0451475046
- Item Weight : 2.1 pounds
- Dimensions : 6.4 x 1.94 x 9.52 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #58,435 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
About the author
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I do not know what edition of the book some of the reviewers were reading, but my book was filled with maps. Those maps were well designed and presented. I referred to the maps numerous times as I read the text. Because the maps presented both the American and Japanese movements, these maps were invaluable. I especially appreciated the use of a graph which was included in all the maps that displayed the M1 Garand and Browning Automatic Rifle (BAR) overlapped with each other.
Of the several hundred books about World War II I have read, this book contains the best and most moving description of what Army troops experienced in the jungles of New Guinea against a determined enemy who refused to surrender. I broke out in a sweat and felt the mosquito, and purple leeches on my skin when the author described our soldiers walking across the Stanley Range in overwhelming heat, humidity, rain, and disease. Also, the Army fighting in Buna, New Guinea was some of the most dreadful in the Pacific, but that significant event appears to have been ignored by many historians who were enthralled by the Marine Corps’s island invasions.
This book presents in detail the horrors of the treatment of American and Filipino from the POW’s point of view after the surrender of Bataan and Corregidor. The title of his chapter on the life of POWs at camp O’Donnell is simply titled “HELL.” No where do I see his explaining away the behavior of the Japanese during the Bataan Death March or how they managed the POW camps where thousands of U.S. Army and Filipino soldiers died. McManus does not forget, nor forgive, the horrendous decisions of General Homma, the Japanese commander whose decisions led to the Death March. He does describe why Homma may have made these decisions based on written records of the post-war period. Homma was executed by firing squad for war crimes in April, 1946,
Dr. McManus does write about the personality and mistakes made by General MacArthur during the early years of the war. His writing uses documents written by the men who served with and under him in the Army. As his former chief of staff wrote President Eisenhower, “MacArthur could never see another sun, or even a moon for that matter, as long as he was the sun.” Despite his personality, the author does conclude that MacArthur did learn and change his views of what it was like for the average G.I. fighting in New Guinea, Guadalcanal, and building the Burma road. The reversal of our fortunes and success of our military efforts did rest in part on the fact that MacArthur changed his leadership on how our army should fight in the western Pacific.
It is my opinion this is the finest single book I have read about the U.S. Army’s life and military actions in the Pacific during World War II. It is a must read for avid readers about the war as well as other historians who want a well-documented and scholarly analysis of events from 1941-1943. I highly recommend this book and I looking forward to his next edition covering from late 1943 to post-VJ day.
The author's specific purpose is to rehabilitate the reputation of the U.S. Army in the Pacific theater. The Army's enormous contributions have tended to be obscured over time by the attention given to the U.S. Marine Corps, the U.S. Pacific Fleet, and even the U.S. Army Air Corps. Readers should be forewarned that this is not a detailed campaign history. The author is much more interested in the experience of combat, stripped of any overlay of glorification. The narrative is blunt, colorful, and often opinionated. Well recommended to the general reader.
If taken on face value, one would wonder why Americans would fight at all in World War II. According to the author, America was an immoral monster that stole Hawaii and bullied China and the Phillipines. He condemns the U.S. but never explains that America was only one country with designs on Hawaii. That territory could easily have been British, or Russian territory prior to American annexation.
His personal disdain for MacArthur, and other American leaders of that period is obvious. He makes it obvious he believes that MacArthur was a cad and conniving glory hound and all but lays thousands of American and Filipino deaths at his feet.
To be fair, he does try to balance his judgements with occasional pats on the back but the attempts seem disingenuous.
It is important to view history through a modern lense, which he does well. But, he fails at seeing the world through the eyes of those that lived it. America was no more moral or immoral than any other country at that time.
His assertion that the Marine Corps is some how at fault for the uneven and unfair, at times, reporting of the Army in the Pacific is not true. To understand this phenomena one must look to General Pershing in World War I.
Plus, the first Medals of Honor in World War II were not won by soldiers in the Phillipines. They were won by service members at Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941. I can think of three off of the top of my head and they still rest in the ship's where they died.
He does make valid points as to the short sightedness and unfairness of American Policy but, he is too quick in judging America as immoral and inept.
It seems more a moralistic rewrite of history than actual history in which he glosses over Japanese atrocities and believes General Homma blameless regarding the Bataan Death March, invoking ignorance on Homma's part. Considering Japanese military protocol this seems groundless. Japanese soldiers did nothing without orders.
Perhaps had he left his personal bias and moral asides out of the book it would have been a better and interesting read.
If you need someone to tell you how immoral America was in the past, this book is for you. If you like to decide for yourself, it is a hard read.
Before accepting his assertions on the personalities in his book, read other biographies first.