Lady Jane's Reviews > With the Old Breed

With the Old Breed by Eugene B. Sledge
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bookshelves: memoirs, classics, ww2, nonfiction, made-into-movie-or-tv

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 Pacific.

The Pacific showed us that on Okinawa, Marine casualties were left to decompose around their live, foxhole-entrapped replacements. It never before occurred to me that under those conditions, there is no way to dispense of human waste. So, under constant shelling, threat of infiltrating, nighttime attacks, surrounded by decomposing bodies--some of whom were friends--with rotting feet, hungry, constantly wet from relentless rain, these poor babies also had to stew in their own poop.

Sledge's memoirs also depict a fanatical, military enemy--much like today's fanatical "Islamsists"--that is difficult for post WWII generations to connect with Japan, our current friend, ally and trading partner. I am convinced that Truman's decision to use atomic weapons on Japan must be evaluated in its historical context and not within a contemporary framework.

I'm a history buff, but not a military history buff. Consequently, I'm glad that I watched The Pacific before reading With the Old Breed, because the images I retained from the miniseries helped me to visualize the technical details and battle scenes that Sledge describes in his memoirs.


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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
February 4, 2011 – Shelved
July 10, 2011 – Shelved as: memoirs
September 5, 2014 – Shelved as: classics
September 5, 2014 – Shelved as: ww2
September 5, 2014 – Shelved as: nonfiction
September 5, 2014 – Shelved as: made-into-movie-or-tv

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