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Utmost Savagery: The Three Days of Tarawa
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Utmost Savagery: The Three Days of Tarawa

4.24  ·  Rating Details ·  272 Ratings  ·  15 Reviews
"The first complete and definitive account of the Battle of Tarawa."--Maj. Gen. Mike Ryan, USMC (Ret.)

Navy Cross recipient

Green Beach, Tarawa

On November 20, l943, in the first trial by fire of America's fledgling amphibious assault doctrine, five thousand men stormed the beaches of Tarawa, a seemingly invincible Japanese island fortress barely the size of the Pentagon park
Hardcover, 304 pages
Published January 1st 1995 by US Naval Institute Press
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'Aussie Rick'
Jun 13, 2009 'Aussie Rick' rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book of the fighting at Tarawa in WW2. The author has done a great job in presenting the story, it was so well told that I found it hard to put the book down. Ever since I was a kid I have had a fascination for the USMC and after reading this book I remember why. What guts! The author also presents the Japanese defenders as humans, rarely done in many books about combat in the Pacific during the war. The author has researched his story well and has used numerous maps and a n ...more
Wachlin007 Hotmail
Feb 23, 2008 Wachlin007 Hotmail rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This book tells the story of the battle of Tarawa. It was a very bloody battle. Many historians argue that this battle did not need to be fought, or that it should have been fought at a later time. This book shows the pros and cons of all sides on this issue, as well as telling of the heroics of the Marines who landed there. I liked this book.
Apr 08, 2010 Roger rated it really liked it
'Utmost Savagery: The Three Days of Tarawa' by Marine Col. Joseph H. Alexander is a rigorous and detailed account of one of the most important battles in WWII. Using fresh American and Japanese sources never before explored, the horror that was Betio island in the Tarawa atoll is definitive. This three day battle left “6000 dead in an area no bigger than the Pentagon and its parking lots.” The primal courage these Marines and Sailors showed while all around them was blood and chaos was nothing s ...more
Aaron Krebs
Oct 12, 2016 Aaron Krebs rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I had my attention drawn to this book, and first read it, in the late 90s, after a dedicated historical game was released for the Advanced Squad Leader game system, and it was mentioned as a reference used by the designers, and encouraged reading to the players. It is an incredible read.

This book manages to convey the sheer scope of the loss in this fight, over an unknown and arguably not-important-enough island, without inuring me completely. That felt to me like quite a feat, since literally t
P.e. lolo
Sep 18, 2012 P.e. lolo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A very good book about the history of WWII and the Marines who fought inthe Pacific. The story is not well known but for the Marines history and for those who fought there. This was not considered a victory at first because of the pictures that got sent back to the U.S.For this island was different than most in the Pacific. During the landing very few landing craft made it to shore they got stopped by a reef and could not make it over it, so they wrer sitting ducks. Those Marines thou left the c ...more
Jan 02, 2017 Jeff rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
For those with an interest in military history, this is an excellent book. The author hit the perfect balance between a high level view of strategic and tactical planning and the personal level of individual's fighting the battle. The book also discusses landings on surrounding islands as part of the overall operation. They may not have made that headlines as the main fighting on Tarawa but men still fought and died in them. The book is well illustrated with excellent maps. One map especially re ...more
Jane Thompson
Jan 25, 2017 Jane Thompson rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
When I was in college, there were several professors who had served in WWII and would tell us about their experiences. One was my geology prof, who told us about serving on Betio. He said that we had no maps and consequently some men were dumped off the side of the boat in full gear and drowned. He said that in subsequent assaults, he was put off the side of destroyer in a small rubber boat with a radio to send back soundings. He would then hide until the Marines deployed in the morning.

This aut
Jul 14, 2013 Kevin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Written by a professor of military history at The Citadel, this book is more definitive, has won some awards, and included more information about the Japanese side, and about the battle’s planning (which explains some aspects that have confused and angered people for years, such as why the landing took place during neap tide, stranding many Marines hundreds of meters from the beach, without any cover). Sometimes the writing was fairly good, and sometimes it was a bit stale, but I’d still recomme ...more
Oct 06, 2012 George rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"For the first thirty hours the amphibious assault of Tarawa hung in precarious balance. The Japanese garrison, fighting almost to the last man, sold their lives dearly, making the U.S. Marines pay for each square yard of sand ancoral." (page 11)

"Betio is the principal island in the (Tarawa) atoll. The island is barely two miles long, less than seven hundred yards wide at its center, and scruffy. It was an unlikely spot to become 'the Gibralter of the Pacific'." (page 13)

"The struggle for Betio
John Gorski
Excellent account of this brutal watershed battle. The author provides a cogent strategic and operational overview before concentrating on the tactical situation that dominated three days of fighting between US Marines and Japanese Special Naval Landing troops.
Alex Krembs
Superb detail you would expect from a battle review. Explains the elements of why this battle turned out to be so controversial. Conclusion of forward legacy to amphibious warfare and thorough review of key players and tactics/strategy are eloquent and well argued.
Jamie Morrison
Nov 20, 2012 Jamie Morrison rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
This book does a tremendous job of painting a picture of the savage fighting on Betio Island during the Gilbert Islands campaign. It also shows the gallantry exhibited by both sides throughout the battle. Overall, a good synopsis of how each side could have won the battle.
Michael (Mike)
Aug 11, 2013 Michael (Mike) rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shoup was a badass!
Tony Maxwell
Feb 06, 2012 Tony Maxwell rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of the best accounts of the battle to take the island of Betio in the Tarawa Atoll.
Rob Moore
Rob Moore rated it it was amazing
Feb 07, 2017
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May 31, 2015
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Col. Joseph H. Alexander, USMC served in the Corps for 29 years as an assault amphibian officer. He has written six books, including Utmost Savagery and Edson’s Raiders. He was the Naval Institute Author of the Year in 1996 and Naval History Author of the Year in 2010. He was the principal historian and writer on the exhibit design team throughout the construction of the National Museum of the Mar ...more
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