The Battle for Iwo Jima 1945 Paperback – Feb 2007
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"In the beginning, Iwo Jima was just an unknown island in the north Pacific Ocean. In the end, it was to become the island of death." That grim but accurate appraisal begins The Battle for Iwo Jima: 1945, a blow-by-blow eyewitness account of one of World War II's most critical--and bloody--conflicts, what author Derrick Wright (A Hell of a Way to Die) describes as "the greatest battle in Marine Corps history."
By 1945, Iwo Jima had become a linchpin of enormous tactical importance. Victory in Europe was all but assured, and the largest navy ever to set sail had chased Japan's Imperial fleet back to its native shores. But Iwo Jima remained a persistent thorn, giving Japan hours of warning for air raids and allowing Japanese fighters to harass B-29 bomber routes. The Americans were forced to take Iwo Jima, and the Japanese command knew it--and even though they couldn't hold the island, they were determined to make the U.S. pay dearly. "[F]orewarned of the American invasion and resigned to dying at their posts, [the Japanese] were determined to take as many Marines with them as possible. 'Do not plan for my return,' wrote the commander of the island, Lt. Gen. Kuribayashi, in one of his last letters to his wife."
Wright gets on the ground, down and dirty, covering both sides of the conflict, interviewing survivors from both sides, excerpting official documents and letters (including Kuribayashi's), digging up previously unpublished photos, and giving intimate tooth-and-nail (and often grisly) accounts of every engagement, from prelanding prep to D day to D+36. An excellent and engaging piece of work, with enough sketches, maps, photos, and command structure org charts to satisfy the most serious military history buff. --Paul Hughes --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
About the Author
DERRICK WRIGHT'S interest in the Second World War was stimulated by the many Luftwaffe bombing raids on his native Teesside. He is the author of Tarawa: A Hell of a Way to Die (Windrow & Greene, 1997). Married, with four daughters, he lives on the edge of the North Yorkshire Moors.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
In this relatively small book, Derrick Wright does not waste a word. In less than 200 pages he tells in great detail of the struggles of the three Marine Divisions which took this island. He also does justice to the strategy and leadership of General Kuribayashi, the commander of the Japanese forces. Taking a lesson from the earlier amphibious assaults, he adopted a defense in depth rather than attempt to defeat the enemy at the beach. Forbidden as well were the useless banzai attacks. Instead he would concentrate on attrition, forcing the Marines to pay heavily for every bit of ground gained. He oversaw the construction of dozens of subsurface blockhouses, bunkers and a labyrinth of underground fortifications, many connected by tunnels. Once again, Howlin Mad Smith comes under criticism, this time for refusing to send in the 3rd Regiment of the 3rd Division when casualties ashore had soared. If the book has a fault, it is the too kind treatment of H. M. Smith. The Marines suffered 5,885 dead and 17,272 wounded. The Navy lost 881 men and another 1,917 wounded. Japanese death toll has been calculated at 21,060. 27 Medals of Honor were awarded at Iwo and Wright tells each story briefly in an appendix.
This is my first book on the battle for Iwo Jima and as such I found the beginning with the overview of why we fought for this island very informative. The book covers the defensive plans of the Japanese, the offensive plans of the Americans, the disaster that befell both sides, the Japanese were not really prepared for the Marines to keep going in the face of death, as well as the tanks, and Navel shelling. And in fact the book alludes to the Japanese general writing home to say he would hold the island as long as he could but that he knew it was hopeless to think of winning. In fact this battle could be considered in 20/20 hindsight to have motivated the USA to use an Atomic bomb on Japan rather than go through a land war with Iwo Jima levels of casualties. But again, the USA was firebombing Japan at the time and whether or not a protracted war would have been fought on Japanese soil with out using the A-bomb is pure conjecture on my part. For the Marines, they were not really ready for the battle for the last airfield. The land better suited the defenders, and yet it didn't seem reasonable to just let the Japanese hold that ground and wait them out. After all, eventually they would have run out of ammo and food and water.
I recommend this as a another good analysis of the battle.