A book worthy of any Marine's coffee table, or that of fanatics of things that are simply Marine. . . . One viewing of Hammel's book is worth a thousand of anyone's tellings.—Leatherneck Magazine
Even in as bloody and bluntly violent a war as Americans encountered in the Pacific, Iwo Jima was in a class by itself, the ultimate expression of death and mayhem. Relying upon a purely attritional strategy of “defend-and-die,” Iwo’s Japanese commander oversaw the construction of thousands of concrete bunkers, pillboxes, blockhouses, and other fighting positions as well as multistory underground command centers and barracks, some as deep at seventy-five feet.
By D-day, February 19, 1945, most of these formidable defenses had been interconnected by eleven miles of underground passageways. Manning these positions were twenty-three thousand Japanese army and navy troops, many of them elite veterans of combat in the Pacific and China. Hundreds of mortars, artillery pieces, and rocket tubes had been painstakingly preregistered, allowing them to hit virtually any spot on the island with their first shot.
Hammel has done his homework. His text, enhanced by several pages of maps, sets the stage for the battle and records its progress in considerable detail … Iwo Jima provides a single source for much detail—text and pictures—of that faraway conflict and should be included in the library of anyone interested in what has become a memorable time in the American experience.—Naval History
Following a seventy-four-day air and naval bombardment that the American high command believed had put the bulk of the Japanese defenders at least temporarily out of action, two veteran regiments of the 4th Marine Division alongside two regiments of the newly formed 5th Marine Division—eight battalion landing teams in all—led the way toward the island. Aircraft, battleships, cruisers, and destroyers pummeled ground targets near and far from the landing beaches. As the first wave of Marine-laden amphibian tractors climbed ashore, nearby gunboats fired hundreds of rockets to suppress enemy fire. Then Marine Corsairs strafed the ground just behind the beaches.
This book is as close to the battle as you can get without being on the island.—Marines Magazine
Nothing happened. There was no return fire. No Japanese fired at the ships offshore, nor at the oncoming waves of amphibian tractors, nor at the Marines. Shortly, when the nearly eight thousand newly landed Marines had stopped along the shoreline to regroup, every Japanese gun and mortar within range opened fire on the exposed invaders. The gunfire did not die for thirty-four of the bloodiest days of the Pacific War.
The shots of Marines under fire, wounded and dead are particularly evocative, especially following the sobering pictures of hardened Japanese defensive positions. Just as important: Hammel’s straightforward essay and his revealing captions, which filigree detail around the pictures, deepening their visceral resonance yet anchoring them in research. . . . [T]he book is beautiful, powerful and stuffed with information.—World War II Magazine
Eric Hammel is a critically acclaimed military historian and author of more than thirty combat histories, including several on the U.S. Marines in World War II. He lives in Northern California.