Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War Paperback – Apr 12 2002
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'One of the few truly great memoirs of the Second World War . . . a superb account of the Americans' Pacific island battle against the Japanese threat will become a classic . . . a marvellous book, searingly readable, graphic, thoughtful, rich with atmposphere and feeling, haunted by awful nostalgia and longing, brutally honest, angry and sad, utterly free of false heroics.' (Sunday Express )
'Manchester has done for that greatest of conflicts what Siegfried Sassoon did for the First World War . . . It is a gripping, haunting book.' (William S. Shirer )
'One of the most powerful and disturbing books to come out of World War II.' (Irwin Shaw ) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
About the Author
William Manchester was a hugely successful popular historian and biographer whose books include The Last Lion, Volumes 1 and 2, Goodbye Darkness, A World Lit Only by Fire, The Glory and the Dream, The Arms of Krupp, American Caesar, The Death of the President, and assorted works of journalism.
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Top Customer Reviews
Manchester was a Marine Corps Sergeant in an unorthodox front-line Intelligence unit during WW II. His baptism of fire was Okinawa where he was wounded twice -- once seriously -- during two months of combat. Most of the men in his squad were killed. Manchester strengthens my view that the U.S. Marines in World War II were among the finest combat soldiers that ever existed. But this is not a gung-ho book of combat tales of heroism and sacrifice. Manchester is equivocal about his service with the Marines and in the war. Writing the book was apparently a catharsis for him as he pours out feelings unexpressed for many years.
In the final pages of the book, Manchester gives his insight about the reasons the Marines were capable of taking casualties in excess of 50 percent without ever giving up. First, they had been tempered by the hardships of the depression; secondly, in WW II the whole generation was in the war together -- most of the Marines in his squad were Ivy Leaguers, FDR's sons were in uniform, and the sons of important politicians were being killed alongside the sons of sharecroppers --; and third, nationalism, "the absolute conviction that the United States was the envy of all other nations, a country which had never done anything infamous...." Contrast those examples of why the U.S.Read more ›
Some thirty-five years after the end of the war, Manchester embarked on a journey to re-trace the Pacific War and, in a sense, find something he lost there as a Marine who witnessed some of the war's fiercest fighting and shed the darkness that has remained after all those years. He hits all the islands, from New Guinea and Guadalcanal, north to Tarawa, Saipan, Tinian, and Guam, onto Iwo Jima and Okinawa. In the process, he not only describes his travels but also chronicles his own wartime experiences and gives a bit of the history of the theater (with generous attention given to MacArthur); Manchester's range is as intriguing as it is impressive: strategy, tactics, philosophy, history, and literature pepper the narrative.
If there's one word to describe the book, it's "ironic." From his early, thwarted, incomplete sexual encounters (readers beware: these scenes, while brief, are definitely NC-17), to his leaving a hospital to rejoin his unit during Okinawa almost certainly to become a casualty (and indeed, he will be wounded badly enough to be sent home), to how the islands have changed or have not, irony pours from virtually every page.
Aside from some vague and indecipherable allusions and a penchant for using the Gethsemane comparison (sometimes confusingly), this ranks among the very best war memoirs I've read. It's of a very different sort than E. B. Sledge's excellent and straightforward With the Old Breed, but it's no less insightful, no less interesting, no less gripping. I highly recommend it.
Manchester does a remarkable job letting the reader feel what it was like to be a Marine on Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and many other battles. His best writing is saved for Okinawa. It is on this island where Manchester was severely wounded. Manchester describes the heroism of the American Marines fighting for inches at the costs of thousands of lives. What is compelling about the book is that Manchester puts the reader in the battle, feeling the feelings of the soldiers.
For those that are interested in the Pacific War, or just want to read a personal account of the a soldier in battle, this book is a must.
Most recent customer reviews
Probably the best account of WW2 from a human perspective that I have read.Published 10 months ago by griffray
Not the typical WW2 memoir. Comes at things a little sideways, but the writing is suberb. One of the finest memoirs I have ever read, and I've read a ton of them. Read morePublished on July 13 2004 by David Kanzler
This is an excellent book, though, if you're like me and lack an advanced education, many of the literary and foreign language references are baffling. Read morePublished on June 12 2004 by Chad Brown
I believe this book to be a classic, and it is definitely a personal favorite. Manchester wrote that he joined the United States Marine Corps during World War 2 after the fall of... Read morePublished on May 11 2004 by Hollis O. Blakesley
I couldn't even finish this boring garbage (& I tried several times!). There was so much time wasted on his sexual problems which are both sick & out of place here. Read morePublished on March 31 2004
This memoir grabbed me by the stacking swivel harder than any other book I have ever read with the possible exception of Remarque's "All Quiet on the Western Front". Read morePublished on March 7 2004 by Tom Veatch
Few books moved me like this one. William Manchester has always been one of my favorite biographers writing such magnificent books as The Arms of Krupp, American Caesar, and The... Read morePublished on Aug. 14 2003 by Robert Wynkoop
This is a self serving account of WWII, starting with the tip off "Let me tell you about the first man I ever killed." Hogwash and sea stories. Read morePublished on Dec 30 2002 by James Chaffee
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