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Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War
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Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War

4.18  ·  Rating details ·  4,579 Ratings  ·  163 Reviews
In this powerful memoir, America's preeminent biographer-historian, who's written so brilliantly about WWII in his acclaimed lives of General Douglas MacArthur (American Caesar) & Winston Churchill (The Last Lion), looks back at his own early life & offers a 1sthand account of WWII in the Pacific, of what it looked like, sounded like, smelled like & what it fel ...more
Paperback, 460 pages
Published January 1st 1982 by Dell Publishing Company (first published 1979)
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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
Wanda
May 06, 2012 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 09, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
carl  theaker
Oct 21, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww2
Manchester presents three perspectives in this look back at his days as a Marine sarge in the Pacific Theater. He gives a good overall history of events interspersed with tales of his contemporary (late 1970s) visit to the islands where he fought, which are then interspersed with memories of his adventures as an educated, young marine.

These angles make the book a good introduction to the war in the Pacific, a little of everything. Manchester was a renown historian of his day, 60s-70s, with pop
...more
Gayle
Jul 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed
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
Kelly
Aug 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
Aug 10, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

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
T. Fowler
Oct 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favourites
This book must have sat on my shelves for over ten years. I finally got around to reading it and regret
now that I had not done so sooner. I now understand why this book must be regarded as one of the classic memoirs of World War 2. The author's story is especially intriguing as he sets out to visit the major battle sites of the US Marines in the Pacific, from Guadalcanal to Okinawa, and describes how they looked long after the war ended. He then takes us back to each of these the battles and r
...more
Peter
Nov 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military
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.

Caveat

There has been
...more
Fergie
Feb 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A deeply profound, moving memoir by a WWII marine who also happened to be a fantastic, successful writer after the war. William Manchester's GOODBYE, DARKNESS: A MEMOIR OF THE PACIFIC WAR often reads like a first person account novel. It's a page turner written with respectful care and insight. Through the pages of the book, the reader sees the evolution of a naïve boy turn man. You feel for Manchester as he begins his search for peace when he goes back to the Pacific islands upon which he had f ...more
Brian Eshleman
Feb 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The fourth star borders on being awarded on an emeritus basis because I'm so fond of William Manchester's other work. The narrative could have been more straightforward. Intertwining his experiences as an older man with his memories of his fighting days tended to be distracting. Nevertheless, he is William Manchester, and his capacity to lead the reader into profundity through reflection on daily experiences remains intact.
Nooilforpacifists
Manchester could make anything readable. If only this one were true: Manchester wasn't at all those battles; he relied on newspaper and buddy accounts, but presents them all in the first person. Impossible to separate the fiction from the fact, but a damn good read.
Peter
Nov 26, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Andrew Breza
Apr 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Goodbye Darkness is simultaneously a memoir of war, an elegy to fallen comrades, and the author's attempt decades later to come to terms with what it all means. Manchester's writing is infused with a stunning disappointment with what America became in the late 20th century. Like his two-volume masterpiece The Glory and the Dream, Goodbye Darkness forces the reader to reckon with what it means to be an American.
Todd
Aug 26, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, memoir
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
Tony Ludlow
Dec 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
William Manchester was a brilliant and gifted writer and one of my favorite biographers. He was also a Marine fighting in the Pacific during WWII. It is this experience that occupies him in this memoir as he tells of his life as an active duty Marine in the 1940s and then his return trip in 1979 to the islands he fought on in an effort to exorcise the demons of that darkness from the war.

As a Marine myself, I was captivated by his experiences. As a freelance writer and lover of books, I loved r
...more
T-bone
Feb 20, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Matt
Feb 01, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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.
Corto
Excellent memoir. Rough, tough and raw. Liked it better than EB Sledge's. Though Sledge's was pretty good too...
Steve
Probably one of the most heart-felt, and authentic accounts of the Pacific War that I've ever read. The utter lethality of those last island battles really comes home.
Hans Guttmann
Feb 28, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A fine memoir of the war in the pacific.
Scottnshana
Jun 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A lot of people assail this book because of the battles he describes in it, Manchester only personally fought at Okinawa. I don't agree with this perspective; it would have been impossible to find someone who survived every engagement he describes here--Tarawa, Peleliu, etc.--to get all of them down on paper. If you could find such a person (even right after the war, when there were certainly more of them amongst us), there are few with Manchester's talent to narrate the Pacific War in this mann ...more
Francis Gahren
Apr 18, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military, nonfiction
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
Ken Childress
May 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book is more of a personal memoir than a detailed account of the battles that the author fought in. I highly recommend it to get a sense of what the combat soldier faces and the effect battle has on the combat survivors until they die.
Ralph Arnold
Jul 27, 2017 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
I had just finished this book and thought it was terrific. Then I read the American Spectator article showing that Manchester faked his heroics. He was in a Marine staff position on Okinawa during the battle. Now I wonder how honest ANY of his other books are.
Roy C
Jun 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A gripping and emotional account of Manchester's combat experiences in the Pacific in WWII. This man never wrote an off word, and this might just be his finest book. Makes you sorry for what he and his generation went through to make our world possible.
Neil Patel
Aug 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The best war memoir I've ever read, hands down.
Gary Bourke
Manchester gives a very personal and in-depth account of his role in pushing the Japanese Imperial army back, as he visits the islands he fought on during the Pacific War.
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Goodbye, Darkness 4 45 Jun 11, 2014 09:09PM  
  • 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
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  • 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
  • Panzer Commander: The Memoirs of Colonel Hans von Luck
  • In Deadly Combat: A German Soldier's Memoir of the Eastern Front
  • Guadalcanal Diary (Modern Library War)
  • China Marine: An Infantryman's Life after World War II
  • Parachute Infantry: An American Paratrooper's Memoir of D-Day and the Fall of the Third Reich
  • Helmet for My Pillow
  • The Ghost Mountain Boys: Their Epic March and the Terrifying Battle for New Guinea--The Forgotten War of the South Pacific
  • Soldat: Reflections of a German Soldier, 1936-1949 (Dell War)
  • Fire In The Sky: The Air War In The South Pacific
  • Eagle Against the Sun: The American War with Japan
  • The Lions of Iwo Jima: The Story of Combat Team 28 and the Bloodiest Battle in Marine Corps History
  • The Last Stand of the Tin Can Sailors: The Extraordinary World War II Story of the U.S. Navy's Finest Hour
  • Utmost Savagery: The Three Days of Tarawa
  • Currahee!: A Screaming Eagle at Normandy
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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 Manchester...
“A man is all the people he has been. Some recollections never die. They lie in one's subconscious, squirreled away, biding their time.” 0 likes
“At Waterloo Pierre Cambronne commanded Napoleon's Imperial Guard. When all was lost, a British officer asked him to lay down his arms. Generations of schoolboys have been taught that he replied: “The Guard dies, but never surrenders.” Actually he said: “Merde!” (“Shit!”) The French know this; a euphemism for merde is called “the word of Cambronne.” Yet children are still told that he said what they know he did not say. So it was with me. I read Kipling, not Hemingway; Rupert Brooke, not Wilfred Owen; Gone with the Wind, not Ambrose Bierce and Stephen Crane. The” 0 likes
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