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Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War Paperback – Apr 12 2002

4.3 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Back Bay Books; Reprint edition (April 12 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0316501115
  • ISBN-13: 978-0316501118
  • Product Dimensions: 14 x 2.9 x 21 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 386 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.3 out of 5 stars 47 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #356,019 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description


'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 the MP3 CD 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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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
This memoir of fighting in the Pacific Theater was as personal and compelling as I have ever read. Manchester masterfully uses feel, touch, smell, sight, and sound, to capture the imagery of war-making in the Pacific. He combines a superb overview of the history with the very personal touches of his own experiences, so that the reader gets both historical perspective and a powerful sensual effect. He discusses candidly issues of war that are seldom talked about in straight historical discussion. He writes this memoir after returning to the islands in 1978, attempting to restore something lost after fighting there. When finished, you get the feeling you've made the journey with him, experienced something of his pain, and found something also.
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Format: Paperback
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 Last Lion. But Goodbye Darkness is an intensely personal look at his own life as a soldier fighting in the brutal battle of Okinawa during World War Two. As the title suggest, this book is an attempt by a aging man to come to grips with the brutality and the deeds of his youth. More than a personal biography, Manchester weaves the whole Pacific Campaign into his story, we learn of the terror of Guadalcanal, the bravery of the Marines at Tarawa, and the courage of ordinary men who were put in extraordinary circumstances. It is an intensely personal story as we get to know a young Manchester and his Raggedy Ass Marines. We see how friendships were man, mistakes were made and lives were lost. It is a magnificent book.
Manchester comes to grips with the ferocity of his enemy, the Japanese solider. One can sense both a sense of admiration and enmity as Manchester talks about those he fought so long ago. Underlying this hate is the seed of racism as seen in the Japanese who took no prisoners to the Marines who mounted the severed heads of their enemy on their tanks. It was brutal. Both sides saw the other as inferior human beings; thus, it was killed or be killed with very few prisoners taken. Yet, the reader senses Manchester admiration of his enemy, the courage of the Japanese solider who fought with interior weapons, weakened by disease and who was often on the verge of starvation. In the end, however, the authors observes, We were better soldiers.
I have read this book three, maybe four times over the years, and I am due to read it again. It is that good.
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Format: Paperback
Most Americans have been exposed to "Saving Private Ryan" and HBO's exceptional series "Band of Brothers," and many of us have read "Ghost Soldiers." All are excellent ways for us to learn of the sacrifices our fathers made on behalf of our own, personal freedoms during WWII. To say one enjoys those films and that book is somewhat of a mis-statement. It is difficult to enjoy recollections of personal suffering and sacrifice. We do, however, appreciate the personal courage of the men's experiences and stand in awe of them to the nth degree.
As much as I appreciated the likes of "Saving Private Ryan" and "Band of Brothers" among other books and films on WWII, no book on the subject has touched my soul like William Manchester's "Goodbye Darkness." Through the book, Manchester returns to the Pacific and visits the islands that were the sites of the greatest carnage of WWII. He comments on what he sees during his visit in 1978 or so, but is continually drawn back in time to the events that occurred there that ultimately led to the defeat of the Japanese Empire. Noticeably, Manchester rarely uses the word "Japenese," rather he refers to "Japs" and "Nips." In today's politically correct environment, Manchester's references would be considered totally unacceptable. However, as you read his recollections of the engagements he and thousands of other Marines participated in, and you tally up the tremendous loss of human life in the process, you will excuse him for him political incorrectness. Manchester makes the most convincing case to justify the deployment of the atom bomb to bring an end to the conflict.
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Format: Mass Market Paperback
William Manchester's riveting book is a combination of autobiography, a Marine memoir, and deep introspection. The hard as nails portrait of men who bore the battle in the Pacific War is good reading for thoughtful readers who aspire to know the human side of history. The book is also a revealing insight of the mindset of the WWII generation that sharply contrasts with their self-absorbed children. The book dispels some of the nonsense of men at war. Although the Raggedy Ass Marines scoff when a fellow suggests that they are "steel hardened by fire," gritty determination to do the job drives them. Manchester argues that men do not endure battle for ruffles and flourishes, or because of tacky appeals to patriotism. Quite simply, men endure battle for love of comrades. While recovering from his own million-dollar-wound, Manchester learned that his company was going into the thick of battle at Okinawa. He went AWOL from the hospital to re-join the Raggedy Ass Marines, and was severely wounded. Such seemingly irrational behavior can only be explained by the bond that men develop in dire circumstances. Never mind flags and the false trappings of glory, the Marines were accountable to each other. That is what matters. The young Marine Manchester will not compromise on core beliefs with the aging author he has become. Hence, Manchester's troubled dreams and reflective mid-life melancholy. Recommended reading. ;-)
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