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Guadalcanal Diary

(U.S. Landmark Books #55)

4.25  ·  Rating details ·  3,740 ratings  ·  132 reviews
This celebrated classic gives a soldier's-eye-view of the Guadalcanal battles--crucial to World War II, the war that continues to fascinate us all, and to military history in general. Unlike some of those on Guadalcanal in the fall of 1942, Richard Tregaskis volunteered to be there. An on-location news correspondent (at the time, one of only two on Guadalcanal), he lived a ...more
Paperback, 250 pages
Published May 30th 2000 by Modern Library (first published March 7th 1943)
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Apr 21, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww2-on-land
This is frontline reporting at it's best. Written in diary form by a reporter embedded with the Marines on Guadalcanal right from the start of the invasion, it brings you the day-to-day conditions these men faced during the difficult early days of the fight for the island. He brings all the uncertainty, tension, hopes and fear of the men to life in this masterful work, and wrote this in the weeks following his experiences, when the outcome of the war was still in the balance. What I really liked ...more
Joe Krakovsky
Jul 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I first read this book in 1967 as an seventh grader who was forced to pick out a book from the bookmobile by my mother. All I wanted to do was play that summer and I chose a "war book" out of spite. Little did I know the door that I had inadvertantly opened for myself to a brand new world. But enough about me. This book was written in a time when not only were there war time censors but also those who monitored content for things that were morally and socially acceptable for the public at large ...more
This wasn't a great book but it was an interesting read. I expected more than what I got out of it. Richard Tregaskis is a journalist who tags along with the U.S. Marines when they invade Guadalcanal during WWII. Each day he records what he sees and hears for the people back home in the U.S. Where Tregaskis succeeds is in his description of Guadalcanal and the surrounding islands. He made these exotic South Pacific islands come alive for me. Where he fails is his inability to convey the exciteme ...more
Jeffrey Payne
Aug 11, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: research-books
I found this book in my late Grandfather in-law's library -- a first edition hardcover from the forties. It sounds trite, but the effects of war, the mark it leaves on the those who fight it, is always more interesting to me than the mechanics of combat or tactics. This book gives a good historical boots-on-the-ground perspective of Guadalcanal from a theatre of the second world war that often takes a backseat to Europe given the scale of Nazi atrocities.

Shortly after I finished this book, my wi
Jun 29, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Guadalcanal--a battle that remains a milestone in the history of WWII. Along with Midway, it became a turning point in the Pacific. The author wrote of those violent days without resorting to hyperbole. It may not be the definitive book on Guadalcanal, but it is very readable.
Jeffrey Powanda
Nov 04, 2018 rated it it was ok
Shelves: wwii
A boring, repetitive slog. I don't recall why I purchased the ebook--probably because I'd read that it was a landmark in boots-on-the-ground reporting that inspired many other war reporters and novelists such as Norman Mailer and James Jones--but I didn't enjoy it. The narrative isn't compelling or immersive. I didn't feel like I was there in the jungle, experiencing what the soldiers experienced. Tregaskis's account is more detached, matter-of-fact than later reporting from the Vietnam War (see ...more
Vasile Jurca
Jan 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Richard Tregaskis is the original war reporter vérité. His accounts are a straightforward narrative of the action, without the ego puff that a khaki and Rayban-wearing modern 'war correspondent' would inject. A modern correspondent uses the word "I" much more than Tregaskis ever did. A modern correspondent will let you know if he's hot, or hungry or tired, whereas Tregasksis was solely interested in the soldier who asked to do a very tough job for his country in very tough circumstances. Brian W ...more
Nov 16, 2013 rated it really liked it
I have to say upfront that this is a book that had specially meaning to me as I read it in that my paternal grandfather fought on Guadalcanal. As a matter of fact he was in the first wave. The family, however, knows little of what he truly experienced on that island because he refused to speak of happened. (He would participate in several campaigns culminating on Peleliu where is was one of 11 Marines out of his original company to walk off the island.) There is that personal connection that mak ...more
Roger Burk
Oct 22, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is an actual diary (edited for readability) of a war correspondent who landed with the Marines on Guadalcanal on 1943. He was not shy about joining them in their expeditions and patrols, and spent a lot of time lying flat on the ground listening to Japanese bullets snap overhead, or sitting in a bunker during the Japanese Navy's regular night bombardment. The volume I read was printed the very year of the landing. It would be very interesting to read this in parallel with a modern campaign ...more
Oct 04, 2018 rated it liked it
This was an interesting, if not exceptional account of the events of the first several weeks of the battle for Guadalcanal. Richard Tregaskis gives a clear view of his experience of the battle and for a press correspondent seems to have had tremendous bravery to see things "from the front". There are some grisly pictures described in this book but seem to be done in a very deadpan manner. I suppose that is because, as Tregaskis admits, the first time he saw such scenes was a shock but he felt no ...more
Feb 24, 2013 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Military History buffs
I’m in the process of trying to get a feel for what it was like on Guadalcanal because my dad fought there with the 25th Inf Div. The 25th didn’t arrive until December of 1942 well after the Marines went in. This book covers the period July 26th until September 26th 1942 and follows the Marines through the eyes of and words of War Correspondent Richard Tregaskis. Tregaskis went in with the Marines and like the Marines slept where he could, when he could. He also got shot at regularly. The editio ...more
Mar 01, 2012 rated it really liked it
Guadalcanal Diary was originally published in 1943 while the battle for the Solomon Island group was fresh in the minds of Americans. The book was written as a memoir Richard Tregaskis, a war correspondent for International News Service, in the form of a daily journal. The book recounts the activities prior to the invasion and the first months of the battle for the islands in the Solomons. During the battle, Tregaskis lived with the Marines and went through several battles on the front lines. Tr ...more
Alifa Saadya
Sep 15, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Guadalcanal Diary is one of great classic works of World War II. Richard Tregaskis kept detailed notes from his work for the International News Service as he joined the U.S. Marines in taking Guadalcanal -- one of the most important engagements of the Pacific war. The U.S. public was eager for accounts of the battles, and Tregaskis soon produced this book (1943) -- which he worked on in a secure room provided by the Navy. It was immediately selected for the Book of the Month Club. It is clear fr ...more
Dec 24, 2007 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: warriors.
Shelves: war
This is a journalist's reporting of our first invasion in the Pacific that was also supposedly the first use of air, land and sea resources in an amphibious invasion. He lived on the island for more than a month in harsh conditions, and he took a lot of risks accompanying marines and Raiders on assaults, raids and the main invasion. He was a literature major from Harvard who signed up for the press corps at the start of the war, and was pretty tough to do it considering he was a diabetic. The bo ...more
Aug 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Unusual military memoir in that he published it as a book immediately after he returned from Guadalcanal. During the war. With names of individuals he interacted with and where they came from. The details are great and focused more on how men at war live and work than on military strategy.
I was intrigued by his size 14 shoes--he had a hard time getting replacements from the Army. Turns out his was 6 ft 7 in, especially tall for the 1940s. He also had diabetes and carried along insulin. Presumabl
Mar 01, 2014 rated it it was ok
Shelves: good-nonfiction
I'm rating this only two stars ONLY because it is not exactly a pleasant or cheerful read. It is brutal, cold, raw, and ferocious. However, its place in the canon (get it? canon?) of WWII historical documents is well-established and firmly assured.
It is one of the finest works of its kind. Nevertheless, it is somewhat dry. Not for the 'casual' reader.
Feb 16, 2012 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii-asia
A gyrene's perspective on America's first step back across the Pacific. Great battlefield reporting from a noted war correspondent. The movie's a hoot, with geezer William Bendix as a Marine!
Sep 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Candid account of the most harrowing days the Marines faced at Guadalcanal

Richard Tregaskis arrived with the Marines at Guadalcanal in July 1942, just prior the the most brutal fighting that took place between elements of the USMC and the Japanese defenders on the island.

His book offers a candid glimpse of what the Marines endured on the island. He comments on the torrid climate, bothersome pests, various ailments (he suffered from dysentery, at one point), and, of course, the intractable Japan
Jan 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Among the firsthand accounts of WWII, Guadalcanal Diary ranks up there as required reading. One thing that really sets this book apart from other works is that the word were written as the events happened as opposed to written down from memory later. This aspect gives the book a very immersive effect. YOU are on the transport heading to Guadalcanal. YOU are landing on this mysterious island, unsure of what will happen. You're enduring the endless bombing raids or the sniper fire, or suffering fr ...more
Ryan Claflin
May 22, 2018 rated it really liked it
Guadalcanal Diary is a non-fiction diary of Richard Tregaskis's experience on Guadalcanal as a news correspondent. He was a volunteer, and knew what he was getting into, but still was up to the challenge of war. Even though he was not fighting, he was living alongside the soldiers of his group and dodging gunfire along the way. At first, his squad was not supposed to go into combat on Guadalcanal at all, but since he wanted to get into some action, he joined another group with the permission of ...more
Jun 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Richard Tregaskis is best-known for this book, his first, which is a first-hand account of the first seven weeks of the Guadalcanal campaign in August/September, 1942. It is written in a detailed fashion, describing daily events and using the World War II reporting style that identified soldiers by name and hometown.

Tregaskis was one of only two war correspondents on Guadalcanal in the early days of the six-month campaign on the island and he was often involved in attacks and forward patrols. A
Apr 30, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Go into this book understanding it is a product of its time. Guadalcanal Diary was published in the middle of World War II and shows in how the story is told. The book is focused on the Americans who fought in the battle and tells the story of their experiences on the ground rather than the larger strategic picture.

Soldiers described by the author seem like the characters you've seen in old war movies: they all call each other "Mac" while chomping on cigars while writing letters to their "best
Dec 25, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Guadalcanal Diary was written by and experienced by the author, Richard Tregaskis, who accompanied the first wave of marines to land on Guadalcanal in fall of 1942, America's first counterattack intended to dislodge the Japanese from conquered territory. He was a non-combatant war correspondant who experienced first hand the initial relative calm, the ferocious close quarters fighting, and the brutal carnage that is military combat. He puts personal spins on the day to day activities as well as ...more
Joe Pinney
Jun 18, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
What a magnificent book! As a World War II enthusiast, I’m a bit surprised that it took me so long to read this classic, but better late than never! And what a read! Richard Tregaskis really puts you right there with him in the middle of the action, and his day-by-day descriptions of the military campaign that turned the tide in the Pacific War in favor of the Allies are absolutely vivid and unforgettable. On top of it, reading about Tregaskis himself and his experiences after the Guadalcanal ca ...more
Dec 29, 2018 rated it really liked it
You've seen the John Wayne movie. This is the book on which the movie was made. The stories are very close. Tregaskis was a journalist embedded (not a word used then) with Marines in the worst fighting of Quadacanal. When the battle was over, he boarded a transport and, on the way back to the states, wrote this from his notes taken from interviews with soldiers and his own presence on each battle field. every day during the fight. Intense, heroic, one of the better war books. Apparently, it was ...more
David R
Important story, OK narrative

A little bit routine, considering how famous this narrative is. Between the facts already available on Wikipedia and this book’s lack of historical perspective (it was, after all a diary, not a history), and also what seems to read like understatement of US difficulties and casualties, what is left is a nicely understated, boots-on-the-ground description of a very major victory in the Pacific theater. But it is hard to gain much insight after the first 20 pages, and
Nov 17, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book had some great scenes that really captured me but just didn’t put all the pieces together. It was written as soon as the author left Guadalcanal, 9 months after Pearl Harbor, so the author didn’t have the benefit of hindsight yet to know what this pivotal invasion meant in the grand scheme of the Pacific war. He also wrote as a war correspondent which meant he wrote what he saw, as one man getting to as much as he could. What the book misses is a greater perspective... while his descri ...more
Jun 02, 2017 rated it it was amazing
My book that I read was about the Marines that fought against the Japanese on Guadalcanal. The Marine that tells the story is at base and heres about the invasion. He asks to be moved to that group and he is. Later on in the book him and the rest of the Marines are put on the island and forces the Japanese out. S bit Later on they get in combat and get pinned by some enemy fire but make it out and take the island.
Jun 05, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
1st Person Narrative of Guadalcanal

This history of the Guadalcanal campaign is a diary by the young correspondent who covered the war for a leading news service of the day. Modern readers might be offended by the terms "Jap" and "Nip" for Japanese, but that was how it was in 1943.
The book offers great insight into the day to day events of the campaign that was the turning point of WW II in the Pacific.
It was written while World War II was still in full progress and it was probably one of the first personal experience true stories of war. I think in that way it set a precedent and standard for future true accounts of difficult struggles and war. Reading it now, it seems a bit dated and protective of reader sensibilities. If written today it would be much more gritty. But this one is truthful, honest and unadorned. Read it as if the war was still in full rage.
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Richard Tregaskis was born in Elizabeth, New Jersey, on November 28, 1916, and educated at the Pingrie Day School for Boys, Elizabeth, New Jersey, at Peddie School, Hightstonsic, New Jersey, and at Harvard University. Prior to World War II he worked as a journalist for the Boston Herald newspaper.

Shortly after the U.S. entered World War II, Tregaskis volunteered as a combat correspondent represen

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