This account of the Pacific campaign of the 1st Marine Division during WWII will probably become much more widely read as a result of it being used as a major source text for the HBO series The Pacific, than would have been the case without the TV exposure.
This is a heartfelt account of a volunteer's life in the USMC. Much of the material and structure of the book is actually rather familiar, not because so much has been written about the Pacific campaign, but because it seems little changed in the `corps` from WWII to Vietnam. If you have watched "Full Metal Jacket", the training stages will be familiar, as will the crazy brave, fatalistic attitude of many of the marines. This is a book that reinforces the idea that the experience of war for the "boots on the ground" solider is not that different between wars, even if the public perception of the war may vary.
The book itself consists of four major sections, training, first combat, R and R in Melbourne and a return to the front. Each section is important, but the section based in Melbourne did seem to occupy more pages than I would have thought necessary.
In this section there are descriptions of locations around Melbourne that are disjointed, and the geography described is imprecise. If this occurs during sections recalled from the relaxed position of R and R, you have to wonder about some of the detail in the combat sections.
If, like me, you came to the book via the TV series you will recognize many scenes, although it is interesting what seems to have been omitted or reordered, and to wonder why this has happened.
It is clear that the author had huge respect for the people he fought alongside, and grudging respect for the tenacity of his foe.
If nothing else, this book really does show that the more things change, the more they stay the same and that the brutality of war does not end on the battle field. From this experience, Leckie was able to write a book that is brutal, honest and at times a little poetic.
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