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With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa

4.44  ·  Rating details ·  30,873 ratings  ·  1,832 reviews
In his own book, Wartime, Paul Fussell called With the Old Breed "one of the finest memoirs to emerge from any war." John Keegan referred to it in The Second World War as "one of the most arresting documents in war literature." And Studs Terkel was so fascinated with the story he interviewed its author for his book, "The Good War." What has made E.B. Sledge's memoir of his ...more
Paperback, 326 pages
Published October 25th 1990 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published November 1st 1981)
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Steve O'Malley roll 2d6 and add 2. if your roll is greater than your age then the answer is no. otherwise the answer is yes. if you die, turn to page 337.

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Nov 16, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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
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
Apr 03, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites

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
Nov 11, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely great book, hands down the best memoir of a rifleman. Sledge takes you deep into the horrors of being a Marine rifleman in the Pacific campaigns of Pelilu and Okinawa. He does not hide any of the grim details that faced thses men daily, both physically and mentally. After reading this I will not look at European battlefield memoirs in the same way, as these men fighting against the fanatical Japanese really went to hell and back. Highly recommended to any history buff.
'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
Oct 20, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Apr 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
I would give it six stars if I could. This was gripping. I have been reading military history all my life but I have never read anything quite like PVT Sledge’s first-hand account of his war experience as a member of a front-line infantry unit in the 3rd battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division. I couldn’t believe what I was listening to (It was an audio book.) This book is considered by many as the best first-hand account, battlefield memoir ever written and I cannot disagree.

If you have eve
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 y
Aug 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction, ww2
You've read the other reviews, so you already know how good this is. Written by a young Marine, this is a straight forward, no-nonsense, gritty account of life (and frequently death) on the front line in the Pacific in WW2. It's well written, with plenty of insights into military life - the friendships, the stink & grime, the horror & occasional humour. But what really sets this apart are the author's honest descriptions of how he felt and his motivations in combat - comradeship, bravery, anger, ...more
Charles  van Buren
Review of Kindle edition
Publication date: December 18, 2008
Publisher: Presidio Press
Language: English
ASIN: B000VMFDW2 Sales Rank: 10684
354 pages

It would be easy to say that this is one of the best, most moving war memoirs ever written but that is not enough. It is also one of the finest histories of marines and campaigns in the Pacific. Overall it is widely regarded as one of the best nonfiction books to come out of WW2. Highly recommended.
Sep 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  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
This has become my favourite WWII memoir from the Allied side, and ironically it's all about the battlefront I know the least about: the island-hopping war in the Pacific.

Being more familiar with the European theatre, I kept thinking that this memoir gives vibes of the Pacific as the United States's Eastern Front, because of the savagery, the suicide charges, the ignoring of basic combat conventions and decency, the futile targets, the shitty weather and shittier terrain, the long distances, the
carl  theaker
Oct 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ww2
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
Nov 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-2, history
A wonderful read. I had trouble putting this brutal but heartfelt book down. It hides nothing about the inhumanity of the Pacific conflict that Sledge was part of but in the end his prose shows a retention of his own humanity.
Jul 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military, non-fiction
Probably not right place to begin, but, more than anything, this book was the perfect companion to Leckie's equally graphic, disturbing, compelling, shocking, gut-wrenching, and poignant, Helmet For My Pillow. These days (many years after they were published), I can't imagine that many military history readers consume one without the other (and, in retrospect, I wish I had read them closer together). Among other things, what's so remarkable is how different Leckie and Sledge were (as individuals ...more
Jan 08, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Mar 03, 2017 rated it really liked it
Let's start off by saying that in general, I do no care for low-level personal accounts of the war. They tend to be either poorly written (not surprising since most Infantry in the war were the least intelligent of the Branches.) or they tend to be so stylish that it is easy to tell that they were ghostwritten. For me, this tends to detract from my enjoyment of the book. Another loss for my reading enjoyment is they also have such a close order view of what is going on, that you loose any big pi ...more
May 26, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Marines, veterans, the Old Breed
An appropriate read for Memorial Day weekend.

The Thousand Yard Stare

Since I became interested in World War II history, particularly in the Pacific Theater, largely through WWII wargames, I have been reading and playing a lot of books/games that cover the war from the grand strategic level. Most history books are written at a general's eye level, covering the fleets, the armies, the movement of troops across vast distances, major battles and their outcomes summarized in a few paragraphs. We know, abstractly, that "a fi
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 can't put down. It will stop in your memory long after you have read it. If you want to read about the true horror's of war then this book is a must read.

A truly epic read.

P.s I don't go into much details about what is contained under it's covers(so-to-speak) as I don't want to give anything away.
Stefania Dzhanamova
E. B. Sledge's battle memoir is a no-holds-barred account of his experiences in the Pacific War.

Eugene Bondurant Sledge, called "Sledgehammer" by his fellow Marines, was a very unlikely combatant: when he, the shy, skinny son of a prominent physician from Alabama, enlisted in the Marine Corps on 3 December 1942, he was a freshman at Marion Military Institute. His parents and brother had urged him to stay in college as long as possible in order to qualify for a commission in some technical branc
Jan 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
Aug 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, wwii, war
The best books I have read have been found through the bibliographies of other writers I have appreciated....this book is no exception. It is a humble story of a Marine and his battle experiences, told without self censure and speaking to the awesome horror that is war.
I always look with wonder at the young faces, these virtual boys who struggled in horrid conditions and sacrificed so much. It is with the same amazement I look at my own father's face smiling at the camera from someplace in the P
Peter Jones
Dec 31, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Emily Wemily
Jul 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing

Overall Impression
Fascinating. Understatedly horrifying.
This is an incredible first-hand account of what it was like to fight in the Pacific theater during WW2. It's grim, black and white, and factual. It's quite a sobering read.

Style Comments
Sledge recounts the horror of war with such a matter-of-fact-ness. No matter how grim, or how horrible his experience, he writes about them all. It's incredibly detailed and well-researched. Though there are small instances where it reads like a story,
Jesper Jorgensen
Nov 27, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Much praise has - rightfully - been given to this book. And I can't add more to what has already been said and written about it.

What I can say is that it is one of those books that leaves me with a lasting impression

I can only recommend it as a 'must read' to any who study the Pacific War - any war, for that matter - as a reminder that 'War is brutish, inglorious, and a terrible waste' (Page 317) and to carry out most of the overall land war strategy was the 'boots on the ground', the rifleman.
Mar 25, 2009 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
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
Mark Mortensen
Jan 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wwii, usmc, memoir, favorites
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
Apr 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing
To understand the true horror of war you only need to know that this autobiography states that the author on P 156 lost his faith that mankind was good.
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
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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.” 59 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.” 54 likes
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