Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War” as Want to Read:
Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War

4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  3,318 ratings  ·  126 reviews
1981 Pulitzer Prize for Nonfiction Finalist

In this intensely powerful memoir, America's preeminent biographer-historian, who has written so brilliantly about World War II in his acclaimed lives of General Douglas MacArthur (American Caesar) and Winston Churchill (The Last Lion), looks back at his own early life. He offers an unrivaled firsthand account of World War II in
...more
Audiocd, 200 pages
Published March 1st 2007 by Blackstone Audio Inc. (first published 1979)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Goodbye, Darkness, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Goodbye, Darkness

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
M. D.  Hudson
Here you have a tight, well-wrought first-hand account of a Marine’s experience at the Battle of Okinawa rendered in about 40 pages scattered throughout a nearly-400 page book. But it might be worth it, depending on your interest in the subject. When Manchester sticks to events that actually happened, he is taut and has a knack for turning a good descriptive phrase. As most combat veterans are, Manchester is self-deprecatory, but at his best, this doesn’t seem forced or inauthentic. For instance ...more
Gayle
After reading Laura Hillenbrand’s Unbroken, the story of Olympic runner Louis Zamperini’s experiences as a POW in Japan during WWII, I realized that my education about that war was sadly lacking when it comes to the Pacific theatre. I was not certain why, considering my total fascination with that era that I concentrated on the war in Europe. After all, I had a cousin who was killed in Okinawa, and a brother-in-law who served there shortly after the war. I hate to admit it, but Manchester’s expl ...more
Wanda
Except for the part about Okinawa I would have given this a "0." Just terrible--inaccuracy after inaccuracy on every page. It's inconceivable to me that this man is a historian. But more than that, it is filled with fabricated incidents, recounted in great detail, as if the author had participated in them. It's only in a note at the end of the book that the reader learns that the author did not serve on Tarawa, Saipan, Guam, Peleliu, or Iwo Jima. He only served on Okinawa--and that's more than e ...more
Erik Graff
Dec 09, 2012 Erik Graff rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: WWII vets & fans
Recommended to Erik by: no one
Shelves: biography
I am a sucker for emotional manipulation. I cry when I'm supposed to at movies or in the course of novels, tearing up at even the foreshadowing of tragedy or selfless nobility. It works too for the kinds of histories Manchester has written of the United States of America: his books on MacArthur, on social history, on Kennedy, on--as here--himself. He even, and this is more remarkable as I do not laugh so easily as I weep, pulls me into his sense of irony, of humor.

This book as at once a history
...more
Kelly
Aug 14, 2012 Kelly rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: absolutely everyone
I just lost a review of this book which I spent 2 hours working on; I put more effort into reviewing this book than I have for any other book, because "Goodbye, Darkness" is in my top 5 "best books of all time." I'm not up to recreating the whole thing right now, but this book is truly incredible. Manchester is an excellent writer whose work is always intelligent while remaining utterly accessible, and who epitomizes the writing dictum "show, don't tell" so well, particularly here, it literally ...more
Maria Mazzenga

A literary and honest memoir of Manchester's service in the Pacific during WWII.


Manchester is a weird guy--he's got a penchant for talking about feces and sex--but somehow this tendency is what raises this book above Band of Brothers level hackdom. For example, he recounts a moment where the Japanese and the Americans are squaring off against each other on Tarawa or some other godforsaken Pacific island; two dogs run out to the middle of the battlefield and start mating. Both sets of soldiers ar
...more
Peter
I'm not a war buff- far from it. But this highly personal memoir from Churchill and MacArthur's biographer is simply one of the greatest books I have ever read. It describes in often unpleasant detail the author's experience fighting in the Pacific Theater during WWII, from Tarawa to Okinawa. If war is a necessary evil in the world, reading this novel should be necessary reading. I bought a second copy so I will always have one to loan.
Todd
Goodbye, Darkness is a memoir of a Marine's journey through the Pacific, once during World War II and again in the late 1970's as a journalist and historian.

It is a wonderfully-written book which shows the madness of war, the ineptitude of mid-level military leadership, and the bond that men in combat forge.

This bond is a central theme that connects the author to his father -- a Marine who fought in World War I -- as well as to his buddies on the Pacific battlefields that led to the downfall of
...more
T-bone
This book was borderline deceitful. Only at the very end does the author reveal that he only fought at Okinawa. He should have just written a memoir about Okinawa and cut the unsourced 350 page history of the entire Pacific campaign in which he implied he participated in every battle. When he did discuss his direct experiences it was good. I particularly enjoyed the account of his failed attempts to lose his virginity and the description of the first time he killed someone which opened the book. ...more
James
Somewhat overwrought in places, and some of the ideas presented have become truisms to such an extent that they're becoming cliched - e.g. the revelation that people fight for their fellow soldiers, Marines, sailors, or airmen, rather than for the flag, Mom and apple pie. Still, Manchester was an excellent historian, and this is based on his own experiences as a young Marine in some of the worst of the fighting aginst Japan in the Pacific. For anyone interested in an intensely personal narrative ...more
Geo Forman
A surprisingly good memoir. I laughed out loud several time as the author described his adolescence but the majority of the book was spent telling how the author relived his Pacific WWII life and expelled the ghosts he had carried with him for 40 years. The author writes exceptionally well which makes this such an enjoyable memoir. He intersperses his memories of each battle with the his experiences as he travels from site to site, often met with gov't officials, as he is, by then, a well known ...more
Doug Mader
Wondering and unfocused best describes this book. The author admits to as much in his notes at the end of the book. This isn't a bad thing entirely, but there are moments where I found myself wondering if he was going to get back on track within the next 10 pages of the book. The book is a cathartic work for Manchester, which explains the wandering nature. It's his purge of emotion that actually makes the book worth reading; he pulls no punches and rounds no rough edges. You get an excellent por ...more
Matt
Wow...moving, horrifying and humorous account of Marines experiences in the South Pacific during WWII. He provides a frank, and eloquent account of his life leading up to and during his time with the Marines. This is also mixed with his experience of going back to the shores that he fought on 30 years later. then
Charlie Newfell
Powerful memoir of a marine's experiences in the South Pacific. He revisits the battlefields 35 years after the events (written in the late 70's). The war has stayed with him all of those years. The story of the experiences will stay with you.
Song
This is a personal memoir for the hellish campaigns on those islands in Pacific Ocean from Guadalcanal to Okinawa, when the author joined the Marines and fought with his squad. Good to read and understand what really happened to soldiers in the WWII Pacific battlefield. It's about courage, justice and patriot.

The author wrote the history like it is alive, with great writing skills and honesty. That really caught me and kept me reading from the beginning to the end without stop.

Recommend this bo
...more
Michael David Cobb
William Manchester sounds to be the source of much of today's ambivalent confusion about war, and is writing a fact filled, yet soppy emotional memoir / history of compelling stuff. Writing in 1978 or thereabouts, he illustrates perfectly a Me Generation dream sequence which is absent the conviction of necessity. Manchester writes as if, and clearly you can hear it in his articulation, the war was a great revelation to him and thus to everyone. In this regard he displays a kind of shocked naivet ...more
David Hill
Manchester visits Pacific battlefields 30+ years afterwards in an attempt to quiet his demons. Some places were his first visits, some were places he'd been before after the fighting was complete, and some were scenes of his own battles. He weaves together three stories - his modern travels, his travels as a marine, and the grand story of the Pacific war.

On the back cover of my edition, Shirer called it "the most moving memoir of combat in World War II that I have read". Since its publication, m
...more
Gary
Apr 30, 2010 Gary rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: WWII Pacific theater history buffs, Marines, veterans
William Manchester’s Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War is fantastic. Manchester, who served as a Marine sergeant in combat on several islands in the Pacific “island hopping campaign,” including Guadalcanal and Okinawa, as a middle-aged survivor of the vicious fighting makes a trip back to the places where he engaged in mortal combat with the troops of “Dai Nippon” – The Imperial Japanese Empire. He effortlessly weaves together his combat experiences with the larger context of the Pa ...more
Steve Smits
William Manchester, one of the premier writers of the post-war era, was a combat Marine in the Pacific theater. He, along with other members of his unit, was among the comparatively few college students, many from Ivy league schools, who served as enlisted soldiers in the Marines.

Manchester writes a deeply moving memoir of his experiences. He describes the lives of common soldiers who were part of the island-hopping campaigns from Guadalcanal through Okinawa. (He states in the afterword that he
...more
Steve Woods
This is a very personal memoir and I really enjoyed it. Not because it was the best account of fighting in the Pacific I have read or because it was good history but because it was for me, one old soldier sitting with another and hearing his account of what it was like for him. Like many of us who have seen combat, Manchester in his later years was troubled by dreams, and again like many of us he felt that returning to the site of his experiences would somehow help, to complete things, to tie up ...more
Larry
William Manchester was a noted newspaper reporter, biographer and historian. Yet, in the late 1970s he's disturbed by dreams of his younger self as a Marine sergeant in WWII. What disturbs Manchester is not so much reliving combat experiences, as a sense that the young sergeant is disappointed in the soft, chubby sedate man of letters he has become. It's as if the young sergeant is asking what have you done for the past 30 years to make this war time experience worthwhile?

So, Manchester sets out
...more
David B
Labeling this book as a memoir is a bit misleading. It is more an old man's travelogue as William Manchester visits WWII battlegrounds in order to come to terms with his experiences as a combat Marine in the Pacific War. There is a lot of description of these sites as they appeared at the time of writing and quite a bit about the local lifestyle. Some of this is interesting and all of it is well-written, but it is not what brought me to the book in the first place.

Manchester's accounts of life o
...more
Harry
This is a beautifully conceived and written book about re-integrating and healing the wounds of war. Against the backdrop of the author's personal account of his pilgrimage to the islands of the Pacific theatre of World War Two, a parallel story emerges. That story contains an excellent account of the Pacific War and an accounting of the troops that fought that war, and their mindset and camaraderie of that era.
Disturbing memories of his war come late in life, over thirty years after V-J Day. An
...more
Kit Fox
William Manchester is my friend Carl's favorite historian of all time, so I've always felt a bit remiss that I've never checked him out. And, thankfully, he's well represented at the Wilmington public library. Gritty, tragic, and ponderous, here's the straight dirt from an ex-marine who saw action in the Pacific theater during WWII and actually survived the battle of Okinawa. Being a man of his time and generation, Manchester doesn't hold back on his use of Japanese racial epithets--"jap" or "ni ...more
Francis Gahren
In this intensely powerful memoir, America's preeminent biographer-historian, who has written so brilliantly about World War II in his acclaimed lives of General Douglas MacArthur (American Caesar) and Winston Churchill (The Last Lion), looks back at his own early life and offers an unrivaled firsthand account of World War II in the Pacific, of what it looked like, sounded like, smelled like, and, most of all, what it felt like to one who underwent all but the ultimate of its experiences.

In typ
...more
Nick Johnson
William Manchester will be more familiar to most history enthusiasts as the author of several seminal volumes concerning the history of the 20th Century. "American Caesar", his magnum opus on the life of Douglas MacArthur is one of my favourites.

This is something of a gear change for Manchester, a tight volume describing his life as a young US Marine in the Pacific War and his trip thirty years later to all the key sites of the War. He took this trip to exorcise the nightmares he was having at
...more
Gerry
This author is nothing short of brilliant in his previous work on General MacArthur "American Caesar". In this book he is clearly trying to ward off the personal demons that had haunted him from the time of his being wounded and finished with war during the Battle for Okinawa. What is interesting is he follows the Second World War in the Pacific by chronologically attending to each major battlefield/island to which American Marines and Army service men fought. With other well written authors of ...more
Peter
William Manchester was among the most popular biographers and historians of the 20th century. His trilogy on Winston Churchill is wonderful, his history of the Age of Exploration (A World Lit Only by Fire) is stirring, and this memoir of his service as a U. S. Marine Sergeant on the Pacific islands in 1944 is a great read. You won’t find scholarly footnotes in most Manchester books, but you will find beautifully crafted stories of his subjects—stories that make them breathe.

This 1980 memoir is a
...more
Sharon
It wasn't until I finished this book that I fully appreciated how woefully inadequate was my knowledge of the War in the Pacific. I couldn't have identified the islands involved, or even the officers involved until I finished this book. The descriptions of fatalities, "....(y)ou tripped over strings of viscera fifteen feet long..."; and "...Often the only way to distinguish between Japanese and Marine dead was by the legs; Marines wore canvas leggings and Nips khaki puttees."

The author speaks fr
...more
S.
GOODBYE, DARKNESS deserves its legendary reputation of WW2Pacific memoirs. Its tall, ectomorphic New England scion narrator turns down OCS and battles as a Marine across the Pacific. His is a narrative filled with sexual kinks but also stern unflinching reality. The action is intense and searing, and the level of detail that of a personal observer.

This book is criticized because it falls between history and memoir; the author implies he was present at more engagements than he really was. However
...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Goodbye, Darkness 4 43 Jun 11, 2014 06:09AM  
  • Islands of the Damned: A Marine at War in the Pacific
  • Brotherhood of Heroes: The Marines at Peleliu, 1944--The Bloodiest Battle of the Pacific War
  • Okinawa: The Last Battle of World War II
  • In Deadly Combat: A German Soldier's Memoir of the Eastern Front (Modern War Studies (Paper)
  • Company Commander: The Classic Infantry Memoir of World War II
  • If You Survive: From Normandy to the Battle of the Bulge to the End of World War II, One American Officer's Riveting True Story
  • The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy's Finest Hour
  • Guadalcanal Diary
  • Parachute Infantry: An American Paratrooper's Memoir of D-Day and the Fall of the Third Reich
  • With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa
  • Panzer Commander: The Memoirs of Colonel Hans von Luck
  • The Forgotten Soldier
  • Retribution: The Battle for Japan, 1944-45
  • Utmost Savagery: The Three Days of Tarawa
  • Lost Victories: The War Memoirs of Hilter's Most Brilliant General
  • The Two-Ocean War
  • One Square Mile of Hell: The Battle for Tarawa
  • Currahee!: A Screaming Eagle at Normandy
11789
William Raymond Manchester was an American author and biographer, notable as the bestselling author of 18 books that have been translated into 20 languages.He was awarded the National Humanities Medal and the Abraham Lincoln Literary Award.
More about William R. Manchester...
A World Lit Only by Fire American Caesar: Douglas MacArthur 1880-1964 The Last Lion 1: Visions of Glory 1874-1932 The Last Lion 2: Winston Spencer Churchill Alone, 1932-40 The Death of a President: November 1963

Share This Book