This is Leon Uris's first novel. It's not perfect, but it is a great window back in time to WWII and also to the 1950's (when the book was written) view of America. The book goes from the first person to third very effectivly, which can be distracting under a lesser author. The book's weakest area is the stereo typing of the characters, the marine squad is made up of a firery hispanic, an all American farm boy, an indian called Chief who speaks like a B-movie indian, and a lumberjack who's tough but with a heart as big as the all out doors. But these weaknesses bring us back in time to the era. The book takes us in combat at Guadalcanel, liberty in New Zealand, than to Tarawa. The discription of the Betio island fight is historical fiction at it's best. The book follows our squad through the Tarawa atoll's lesser known islands and climax's at the Japanses last stand on the final island. If you've seen the movie than you will be very surprised at the ammout of combat in this book. The squad's final action is the blood bath at the Saipan beach. Leon Uris was a screen writer and the final page at the the train station, with the news barker yelling about the Iwo Jima fight is a perfect scene of a marine coming home. This book, with all it's faults, is the best novel of the Corps in WWII.