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With the Old Breed

4.38 of 5 stars 4.38  ·  rating details  ·  15,623 ratings  ·  984 reviews
“Eugene Sledge became more than a legend with his memoir, With The Old Breed. He became a chronicler, a historian, a storyteller who turns the extremes of the war in the Pacific—the terror, the camaraderie, the banal and the extraordinary—into terms we mortals can grasp.”—Tom Hanks


In The Wall Street Journal, Victor Davis Hanson named With the Old Br
Paperback, 326 pages
Published May 1st 2007 by Presidio Press (first published November 1981)
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Steve Sckenda
Feb 22, 2014 Steve Sckenda rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those Unafraid of Facing the Heart of Darkness
Shelves: memoir, courage, death
This memoir of a young WWII marine is not for the faint of heart. It is not for those who want to be shielded from unpleasant truths about human nature and about themselves. Do any of us really know how we would act once the patina of civilization disappears?

Eugene Sledge, a 19-year-old from Alabama, battled the Japanese at Peleliu and Okinawa in 1944-1945. A fugitive from the law of averages, he survived the war without a physical wound, despite being in the goriest fighting in the Pacific. Af
With the Old Breed should be required reading in our classrooms, for this is the brutal reality of war at its most horrific. No sensationalism here; E. B. Sledge merely tells it the way it was. There is no glory in war, in the shedding of another man's blood; in digging a foxhole in a torrential downpour only to uncover the badly decomposing body of a Japanese soldier crawling with maggots; in watching helplessly as four of your comrades retrieve, on a stretcher, a wounded Marine amid machinegun ...more

You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you'll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.

~Sigrfried Sassoon

William Tecumseh Sherman said it. "War is hell."
As a veteran of the Mexican War and the Civil War, he should know.

What is it about war which makes us glorify it?
Little boys tear around with swords and guns fighting off imaginary enemies.
Larger boys now sit glued before gaming devices doing essentially the same thing, complete wi
Eugene Sledge would seem an unlikely author of what I consider the most powerful memoir of war in the Pacific theater. The son of a Mobile, Alabama, doctor, Eugene began his military career as a candidate in an academic college program that would have made him an officer. However, he deliberately failed to become a Marine assigned to infantry in the Pacific. Sledge's account is told in frank, straight forward and understated language. The Pacific war was a fierce world of barbaric conduct by tro ...more
This is a great memoir if you want to understand what it was like to fight in the Pacific in WWII. It affected me very much as my reading of Norman Mailer’s The Naked and the Dead did when I first read that. I could feel the pain—the dirt or worse yet on Peleliu the coral one couldn’t dig into—the bad food and dirty water, dirty and wet clothes, the fear. It’s painful to read though and if you won’t want to know the gory details faced by young men barely out of school and inexperienced with the ...more
A.L. Sowards
This might be the best memoir I’ve ever read. I wouldn’t recommend it to everyone, because war is very, very ugly, and Sledge doesn’t sugarcoat it. The book follows him through training, then to the Pacific outpost of Pavuvu, then into the battlefields of Peleliu and Okinawa. Warning: this review includes some spoilers. But it’s a first-hand account, so obviously Sledge survived, or he wouldn’t have written the book. The review is also long because the book gave me lots to think about.

Imagine yo
'Aussie Rick'

Not much can be added to the previous reviews of this excellent book. I have read many fine books covering the Pacific campaign during WW2 and so many referred to this book that I had to find a copy for myself. It was well worth the time and effort. I have since bought a copy for a friend here in Australia and he also ranks it in his top 10 military history books.

The author offers an insight into what its like to be in combat rarely found in most books nowadays. This is an honest, at times sad
A memoir of a soldier of one of the finest and most famous elite fighting divisions of the second World War, the Marine 1st Division, during the Peleliu and Okinawa campaigns. They forged a bond that time would never erase. They were brothers.

I don't need to add anything to the other reviews of my fellow Goodreads members. This book should be on everybody's list.

Instead, I want to highlight a few sentences from the book that in my mind capture the book as a whole:

On the chances of survival and k
carl  theaker
Readable! was my initial impression. On my way to the airport I selected ‘With the Old Breed’ from the to-read pile. Knowing history books can be chewy, I had a bit of apprehension till I began reading on the 2 hour flight to Atlanta. I couldn’t put it down. Sledge tells a flowing tale from an enlisted Infantryman’s perspective, a modest, down to earth, or perhaps I should say corral reef, view of the war.

I almost immediately took the return flight so I could finish the book, but since my sist
Peter N.
A great read. Straight forward, not overly sentimental or harsh. Just a man who survived two of the worst battles in the Pacific telling us what happened. As I read it two things struck me. First, the invasion of Japan would have been the most costly battle in the history of mankind. There are problems with dropping the atomic bomb. After Nagasaki and Hiroshima the world was never the same. And as a Christian I am adamantly opposed to civilian deaths. But reading this book one begins to realize ...more
Apr 12, 2012 Mike rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mike by:
If you only read 1 book on fighting in the Pacific Theatre in WWII, this should be the one. With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa is the classic story of modern ground combat and amphibious warfare. It is so good because E.B. Sledge does not go in for drama, he tells a straightforward story of tragedy and bravery. He explains clearly where he knows what is going on and also explains what he was thinking when it was SNAFU. He covers his first campaign at Peleliu and then his second campaign ...more
Firsthand account of a Marine in the Pacific during World War II, Sledge's book is devastatingly unflinching in its examination of close quarters combat against a fearless and dedicated enemy. What did I learn from this book? Using nuclear weapons on Japan was not wrong but overdue.
When E.B. Sledge wrote down thoughts, feelings and notes and tucked them in his small copy of The New Testament that he carried, he didn't intend them for the public at large, only for his family. Fortunately for us, this memoir was made public and I found it to be an moving account of one mans journey through his time as a Marine and his experiences of two brutal battles, Peleliu and Okinawa.

Just a bit of background, I have read quite a few books on WWII but they have been mostly historical, po
This is without doubt one of the best first-hand-accounts i've ever read about the war in the pacific during world war two.

A book that you just cant put down,will stop in your memory long after reading it.If you want to read about the true horror's of war then this book is a must read.

A truly epic read.
Lady Jane
Prompted to read With the Old Breed by watching HBO's The Pacific, I was unprepared for Sledge's unflinching, simple honesty in reporting and processing his WWII experiences as a Marine infantryman. Sledge discusses not only the battles of Peleliu and Okinawa, but the transition from being a sensitive young man to becoming a hardened, battle-weary veteran. His descriptions provide insight into these battles, and war in general, that have so far escaped more graphic, visual mediums--including The ...more
Brutal, raw, and honest. This is a guy with an eye for horrifying details, the little things I found a surprise to read. I like to understand people and this left the door wide open for me to walk through and observe a WW2 Pacific grunt's experience and feelings. There were more than a few scenes leaving a strong impression on me...more like a few horrifying images I cannot forget. He talks about battle fatigue..walking that line between "cracking up" and maintaining; his description is apt and ...more
Patrick McCoy
E.B. Sledge's account of his tour of duty with the 5th Marines in WWII, With The Old Breed is the second account of the Pacific theater that I have read. It is also one of the primary source materials for HBO's compelling miniseries The Pacific. Sledge's account is full of colorful accounts of his experience of WWII, much like John Leckie's book (another primary source for The Pacific) Helmet For My Pillow. I think what sets Sledge's account apart from others like it are his honest and thoughtfu ...more
I recalled some of the eloquent phrases of politicians and newsmen about how "gallant" it is for a man to "shed his blood for his country" and "to give his life's blood as a sacrifice," and so on. The words seemed so ridiculous. Only the flies benefitted.

This is a fabulous book. It is about a marine serving in the Pacific during WWII. His description of the life of a marine in wartime is direct, brutal, and honest. You get a glimpse of what life was like in the foxholes, trying to kill and not b
Jacqueline Tao
"Boy, I'd pity any Jap that had all that shrapnel flying around him," murmured one of my more thoughtful buddies.
"Yeah, it'll tear their asses up all right. But don't forget they're gonna be throwing stuff at you as fast as they can," said the mortar sergeant.
This, I realized, was the difference between war and hunting. When I survived the former, I gave up the latter.
-E.B. Slege

Recently adapted into the HBO miniseries "Band of Brothers-The Pacific", this book tells the war from the perspective
Have y'all seen the HBO miniseries, The Pacific? It's not as great as Band of Brothers but it is good. My favorite parts were Eugene Sledge's stories (I somehow dislike Leckie, but probably because of the actor hehe).

This book is his memoir and I loved every single part of it. It is as good as William Manchester's masterpiece Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War. The following may not be a review after all, it's me pouring my thoughts on this book.

A professor of biology
Sometimes we fo
One of those books that everyone needs to read - not pleasant reading and full of horrific descriptions but we owe it to what these men went through to read their story. Putting their lives at risk at a time when in Europe the war was over (at least for the second half of the book in Okinawa). It is all told in such an open and personal way which makes it something different from other war memoirs and a compelling read. Also shows the fanaticism of the Japanese troops and provides essential back ...more
Mark Mortensen
I am always drawn to historical accounts of the Marine Corps 5th Regiment from WWI to present. The best writings are usually through first hand accounts. E. B. Sledge served in 3/5 during WWII and managed to survive his entire tour without injury. Like a true Marine, Sledge possessed gifts and talents beyond fighting. Sledge kept a diary of information and when the war was over he put his skills to work and wrote a very fine piece full of emotion and personal endeavor. The book transcends WWII a ...more
Jason Schneeberger
After seeing this book top nearly every list of "Best WWII Books", I had to check it out. I don't think I could ever properly put into the words the things you read about in this book; it is something that you need to read for yourself. The sheer horror and hell on earth that author Eugene Sledge and his comrades went through will shock you beyond anything imaginable. I was left in awe that anyone could go through such incredible hell and live to tell about it. Don't listen to my thoughts though ...more
Courtney Umlauf
From the introduction by Paul Fussell
One cause of this book's distinction is that its author is not an author. Sledge wrote this memoir less for strangers than to tell his own family what his war had been like. It was his wife who persuaded him to submit it to a publisher. The book is devoid of the literary expediencies and suavity's that may occasion skepticism or disgust in more artistically self-conscious war memoirs. Sledge is so little an author in the pejorative sense that his eye seems
John and Kris
E.B. Sledge’s With The Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa is absolutely excellent. I was a bit hesitant after my Dad recommended it, for he claims anything involving the U.S. Marine Corps is top-notch, but I was taken immediately with Sledge’s cool narration, which at times bothered: For how can you go from brutal Japanese-inflicted mutilations on young Marines and then two sentences later write about rear-echelon souvenir hunters?

As he reflects on the Japanese resistance at Peleliu and his exact
Chad Bearden
Pacific theater veteran and author E.B. Sledge gives such a wide-eyed and earnest account of his combat experience in two of the worst battles of WWII, that his hyperbolic language almost threatens to undermine the impact of his story. But then a funny thing happens: you realize that there is so much respect and honesty in his memories, that hyperbolic though it may be, it all probably happened and felt exactly the way he records it.

Each time he describes a war-blasted landscape and claims its t
Gage Mcnally
With the old breed by Eugene B. Sledge is about his experience in world war two.Eugene chose to join the Marines because he thought it would be heroic and he wanted to do it for his country but when he got off the boat at Peleliu it was different,everything he learned had to be put to the test and now everything that the higher ranks told him came into perspective.He now had two objectives;to complete his mission and to survive.No matter where he went he did not feel safe and he could have been ...more
Until this book, I had not read any personal accounts of war other than Pres. Theodore Roosevelt's account of his charge up San Juan Hill. But this books shows the true face of war as only an average grunt stuck living every day in the trenches can tell it. There are very few boisterous adjectives or adverbs in this work. Instead, the narrative tells about the war with little passion (in a glorious or vain sense), which makes it all the more remarkable and all the more real. You almost feel as i ...more
With the Old Breed, by Eugene Sledge, is the first book I've read since joining Goodreads that made me wish I could give a book a six star rating. A memoir of Sledge's World War II service with the United States Marine Corps in the Pacific, With the Old Breed is widely viewed as one of the best first-hand accounts of the Pacific War and was one of two books that formed the basis for the HBO miniseries The Pacific.

And no wonder. Published only in 1981, With the Old Breed is clearly a labour of lo
Kathleen Gilroy
I have been fascinated by the HBO series on the Pacific and wanted to read the source material behind it. This is an amazingly detailed account of the battles of Peleliu and Okinawa told from the point of view of a Marine mortar man who also happened to be a brilliant observer and writer. Eugene Sledge was slated for officer's school but dropped out and enlisted in the Marine infantry. The HBO movie stays very close to his narrative (he was one of three writers on whom the story was based). So w ...more
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Eugene Bondurant Sledge (November 4, 1923 – March 3, 2001) was a United States Marine, university professor, and author. His 1981 memoir With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa chronicled his combat experiences during World War II and was subsequently used as source material for Ken Burns's PBS documentary, The War, as well as the HBO miniseries The Pacific, in which he is portrayed by Joseph M ...more
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“The Japanese fought to win - it was a savage, brutal, inhumane, exhausting and dirty business. Our commanders knew that if we were to win and survive, we must be trained realistically for it whether we liked it or not. In the post-war years, the U.S. Marine Corps came in for a great deal of undeserved criticism in my opinion, from well-meaning persons who did not comprehend the magnitude of stress and horror that combat can be. The technology that developed the rifle barrel, the machine gun and high explosive shells has turned war into prolonged, subhuman slaughter. Men must be trained realistically if they are to survive it without breaking, mentally and physically.” 39 likes
“Until the millennium arrives and countries cease trying to enslave others, it will be necessary to accept one's responsibilities and be willing to make sacrifices for one's country - as my comrades did. As the troops used to say, "If the country is good enough to live in, it's good enough to fight for." With privilege goes responsibility.” 34 likes
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