The Pacific by Hugh Ambrose was written as a companion to the HBO series of the same name. Ambrose follows five Marines to trace the character of the Pacific War. The vast and complex nature of that part of WWII makes the effort to give it depth, continuity and the personal touch to it much more difficult than the authors father faced when he described the European part of the war, by following a company of the 101st Airborne from training ground to victory. I rate this book "good" rather than excellent. The narrow scope of the narrative makes it difficult to follow the big picture....but to be fair it wasn’t supposed to do that anyway. Guadalcanal, Midway, Peleliu, Tarawa, Iwo Jima, Okinawa, etc. was war, which is always ugly and brutal, at it's very worst. The Japanese invariably chose death over surrender, offering no quarter. They did not accept any of the restraints of the Geneva Convention. The Marines often were forced to respond in kind. Take a look at a few pictures from the battle of Iwo Jima.... then and now.
Mount Suribachi overlooks the landing beaches. During the battle for Iwo Jima, Mt Suribachigave the defending Japanese forces a perfect vantage point from which to direct lethalartillery fire on the Marines' hastily dug positions on the beach.
Futatsune Beach, today known by visiting Marines as Invasion Beach, is where on19 February 1945, the Marines landed on D-Day of the invasion of Iwo Jima. This picturewas taken from near the top of Mt. Suribachi. Forward Observer's dream!
Marines race across the beach to experience a fraction of the experiences the Marines whofought for Iwo Jima might have had on D-Day of the Battle. The major difference betweentoday and 1945 is that today no one is shooting at them!
The guide for this trip asked the Marines to rush this dune to get an idea of what the Marineswho took Iwo Jima faced. Every step you take up, you slide down and into the dune. Youhave to work hard to get to the top. Imagine doing it with 100 lbs on your back while beingshot at and artillery raining down on you.
At this place at that time "uncommon valor was a common virtue." Admiral Nimitiz