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1942: The Year That Tried Men's Souls

4.17  ·  Rating Details ·  264 Ratings  ·  39 Reviews
From the author of Forrest Gump and A Storm in Flanders comes a riveting chronicle of America's most critical hour. On December 6, 1941, an unexpected attack on American territory pulled an unprepared country into a terrifying new brand of warfare. Novelist and popular historian Winston Groom vividly re-creates the story of America's first year in World War II. To the gene ...more
Paperback, 480 pages
Published April 3rd 2006 by Grove Press (first published 2005)
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Jill Hutchinson
This is a very informative book and I would recommend it to any reader of WWII history......unless you are a serious student of WWII. If so, you will find nothing new here but even with that said, the author includes eye-witness reports and some little known trivia that will hold your attention.

The majority of the book is set in the Pacific theater since the US was losing the war to the Japanese during this early period. The author concentrates much of the narrative on the Battle of Guadalcanal
Bruce Sorkin
Aug 18, 2013 Bruce Sorkin rated it it was amazing
Very readable. Groom really has the creative nonfiction genre down. It's well documented (and I've flagged 3 books to read) but flows like a novel.

The focus is between Pearl Harbor and early 1943. But Groom provides good prologue and epilogue to keep the context.

I've always focused on the Germans in WWII. The Japanese were enemies but until this book I did not realize what kind of enemy. Growing up in the 60 s there was already this sense that the Japanese were just polite efficient and maybe
Aug 03, 2011 Edward rated it liked it
Winston Groom (author of "Forest Gump") provides a narrative history of the year 1942, after a brief outline of the events leading up to WWII. He takes you through the lows (Pearl Harbor, Corregidor, Bataan) and through the highs (Battle of Midway), providing enough details to let you understand the key events in that extraordinary year. The book is easy reading - he provides enough details of key events and battles to keep you interested without getting bogged down in any one event. He accompli ...more
Sep 03, 2012 James rated it it was amazing
This is an excellent book. I expected no less from Winston Groom and I was not disappointed. I cannot recall a book which packs so much into so little. One could read this one very readable book and walk away with a fairly good understanding of World War II. This was certainly one of the most fateful years in American history and Groom gets the most out of it. Highly recommended.
Aug 15, 2009 Martin rated it liked it
Vary good history of a pivotal year in world history. Well researched, footnoted, and balanced with anecdotal insight that make a good history book read like fiction.
Oct 29, 2016 Jim rated it it was amazing
Really shows how 1942 was such as important year in the war effort. Groom crafts the year in a way you want the read to continue! Will admit I like Winston Groom as an author and this book is a fine, fine read.
Jeanie Wallenstein
Jan 14, 2017 Jeanie Wallenstein rated it it was amazing
Interesting view of the world when we were losing WWII.
Jun 16, 2013 Curtiss rated it it was amazing
Shelves: military-history
“1942” is a very-readable military history book, featuring Winston Groom’s insightful perspective on "The Year That Tried Men's Souls," especially those of the men of the 1st Marine Division at Guadalcanal from August through November of that fateful year.

Throughout his narrative, Groom includes numerous anecdotes about the activities of a variety of colorful characters whom, despite my own voracious reading about WWII, I have never read about before. These include: Agent “Cynthia” the divorced
Matthew Dambro
Oct 02, 2016 Matthew Dambro rated it liked it
A very basic introduction to World War II. Some minor errors were noticed, but it was well written. The research left much to be desired but Groom is a novelist, not a historian. The focus is the PTO. The Russian front gets almost no coverage, but this book was aimed at an American audience.
Feb 27, 2009 julia rated it really liked it
I found this a fascinating history of WWII. It focused, as you might guess, on the year 1942, when America finally joined the war effort. It begins slightly before 1942 with an introduction of how the war began, and then comes into focus with the events at Pearl Harbor. The author spends some time with the American forces joining with Britain in fighting off the Nazis in Europe, but spends most of tje book is spent where America spent most of its men--in the Pacific fighting the Japanese. The bo ...more
Aug 16, 2012 David rated it it was ok
A decent "popular" World War II history book that focuses on the pivotal year of 1942. The book is written by the same author as Forrest Gump, so it is easy to read. I would say it would be a good book for someone who wants to know a little more about World War II history without going into too much depth. I was happy to see the story of my Grandpa's unit mentioned. However, I believe the author could have written a much better book by focusing on all of the combatants in World War II, not just ...more
Jan 22, 2015 Michelle rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I found the book fascinating to read. The descriptions of the naval battles that we lost ships in were riveting. [While reading about these our press was blathering about how many soldiers were lost in the years of fighting in Iraq and Afghanistan when we lost that many with the sinking of ONE ship in 1942. And we lost quite a few.]
Also the descriptions of the hardships of the Marines deployed without relief, how they had to hunker down in ways they had not trained for and persevered until the r
Jan 28, 2016 Judy rated it it was amazing
There's always something new in every book I read about WWII. In this one I found out that the ship we travelled on to Japan in 1952, the President Wilson, was used to help evacuate some of the Marines from Guadalcanal.

Also Gen Eichelberger looked all over Tokyo after the war to find Hirohito's white horse so he could present it to MacArthur. No luck.

Interesting details about Malinta Tunnel on Corregador. I have a photo of my father standing by the entrance right after the war.

I didn't know that
Jun 03, 2008 aj rated it it was amazing
This is written by the author of Forrest Gump. It's an amazingly enjoyable read even though it packs a ton of historical information into each chapter. It focuses mainly on America's struggles with Japan on the Pacific, weaving strategic and logistical facts in with personal human stories in a very elegant way. It is from the US perspective, but it's a very balanced account of that year.

I found the subject matter to be very relevant in its stark contrasts to how we view war and military today. T
Nov 12, 2010 Catherine rated it really liked it
This book shows just how incredible it is that we ended up winning WWII, especially in the Pacific. Easy to read, quick, with fascinating stories like the spy Cynthia (in the European theater), High Pockets (in the Philippines), and some beautiful poetry by a soldier who died in the POW camp just following the Bataan Death March. And Groom wisely overlaps with 1941 and getting us into the war with Pearl Harbor and then with 1943 so you see the direction things were going. It helps emphasize how ...more
Oct 08, 2013 Gerry rated it it was amazing
The book covers the year 1942 as the title suggests. Groom is simply an amazing author who is also the author of the likely more famed "Forrest Gump". In this work he follows both the PTO and ETO during this the most trying year of the Second World War for the USA and her Allies. All sources of battles and information is backed up with significant notes of primary sources. For a person who is not a historian (as I am not a historian) but enjoys learning of the struggles of the early years for Am ...more
Jun 14, 2009 Brian rated it liked it
While this book was quite informative, it had a few problems. Firstly, the book focuses on the battle of Guadalcanal and the fighting in the Pacific to the exclusion of almost everything else. Only token attention is paid to the Battle of the Atlantic, the invasion of North Africa and the fighting in the China-Burma-India area. Secondly, I noticed a few factual errors. For example, on page 404 the author twice refers to the Doolittle raiders flying B-24s, when they actually flew B-25s. Overall, ...more
Andrew Parnell
Dec 04, 2015 Andrew Parnell rated it it was ok
Really disappointing to read a well written book that flowed really well, about such great subject matter. Only to get such a slanted view of the events of 1942. All that happened that year,such as Russia being held in a stranglehold at Stalingrad, and the British and Commonwealth forces in North Africa. And the author highlighted just the Pacific theatre of the war.
At least a few chapters could be given to the the other combatants of this titanic death struggle.
Ken Horne
May 26, 2014 Ken Horne rated it liked it
Being a fan of the Forest Gump story, this book caught my eye because of its author. I enjoyed the book but found very little new information. The author makes little effort to disguise his personal bias - which can, at times, distract from the story. Overall, however, I am happy to have read it and enjoyed finishing it up over Memorial Day weekend as we remember those who died for the freedoms that are enjoyed across the western world today.
Sep 05, 2014 Becky rated it really liked it
A very well-written account of the events leading up to the attack of Pearl Harbor (December 7, 1941) and the subsequent year, 1942. With almost all of the US Pacific Fleet destroyed, we were at a decided disadvantage against the Japanese, at first. 1942 was the year of a humiliating first, the first time the United States surrendered to an enemy force. Accounts of the Bataan March showed the fortitude of the American soldiers. I would recommend this book, extremely readable.
Dec 22, 2010 Roger rated it really liked it
A review of the early stages of WWII. Based on the book, almost all the action was in the Pacific Theatre of the war. Many great stories and updates on a lot of information previously covered in other books and movies on WWII. Like the author's easy reading style and his use of individual stories to add flavor to the book. Overall-highly recommend this book and would read other books written by Mr. Groom.
Feb 09, 2010 Salaryman63 rated it it was amazing
Just completed reading this for the second time. Its a marvelous book. We often take for granted just how grim things seemed in 1941-42. This book focuses on the American experience in the Pacific but also weaves a very insightful profile of the national psyche. I must have-even for those not into WWII history.
Kater Cheek
Sep 10, 2009 Kater Cheek rated it really liked it
It's rare that a book this informative is also readable. Even with a scant high-school knowledge of WW2, I was able to follow along and get swept up in the action.

Most of the book deals with the US naval battles in the Pacific arena. The author touches on North Africa as well, but merely mentions the European theater.
Jul 09, 2015 Kristen rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Kristen by: Dad
Shelves: world-war-2
I can't say enough how much I enjoyed this book. I knew about Pearl Harbor and the Doolittle Raid, but that was the extent of my knowledge of 1942 in the Pacific. The writing was superb and easy to follow. It's a miracle that we won WWII. The men of WWII are so inspiring and had such a love of country. I'm so grateful to them and for our freedoms.
Jan 28, 2009 Rod rated it liked it
Groom's an excellent writer, but his choice of topic hamstrings him somewhat. He seems to focus on the Solomons Campaign, possibly because most of the action took place during his year of choice.

Aug 21, 2007 Bob rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: History Buffs
Shelves: history
A well written history of the first full year of the United State's entry into WWII. Actually this is a good book for people who compare WWII with our invasion of Iraq. A lesson or two could be learned. You might recognize the author as the same person who wrote Forrest Gump.
Marvin Watts
Feb 27, 2015 Marvin Watts rated it it was amazing
Winston did a really good job in giving the reader a timeline of what happened. Very well researched. Using Pearl Harbor as the starting point really helped readers better understand what happened during the rest of the year.

I would recommend adding this book to your WWII collection.
Mary Louise Hartman
Apr 19, 2008 Mary Louise Hartman rated it it was amazing
Required reading for anyone who takes our country and our greatest generation for granted. The battle in the Pacific immediately after WWII was a terrible ordeal fought by very young men who had to learn as they went blindly into battle.
Aug 17, 2014 Srcarson rated it really liked it
While this is a historical book about one single year in U.S. and World History, 1942, I had no idea what a critical year it was for the world, and especially the U.S. I learned a lot and enjoyed the book.
Aug 03, 2011 Richard rated it really liked it
Excellent concise history of United States actions in WW2 in the year 1942; now all we need is 1943, 44, and 45.
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Winston Groom is an American novelist and non-fiction writer, best known for his book Forrest Gump, which was adapted into a film in 1994. Groom was born in Washington, D.C., but grew up in Mobile, Alabama where he attended University Military School (now known as UMS-Wright Preparatory School). He attended the University of Alabama, where he was a member of Delta Tau Delta and the Army ROTC, and ...more
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