Westward we came across the smiling waves,
West to the outpost of our country’s might
‘Romantic land of brilliant tropic light’
Our land of broken memories and graves.
Eastward we go and home,
so few Wrapped in their beds of clay our comrades sleep
The memories of this land are branded deep
And lost is the youth we knew.
Lieutenant Henry Lee
Rozell has got this book right. The pace, the tone, and the visceral nature of the accounts within all work together to show the horrors of war in the Pacific. Starting with the attack on Pearl harbour readers are given first hand accounts of what it was like to face an enemy that would rather die than surrender. The accounts from veterans are accompanied by chapter headers that give a greater sense of the historical background. It is this zooming in and out between the overarching campaign and those that experienced it on the ground that makes this book so approachable. You don’t need to already know reams of information about the war in the Pacific to be able to follow this book.
My only criticism of this book, if that is what it can be called, is that there is not enough of it. I feel that this book could have done with slightly more accounts from the people that were there. However, this is probably just because I am greedy and found the accounts contained in this book truly amazing. I will leave you with one section with a pertinent message for us today:
“I think that is one thing I learned with the atomic bomb, that there is no future in war, so as far as I am concerned…the worst thing that is happening is that young people are brought up to be in fear, and you should not be.” – Walter Hooke