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With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa

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4.41  ·  Rating details ·  23,279 Ratings  ·  1,348 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 1981)
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J.
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
Gloria
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
...more
'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
...more
Sweetwilliam
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
...more
Bou
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
...more
Lawyer
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
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 yo
...more
Mike
Sep 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Mike by: aggie_mike2003@yahoo.com
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
Tony
Aug 04, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, 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 ...more
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
...more
4triplezed
Nov 03, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, world-war-2
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.
Dj
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
Susan
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
Adrian
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.
Kate
Aug 16, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history, war, wwii
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
...more
Peter N.
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
Ctgt
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
...more
Lee
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.
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
David
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
...more
Mark Mortensen
Jan 25, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, usmc, wwii, memoir
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
John Nellis
One of the all time best war memoirs ever written. I have read this book twice, it is a classic account of one Marines experiences in the Pacific during World War 2. Very personal and moving memoir of the horrors and fighting experienced during the Peleliu and Okinawa campaigns. The narrative presents a very detailed and gripping account. The bitter fighting and suicidal Japenese resistance make these campaigns a couple of the worst during the Pacific campaign. Anyone seeking to learn of the exp ...more
Silvana
Have y'all seen the HBO miniseries, The Pacific? It's not as great as Band of Brothers but it is good. My favorite parts were Eugene Sledge's stories (I somehow dislike Leckie, but probably because of the actor hehe).

This book is his memoir and I loved every single part of it. It is as good as William Manchester's masterpiece Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War. The following may not be a review after all, it's me pouring my thoughts on this book.

A professor of biology
Sometimes we fo
...more
Chad Bearden
Mar 20, 2010 rated it really liked it
Pacific theater veteran and author E.B. Sledge gives such a wide-eyed and earnest account of his combat experience in two of the worst battles of WWII, that his hyperbolic language almost threatens to undermine the impact of his story. But then a funny thing happens: you realize that there is so much respect and honesty in his memories, that hyperbolic though it may be, it all probably happened and felt exactly the way he records it.

Each time he describes a war-blasted landscape and claims its t
...more
Courtney Umlauf
Jul 15, 2015 rated it it was amazing
From the introduction by Paul Fussell
One cause of this book's distinction is that its author is not an author. Sledge wrote this memoir less for strangers than to tell his own family what his war had been like. It was his wife who persuaded him to submit it to a publisher. The book is devoid of the literary expediencies and suavity's that may occasion skepticism or disgust in more artistically self-conscious war memoirs. Sledge is so little an author in the pejorative sense that his eye seems
...more
Holly
Jun 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
Shelves: soldiers
Brutal, raw, and honest. This is a guy with an eye for horrifying details, the little things I found a surprise to read. I like to understand people and this left the door wide open for me to walk through and observe a WW2 Pacific grunt's experience and feelings. There were more than a few scenes leaving a strong impression on me...more like a few horrifying images I cannot forget. He talks about battle fatigue..walking that line between "cracking up" and maintaining; his description is apt and ...more
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
Laura
Dec 28, 2008 rated it it was amazing
I recalled some of the eloquent phrases of politicians and newsmen about how "gallant" it is for a man to "shed his blood for his country" and "to give his life's blood as a sacrifice," and so on. The words seemed so ridiculous. Only the flies benefitted.

This is a fabulous book. It is about a marine serving in the Pacific during WWII. His description of the life of a marine in wartime is direct, brutal, and honest. You get a glimpse of what life was like in the foxholes, trying to kill and not b
...more
Vheissu
May 06, 2017 rated it really liked it
I think the most incredible thing about this book is that it was written at all. The author was a mortarman in K Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment, 1st Marine Division for the battles of Peleliu and Okinawa in the Pacific War. Of the 235 Marines in K Company who invaded Peleliu on September 15, 1944, only 26 remained in active duty at the end of the battle of Okinawa on June 22, 1945. One can only speculate about the possible contributions to art, literature, and the sciences that were ...more
Jeff Shelnutt
Mar 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing
The horror and futility of war can never accurately be conveyed in words. Plenty have tried. Some authors choose to highlight the emotional toll, others the absurdity, some the waste and still others the gore. Those who actually fought in a war obviously come the closest to presenting an accurate appraisal.

Still, how can it be conveyed?

Eugene Sledge does a masterful job. He dropped out of officer's training school and enlisted as a private in the Marine Corps. Like many young American men his ag
...more
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Jocko Podcast Boo...: With the Old Breed by Eugene Sledge 3 19 Feb 17, 2016 03:37PM  
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Mrs. Gallagher's ...: Final Book Review 2 10 Jan 05, 2014 04:19PM  
Mrs. Gallagher's ...: three sentence book update 1 8 Nov 23, 2013 06:28PM  
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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
More about Eugene B. Sledge

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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.” 50 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.” 40 likes
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