The Pacific, Guadacanal Diary, and possibly the best atlas ever!

Well, I finally finished “The Pacific”. Whether this was out of sheer determination to finish what I started, because my parents kept asking me if I had, or some combination of both, it’s at least finished. I can’t say the last 5 parts were any better than the first 5 (although I did like the “Okinawa” and “Home” episodes). I had to go back and watch “Band of Brothers” again to wash “The Pacific” out of my mind and that’s when it occurred to me what the problems were: 1. I had no idea what was going on or even where we were some of the time. If it weren’t for the fact one of the characters was ticking off the number of days at the back of a bible under his location (which sometimes they don’t even show), I might have confused this for some random action somewhere in the Philippines. I found it to be confusing but I guess I could get over that if it weren’t for the characters…2. I’m fine with following a couple of soldiers or a company of soldiers and giving me background on their lives, but I really don’t need to see someone’s honeymoon. Giving background actually is great for me but don’t drag it on so that it overshadows the story you’re trying to tell. I felt we spent way too much time on Basilone’s personal life and not nearly enough on the battles. 3. At the end of each “Band of Brothers” part, they told you what the American loss was and some pertinent information so you could see how it played a part in a bigger campaign. “The Pacific” didn’t do that so you have no idea if the actual battle was worse or better than depicted. So overall, I was very frustrated and the dvd set has been relegated to the back of the war movie collection. The good news is I was able to watch “Band of Brothers” again! What were your impressions of “The Pacific” series?

First of all, a huge thanks to reader Jeffrey who suggested “Guadacanal Diary” by Richard Tregaskis. I just finished this and it was an excellent read. It’s told from Richard’s (a war correspondent) point of view of the action of the USMC that he witnessed on Guadacanal. It starts off on the transport he is on, through the landing on Aug 7 through when he leaves at the end of September. It doesn’t cover the battles that took place after that point (and there were two more vicious ones after that) but it gives the reader a great feel for the situations the Marines found themselves in, the dog fights in the air, and a bit of the naval battles going on around the island. It doesn’t bog the reader down in detail but gives you just enough insight about the odds these soldiers were up against in their battle to keep Henderson Field (an air strip of vital importance to keep the Japanese from dominating that area which was key) and control of the islands. After I finished, I really wanted to buy every book this man wrote so my wish list at is getting a bit out of control but I haven’t seen there is a maximum so keep the recommendations coming!!!

I have written before about my knowledge weakness of the Pacific campaign during WWII. This weakness extends to the geography in this area and I found the best book to help with this. “The Times ‘Atlas for the Second World War'” published in 1989 is hands-down one of the best books I have ever purchased! It’s about 200 plus pages and it gives you maps of all the areas that were involved in the war. Each map (and there are tons, big and small) tells the reader which country, military branch, regiment/division, etc. involved, including who was commanding, if was infantry or otherwise, if ships were sank or tanks destroyed. I mean it tells you every single thing you could possibly want to know (even lines of retreat!!). I feel smarter just owning this book so I would highly recommend it!

I’m taking a short break from my military books to read “All the Devils are Here – the Hidden History of the Financial Crisis” by Bethany McLean (who also wrote “The Smartest Guys in the Room – the Amazing Rise and Scandalous Fall of Enron” which is a book I thoroughly enjoyed but made me really angry too. In the interest of full disclosure, I’m a bank auditor for a small community bank that did not cause the crisis so I think this next book should be interesting. After that, “The Pacific War” by William B. Hopkins is on deck (no pun intended). At some point, I should probably list the books that I have that are waiting to be read so you can suggest books to fill any gaps you might see so I’ll try to work on that next week.  Until then, happy reading everyone!!!


About jenvolk5

Bank auditor by day, trivia and knowledge hound all other times.
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2 Responses to The Pacific, Guadacanal Diary, and possibly the best atlas ever!

  1. Jay says:

    Do you know if the movie Guadacanal Diary (starring John Wayne, I think; pilgrim!) is based upon this book? I watched it long ago but can’t remember much about it.

    Also, I don’t know if I’ve mentioned to you or not, but it is a good, free on line place to keep track of your to read list (and your already read list). You can also “friend” other users and follow their progress and what they’ve added to their lists. Check it out if you haven’t already.

    One of my favorite books ever is my “Atlas of Ancient History” – Maps are cool! (nerd alert!)

    PS thanks for adding me to your blogroll!

    • jenvolk5 says:

      It is based on the book but John Wayne isn’t in it. I haven’t seen it but added it to my wish list. I’ll try Goodreads – thanks for the tip!!!

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