Mrs. Gallagher's Book Group 2013-2014 discussion

With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa
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Final Book Review

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message 1: by Alex (new)

Alex | 3 comments I chose to read "With the Old Breed" written by Eugene B. Sledge. He recalls his horrors during one of World War II's least known battles: Peleliu. The non fiction book begins by Sledge dragging us with him through the exhausting Marine training process. He recalls specific details such as brutal penalties which would most certainly be illegal in training camps today. Finally, after many months of training, he and his company are shipped to an island free of Japanese control called Pavuvu. Sledge lives here for many weeks until the U.S. calls for the commencement of the assault on Peleliu. Upon entering the island he vividly describes the chaos he was thrown into. As the story progresses Eugene and his comrades experience things that cause many of them to turn barbaric and lose their sanity (one man even tries to bring a Japanese hand home to the U.S. as a souvenir). Throughout the battle the author struggles both mentally and physically against relentless Japanese soldiers, intense heat, sleep deprivation, dehydration, and the fear of war.

A unique feature of this book is that there is only one meaningful character in the book, and that is Eugene himself. I disagree with this style, and more insight on another character or characters may have given the book more depth. However, during the war a soldier would most likely only be concerned with his survival, and not the experiences of others. Overall it was one of the best books I've ever read. What worked well for me is the themes he stressed and did not stress. Unlike many war recollections, the author of this book skipped past the excessive use of disapproval of war which amounts to complaining. Sledge was able to tell what happened and how he reacted to it with much detail, without the constant negative theme. One theme that is presented throughout the book is a realistic World War II experience for the reader. Also, an under lying theme is more powerful than the main theme itself. After the description of (what seems like) one of the most horrible experiences any human can undergo, we learn that the Battle of Peleliu was questionably necessary and the island is of little use to the Marines. It builds a deep appreciation for all of the U.S. Military which I had less of before reading this book. The book appealed to me in more of an emotional sense because Eugene Sledge uses his strong visualization skills to bring the reader along with him, through the battle, so the reader may feel the pain that the Marines felt on that assault. I would recommend this book to anyone with a strong stomach, and who is interested in what war and combat is like.

"With the Old Breed" was published by Presido Press and costs $16.00.


message 2: by Bridgette (new)

Bridgette Gallagher | 27 comments Mod
Alex, it's always so nice to read your writing. Don't be afraid in a review to leave a little to the imagination as it is a "review" and not a "report." A unique function to the review requirement versus the report requirement.


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