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With the Old Breed: At Peleiu and Okinawa [Hardcover]

Eugene B. Sledge
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)

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Book Description

1 Jan 1920
E. B. Sledge was barely in his twenties when he volunteered for the U. S. Marines. By the time he landed on the beach at Peleliu in 1944, his patriotic idealism and his understanding of the strategic importance of the island were of secondary consequence to his determination to survive. Recalling the friendships forged and lost during the battles, this field memoir is a stirring chronicle of action and courage.
--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 344 pages
  • Publisher: Presidio Press; Reissue edition (1 Jan 1920)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0891411194
  • ISBN-13: 978-0891411192
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 15.9 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (96 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,290,521 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'One of the most arresting documents in war literature.' --John Keegan, in The Second World War

'Of all the books about the ground war in the Pacific, (With the Old Breed) is the closest to a masterpiece.' --- The New York Review of Books --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

Book Description

The amazing and moving WW2 memoir, on which the major new Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg series The Pacific is based. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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First Sentence
I enlisted in the Marine Corps on 3 December 1942 at Marion, Alabama. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
4.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
101 of 101 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
E B (Gene) Sledge's memoir of his time in the Pacific War has been an incredibly rich source for for television history. Ken Burns drew extensively upon his account for his brilliant series "The War" particularly in Episode 9 "FUBAR" and his words are read and quoted. Now it extensively figures again in the what will be one of the great series of modern television, HBOs "The Pacific" a 10-part mini-series from the creators of "Band of Brothers" telling the intertwined stories of three Marines during America's battle with the Japanese in the Pacific during World War II. "Helmet for My Pillow" by Robert Leckie is the other key primary source and you may wish to read the reviews elsewhere of that excellent book. It is Sledge's memoir however that in my subjective opinion is the definitive account of this terrible conflict.

Gene Sledge was no backseat General or causal observer, he gave up a graduation course leading to a commissioned officer's position to serve as a Private First Class in the Pacific Theater and saw combat at the raging infernos of Peleliu with its controversial airfield and Okinawa. He played others roles such as a stretcher bearer and constantly throughout his service, Sledge kept extensive "unauthorised notes" of what happened in his pocket sized New Testament. If you go over to the US Amazon site you will see that this book has nearly 300 reviews and Sledge is rightly compared to Robert Graves as a war author. This is no American hyperbole. Gene Sledge aside from his military feats is a great writer and remembrancer.

This is by no means a "jolly romp" war memoir it is a brutal and often terrifyingly honest account of a soldiers experience and the deep fear and boredom that underpins this.
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32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Into the Abyss 13 April 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The decision of HBO to use `With the Old Breed' as one the key sources for their $ 200 million mini-series ` The Pacific' has brought Eugene Sledge's war memoirs has a whole new global readership. First published in 1981 but using notes taken at the time of the battles in 1944/5, this is an account of the author's recruitment and training in the US Marine Corps and his participation in two of World War Two's most brutal and horrific battles . The original working title of was `Into the Abyss' and nothing comes closer to describing the particular forms of hell that were the battles of Peleliu and Okinawa. Whilst the author refers to the wider strategic picture, that is only reference events and this remains a very personal account.

Sledge doesn't shy away from describing in detail the horror of the battlefield with its rotting corpses, mangled body parts and human excrement. Too often in other literature comparisons with the First World War's trenches are drawn, yet on Okinawa the combination of multiple assaults against a well entrenched enemy and a rain saturated battlefield lead to a repeat of those conditions. It was only the lack of Japanese re-enforcements that ensured this campaign did not develop into the same stalemate.

Despite all the horror around him and the killing he had to do, Sledge's own humanity, whilst tested, survives and shines through. There is no sense of blood lust for the death of the Japanese, even though their conduct is often appalling, and Sledge finds no glory in war even in the eventual US victory.

The writing is one of the great strengths of this book. The author was well educated and after the war went on to become a Professor of biology.
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25 of 26 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sobering account of the realities of war 30 May 2000
By A Customer
By the end of this book I felt a real attatchment to the author and the men who shared the experiences described in the book.
It is not one of the best works of literature I have come across, however it is one of the best accounts of the reality of war on a group of men I have read.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
E.B.SLEDGE writes with authority and from bitter experience, he explains how and why he joined up to the marine corps. The rigours of the training, and eventually how he felt when faced with certain death on the beaches of the Pacific islands. He relates the joy of comradeship, and of the sorrow at losing friends and respected leaders.
This is a book not for people who see war as Glory and Hurrahs, it is one mans account of the true horror of combat, and of the comradeship that kept him sane!
A must read book!!! !! !
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18 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Read this book 25 Nov 2003
By Querfs
I would defy anyone, having started this book, to put it down before the final page. A plainly narrated and therefore haunting personal account of bitter and bloody conflict. How human nature succumbs or survives in 'survival conditions', the unfiltered realities of battle experience in the mechanised era, and the loyalty that binds fighting men together.
No political preambles and chapters devoted to strategy here - this is the life of the enlisted men and some of the officers they knew.
I sincerely hope that EB Sledge, by writing of his experiences without artifice or literary illusion, realised he created required reading for anyone interested in the realties of war.
Read it and be awed.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic real life account of experience in the war arena.
I bought this book as a gift for my Dad but I have already read it and really recommend it. Buy the DVD set too.
Published 19 days ago by LIZ
5.0 out of 5 stars World War Two
An excellent read for those interested in the world wars. Well written and captivating. Safely packaged and on time. Thanks.
Published 22 days ago by M J Hall
5.0 out of 5 stars Top Read
If you are looking for a book that takes you into the heart of the war in the Pacific, this is that book. Read more
Published 26 days ago by Nasher
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent Read
This is a book with lots of action and good information about writer and his fellow marines.

I like this book as it tells you what the characters were like as people... Read more
Published 1 month ago by David Cotton
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply brilliant!
Eugene Sledge (Sledgehammer's) account is a very honest graphic tail of bravery in the most horrific episodes of fighting the Japanese in the Pacific.
Published 1 month ago by P. Mannings
4.0 out of 5 stars good read
Bought this after watching the Pacific WW2 series, difficult to put down once picked up. Read after reading helmet for my pillow which was written by another combatant.
Published 1 month ago by Paul Turner
5.0 out of 5 stars The raggerty ass marine.
A sublime account of the hell of war. E.B.S lived through 2 of the worst campaigns in WWII, and he did'nt just duck his head and wait for it to be over. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Nicolai Kressner
5.0 out of 5 stars A real personal insight into the horrors of the war in the Pacific
A mix of what happened and how the author feelt during his experience. Very well written which allows the reader to appreciate what 'Sledgehammer' and his colleagues went through. Read more
Published 2 months ago by peter christie
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read
Good to get the story from soemone that was actually there. The film is good too. I recommend you read the book first though.
Published 2 months ago by Andrew1967
5.0 out of 5 stars WWII
Excellent book which was recommended to me and did not disappoint at all. Well written by someone who was there (which is not always the case). Read more
Published 2 months ago by Mr. Andrew P. Stange
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