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The Pacific (The Official HBO/Sky TV Tie-In) Paperback – 2 Jun 2011
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"A brutal account ... for those who want more of the nightmare of those foxholes after ten hours of The Pacific, this book is for you." (The Times)
"Extremely good ... he lets his soldiers tell the story. Through those young men we are given an uncompromising picture of the war, which, after the attack on Pearl Harbor, most Americans believed to be their most important engagement. The TV series might offer us a glimpse of that distant conflict in the Pacific. Hugh Ambrose's book gives us the greatestgeneration in the round." (Scotsman)
"A compelling book which affords Pacific veterans the testament they deserve." (Julian Fleming Sunday Business Post)
The Official Companion Book to the HBO miniseries from the producers of Band of BrothersSee all Product description
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So I had high hopes not only of the new mini-series 'Pacific' (it is HBO, after all!) and the book by Hugh Ambrose.
There's something slightly self-indulgent about the mini-series, and there's something VERY self-indulgent about the book. Let me explain what is so very wrong with it...
It's the style of writing. It's difficult to explain, but I've narrowed it down to the following problems:
- The 'bullet-point compendium' problem: it's like Mr Ambrose was doing masses and masses of research, and listed thousands of bullet points of things to include. Then it's as though he just compiled all the bullet points into the main text, with no real attempt to weave it all together. Many sentences are ridiculously short, and there's often a whole string of them just kind of thrown together. It gets very irritating and tedious, almost like a barrage of 'sound-bites'. That leads to the second point...
- The picture postcard style: think of when you send a postcard to your family - you throw a lot of facts down in a small space to cover as much ground as possible. Mr Ambrose does this repeatedly. So we get not only the 'bullet point' style, but a mystifying and confusing overload of detail - detail that's often not really relevant to the topic at hand. I found myself repeatedly thinking "What? - Why on earth is that in there?" What do I mean by this? Well an example might be if someone were describing a really important event in some detail, listing the characters, the situation etc. and it's littered with phrases like "He was a bit hungry so he had a bar of chocolate." Followed quickly by "The washing machine had finished the spin cycle. That's the Model 7000A washing machine, which had been delivered the day before." It's like this all the way through. It drove me potty!
- The lack of emotional narrative. Stephen Ambrose put you in the thick of the action. Hugh Ambrose describes it like he's a robot recalling facts.
BUT, in the interests of objectivity, there are sections of excellent readability. It's like two different people wrote the book. Or (sadly, possibly) that production deadlines forced it to be completed without joining parts of the narrative up properly.
I accept some people may enjoy the style - I guess it's partly about how your brain processes stuff. But it didn't suit my style and I was massively disappointed. I read a lot of historical stuff and I have not read anything quite like this for a long time. Or maybe I've just been too spoiled by Mr Ambrose Snr?
Sadly the 10% that should be interesting isn't. The Battle of Midway, one of the pivotal points of the war is largely told through the eyes of one pilot and reads like just another day at the office. No doubt this says much for the pilot's bravery and professionalism however it would have benefited from a wider perspective and a few more pages, at the expense of some of the many others e.g those that list the travels of the contributors from training base to training base.
"The Pacific" by Huge Ambrose is a collection of experiences by soldiers and airmen involved in the Pacific campaign against Imperial Japan during World War II. I have appreciated reading about these brave men: marines, airmen and even POWs. This book is a complement of the HBO/Sky series by the same name and is not simply relating the same material. You will find some characters in the book which are not featured in the TV series and some characters from the TV series are hardly covered by the book.
The Imperial Japanese Navy attack upon Pearl Harbour was supposed to produce a short war where the United States would leave Imperial Japan to rule their empire unopposed, but it caused the American nation, the "sleeping giant" to rise up in hatred and fury against the "sneaky attack" that Japan had inflicted upon Pearl Harbour.
Be warned, some of the material is horrific and disturbing, but that was the nature of this conflict where brutal Japanese soldiers, airmen and sailors took no notice of the rules of warfare and simply did what they wanted. They used bayonets on defenceless prisoners and thought nothing of massacring women and children. If POWs attempted to escape they were savagely beaten and then executed. Beatings by Japanese soldiers were very common and they regarded Chinese people especially as subhuman, treating them accordingly.
American soldiers soon learnt not to trust "Jap surrender" because that usually involved the Japanese soldier setting off a grenade which would take the lives of many unwary American soldiers. As a consequence hardly any experienced marines took risks. Such facts emphasize the brutal nature of the fighting and illustrate how bitter the conflict was. All this is reflected in the pages of this book.
There are sadly a considerable number of aspects about this book I found very disappointing. This is a poorly made book. There is no contents page, no index, few maps and no listing of maps, chapters are very long and there are no subheadings. The text is very small and I personally used a magnifying glass to read with comfort, which is something other older readers will have difficulty with also. Due to the lack of enough ink applied when printing the text on some pages is very faint and even more difficult to read.
At the start I stated how much I enjoyed reading the works of Stephen Ambrose. But sadly this book by Huge Ambrose has not been anywhere near the lofty standards set by his father. Poor production values, have seriously undermined the fine experiences contained in this book. It all feels as though this book has been put together in a hurry, so that it's release coincides with the HBO/Sky series and lacks the methodical care that one normally expects from a quality history book.
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Most recent customer reviews
Although has the DVDs this was thoroughly enjoyed. It is an excellent book.
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