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Hell in the Pacific: A Marine Rifleman's Journey from Guadalcanal to Peleliu Hardcover – 5 Jun 2012


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Hell in the Pacific: A Marine Rifleman's Journey from Guadalcanal to Peleliu + Battleground Pacific: A Marine Rifleman's Combat Odyssey in K/3/5
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Hell in the Pacific In what may be the last memoir to be published by a living veteran of the pivotal invasion of Guadalcanal, Marine McEnery has teamed up with Sloan to create an immersive chronicle of horror and heroism first made famous by the HBO miniseries "The Pacific." Full description

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Amazon.com: 44 reviews
18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
a boots on the ground memoir 7 July 2012
By John Umland - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I had too many books in my hands from the new book shelf at my local library. Since I only get them for two weeks, I needed to make hard choices. I'm happy I kept Hell in the Pacific: A Marine Rifleman's Journey From Guadalcanal to Peleliu, the story of Marine Jim McEnery written with Bill Sloan. Sloan has written several books on the Pacific Theater of World War 2. I had to warm up to this book though. This is not With the Old Breed by Sledge, which I recently read, but McEnery had met Sledge and fought with him in theater. Sledge is quoted several times, as well as several other writers on the war.

As friends were made by McEnery, only to have them die, I realized that this was a different kind of story than Sledge's. This book was not about the big picture, although he did take frequent swipes at "Dugout" Douglas MacArthur, but the small picture of one soldier, who survived Gaudalcanal, Cape Gloucester, and Peleliu without earning a Purple Heart. His worst physical injury was popping some ligaments in his leg as he was under fire while sliding down a steep creek bank. Emotionally and spiritually though he was desperately wounded. It seems his Catholic faith helped him keep his sanity. Under continual fire, watching good soldiers and good friends die randomly, engaging in hand to hand combat with Japanese who would only fight to the death, he returns over and over again to the Lord's Prayer just like Sledge. He prayed for his friends' souls. He prayed it to make peace in his soul as he watched in the middle of the night for the Japanese who would slip into foxholes to kill Americans in the dark. He prayed as shells fell all around him.

He had the terrible experience to be one of few soldiers who watched the greatly loved officer "Ack-Ack" Andrew Haldane, also honored by Sledge, killed by a Japanese sniper with a bullet to the head. In the midst of his shock, he was pulled back from the edge of his sanity by his responsibility as the replacement senior Marine on that patrol.

McEnery was able to return to the U. S. mainland after Peleliu. He doesn't tell, like Sledge, if he suffered from years of nightmares. He mostly speaks of the good things in his life when he came home. His wife, his daughter, his jobs in the Marines and after the marines, his pride in the Marines and the affinity he still feels for his group that is now in Afghanistan. This is his story, with the view from the ground, and he keeps it grounded there, which makes it worth reading.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
An Incredible Story of Courage & Sacrifices 19 July 2013
By Jeannie Walker (Award-Winning Author) - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
"There are no atheist's in a fox hole."
The bravery witnessed in this extraordinary book about the sacrifices, horrors, and heroism of war will never be forgotten. I know I won't forget it.
Marine Sgt. Jim McEnery had many friends who fought beside him and many of them died. He and his Marine buddies engaged in hand to hand combat with the Japanese during World War Two. As many Americans should know the Japanese fought to the death.
I love how this marine prayed for his friends, prayed for peace as he watched for Japanese who would slip into foxholes in the middle of the night to kill Americans. He told how he watched as one of his officers, who was loved by all the Marines, was killed by a Japanese sniper. After that shot, McEnery became the senior Marine in charge of the patrol.
This a gut wrenching story told in a very profound way. I won't forget the story of the brave men who died or those who lived. I will take pride in praying for all of them. "Hell in the Pacific:" A Marine Rifleman's Journey From Guadalcanal to Peleliu" is a book I believe everyone should read. I want to take this opportunity to thank you Sgt. McEnery for your dedication and brave service to our great nation, and to let you and Bill Sloan know that you did a wonderful job writing this book!

Jeannie Walker- Award Winning Author - "Fighting the Devil" - A True Story of Consuming Passion, Deadly Poison, and Murder
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
One of the best World War 2 marine accounts of combat yet! 6 Mar. 2014
By Joe Creason - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
I listened to the ~8 hour audiobook narrated by Robert Fass. The last paragraph of my review covers that production specifically.

4½ stars. Highly recommended!

Jim McEnery is another marine who fought in the PTO during WW2 in the famous K/3/5, the same company as Sledge, Burgin, Mace and Miller who have all also wrote memoirs. McEnery fought in Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester and Peleliu as a sgt. This is probably one of the top ten memoirs from an author who saw combat in those campaigns.

After a brief glimpse of McEnery's life before joining the marines he first heads to Guadalcanal where he spends the least time in action in any of the campaigns in the book. Instead, the most detail focuses on the extreme hardship and lack of supplies available to the marines during that early island campaign. We do hear about McEnery's participation in the clean up detail of the doomed Goettge patrol. He then serves on Cape Gloucester, giving probably the most detailed account I have read so far about that campaign (Burgin gives some good insights as well in ISLANDS OF THE DAMNED). Again, the horrible conditions he underwent are revealed extensively and he's also involved in more of the action (including a bayonet charge) and reflects upon his own deeds as well.

Then there is some recuperation on the terrible island of Pavuvu (home of rats and flaming land crabs) and McEnery takes part in his final campaign the Battle of Peleliu. Again he's in a lot of the combat and portrays the horrors of that little known battle (though much of the same ground covered by Sledge is mentioned in this account in a slightly more visceral manner). Still, McEnery is clear and harrowing in the details he describes. As I said, there is a lot of overlap between McEnery, Burgin and the Sledge as well the Mace accounts, though McEnery's account has him more in the thick of things and features more references to his comrades explicitly, this is especially poignant when many of them fall in combat on Peleliu.

A few things keeping the book from a perfect score are the more generalized accounts of McEnery's actions (though they are extensive compared to other accounts) and maybe too much high ranking commander criticism that seemed to be inserted by Sloan (the coauthor) as exposition which seemed out of place and would sometimes disjoint the running narrative.

But those drawbacks are minor, this is still one of the best accounts, just behind Sledge's WITH THE OLD BREED and Overton's GOD ISN'T HERE and on par with Rogal's GUADALCANAL, TARAWA AND BEYOND. Hence the 4½ stars.

The audiobook was narrated by Robert Fass and he does an admirable job. He reads the book at a slower cadence than say, the narrator of Burgin's book, but you get used to it. The descriptions of combat action kind of suffer due to the pace at times, however.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Hell indeed! 30 Sept. 2012
By John E. Larsen - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
McEnery volunteered for the Marines, because the Army depot was closed that day! He had had a tough time of it during The Depression but he felt the call of duty and duly served with the now famous K/3/5 Marines, of the 1st Marine Division. As such he was part of the American forces that fought on Guadalcanal, Cape Gloucester and Peleliu.

McEnery was part of the first wave onto Guadalcanal. He was involved in several incredible incidents, like finding the remains (literally) of the Goettge patrol and a bayonet charge. He does though miss the epic battles, like Edson's Ridge, which he still describes in some detail. He is shelled and bombed and starves like all the others. He witnesses death very close up and has some very close calls (and malaria) himself.

After a very enjoyable Melbourne leave, he fights in the division's next action on Cape Gloucester, New Britain. In my now extensive reading of memoirs from this theatre, I can say that McEnery writes in more detail about this campaign than anyone else (though Leckie is also quite good) and this is with missing several key actions due to injury. He is at Suicide Creek and writes of killing with his bayonet, something else that is rarely written about.

The outstanding campaign, in terms of the extent McEnery is in combat, is Peleliu. It is just a place of carnage! The images are available to us thanks to the TV series and it is still astonishing to think the 1st Marine Division was expended so needlessly here. It is also incredible that men like McEnery lived through it, essentially without a scratch. This can't be said for the majority of his comrades of course, or the Japanese, and McEnery contributes mightily to their slaughter. This is particularly the case on the neighbouring island of Ngesebus, where McEnery performs incredible deeds in face to face combat.

This book is very much at the top end of combat accounts from The Pacific theatre. Sledge and Overton still hold the lead because of the unremitting detailed nature of their revelations and perspectives. Leckie and Manchester are great writers but McEnery's account stacks up well against them all (see my list). His story flows smoothly and he is a front line soldier in some of the fiercest battles of the war. He also probably directly killed more Japanese than any of those others named. The combat he experienced is just relentless. McEnery also writes about the now famous personalities of his company, including Sledge and the revered Captain Haldane. He doesn't hold back on the criticism of those who he holds responsible for the Peleliu debarcle either. If you are interested in combat accounts from the Pacific Theatre, this is a must. It is vivid, unsanitised and jammed with combat action and it leaves you in no doubt that fighting in the Pacific was Hell!

Very Highly Recommended 4¾ stars
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Excellant companion to Sledge's book 18 Sept. 2012
By Michael J Ellis - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Hardcover
Jim McEnery has written a book that defintiely belongs along with the best of Marine memoirs of the Pacific War.This one shows it like it was, treats everyone fairly (including Mace and Sledge) and actually shows a type of veteran we dont see too often; the one that is unapologetic for what they had to do to survive. He doesn't shrink from showing his mind, or heart or actions and letting the reader judge them how they may. He doesn't romanticise the enemy nor demonize them, they simply are the force he has to recon with.

Defintiely worth the pick up and reading. Its interesting if you read this, Sledge's book, Sterling Mace's book, RV Burgin's book and Sidney Phillips as well as Robert Leckie's
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