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 with pixellated blood and gore. I will admit to holding a longstanding fascination with "The Greatest Generation. The patriotism, the sense the country pulling together, the neighborhoods where people still knew one another, the clothes, the cars, the music As graphic and as detailed as some more recent movies focusing on WWII have gotten, there always still seemed to be gaps at least in my mind.
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Textbooks, documentaries, and even Hollywood productions have proven to be accurate as to the details of this theater of war. Nothing, however, can substitute for a first-person narrative presented by an enlisted man who fought on the front lines; the best of which is E. It took him more than three decades for him to muster the ability to relate his experience to the public. In , Eugene Sledge was a nineteen year old boy who romanticized war.
As he was born in Mobile Alabama in , Civil war veterans were still alive to regale young boys with their stories of battle for the Old South. When Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Sledge felt the need to bring to life his romantic notions and fight against the Japanese. At the time of his enlistment, Sledge was a freshman training to be an officer at Marian Military Institute. He dropped out in order to be a fighting Marine before the war was over.
Sledge was not alone in his attitude. Many of his peers did the same; eschewing the relative safety of staying at the academy and serving as an officer in order to engage in battle in the Pacific.
Eugene Sledge, The Japanese Imperial Fleet was underestimated by the U. Going into battle under these circumstances quickly erased the romantic beliefs held by Sledge and his peers when they first experienced combat. With the Old Breed details not only the assault on the island, it also provides a glimpse into the minds of young men experiencing this type of violence for the first time.
Sledge describes the feeling of waiting to disembark the amtrac. His concern abated somewhat when he noticed the men around him seemed to feel the same. This description debunks the myth of the larger-than-life American hero dodging bullets while running ashore to defeat the enemy. Marines taking cover in foxholes on the beach at Peleliu, September It was on Peleliu that Sledge encountered his first enemy corpse. Would I become so casual and calloused about enemy dead? Those who were incapable of enduring the slaughter, rain, mud, maggots, hunger, disease, and fear simply went mad.
Sledge recounts an event where a fellow Marine on Peleliu began pleading with the company dog for help. The stress of combat had finally shattered his mind. Where do warriors go when the battle has ended? That is another topic discussed in With the Old Breed. Most problematic of all for the returning combatants was the sense of alienation from those who did not share the same experiences.
A veteran who did not experience nightmares was a rarity. The majority of men, such as Sledge who suffered nightmares until his death, isolated themselves and did not share their war activity with their families.
Some became violent and many turned to drugs and alcohol. This is a very real and prevalent condition, one that makes With the Old Breed just as relevant today as when it was first published in The writing of this memoir was a cathartic event for Sledge. He not only dealt with his own unresolved issues, he also hoped to aid other veterans who he knew suffered in a similar manner.
This book is an invaluable piece of history and an exceptional teaching tool. I have attempted, rather, to be the spokesman for my comrades, who were swept with me into the abyss of war. I hope they will approve my efforts.
With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa
Textbooks, documentaries, and even Hollywood productions have proven to be accurate as to the details of this theater of war. Nothing, however, can substitute for a first-person narrative presented by an enlisted man who fought on the front lines; the best of which is E. It took him more than three decades for him to muster the ability to relate his experience to the public. In , Eugene Sledge was a nineteen year old boy who romanticized war. As he was born in Mobile Alabama in , Civil war veterans were still alive to regale young boys with their stories of battle for the Old South.
With the Old Breed
Kazrakasa Then there is a stench, and then wity discovers he is literally digging through a Japanese corpse. This is a fabulous book. Author Sledge, Sledgehammer, takes you from civilian life to the last days of the war in the Pacific. 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. Sledge Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read. Sledge brings us to the brutal reality of the grime of war that no one speaks of. He did not know about the underground fortifications, and the shelling, for all the noise and destruction, which should have practically scoured the island of Japanese, in fact barely touched them.