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Our Reading List

Our research of Michael's experiences have introducted us to many great books. Below is the list of books we have read and our review of them. We hope you find this list useful.

The books are arranged alphabetically by author. If the book is available on Amazon.com, then clicking on the book's image will take you to Amazon.com for buying information. We do not receive any kind of commission for recommending these books – these are our unbiased reviews.

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The Pacific, Hugh Ambrose, 2010

This is the companion book to the excellent HBO series. It does not completely follow the series and there are much more detail given to the characters portrayed. Two characters who did not make it in the series have very notable accounts – Austin "Shifty" Shofner and Vernon "Mike" Micheel. I had no appreciation how dangerous it was to fly aircraft off of an aircraft carrier in or out of battle. Shofner's escape from a Japanese prison camp is also an amazing story. Their two stories alone are worth the price of of the book.

Love and War Beneath the Southern Cross

Love and War Beneath the Southern Cross, A World War II Memoir from the South Pacific Islands and Australia, Edward Andrusko, 2003

I have never met a Marine veteran who complained about his time in Austraila. Edward Andrusko's experience is no different. Andrusko was a rifleman who fought in four major campaigns, earning three Purple Hearts. This is a good memoir of not only his battle experiences but of the interesting people he met and the places he had been. Before this book, I knew nothing of the Vichy French on the Wallis Islands. This book is available from the author. To learn more, email eddyleeandrusko@gmail.com.

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Semper Fi Mac - Living Memories of the U.S. Marines in World War II, Henry Berry, 1982

I found a new copy of the book in the bookstore. It is basically a series of interviews with Marine veterans. I wish I had read it years ago since one of the interviews was with Tom Barry then publisher of Control Engineering magazine. I knew Tom quite well because he produces a magazine in our industry, but I never ask Tom about his wartime experiences. I missed my chance because Tom died before I learned his past. The book has some good stories from various battles and duty stations.

A few years later, my friend Pat Yanahan of USA Strategies presented me with the hard copy first printing of the book given to Tom Barry and autographed by the author. Pat, a friend of Tom's, had received it from Tom's widow and gave it to me because of my interests.

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The Marine's Handbook, Major L. A. Brown, USMC, U. S. Naval Institute, Seventh Edition, 1940

I purchased this handbook in order to help me understand the weapons and tactics during the period that my uncle was undergoing training. The book does not mention the M1 rifle which did not become available to the Marines until New Britain. However, you can learn much about the Springfield 1903 which was used on Guadalcanal and a favorite weapon of Marines. The book is in a question and answer format so you think you are back in school. The lesson on map reading is helpful in understanding the symbols used on battle maps in the monographs. It is an interesting book but not critical to have.

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Islands of the Damned: A Marine at War in the Pacific, R. V. Burgin, 2010

I was finally able to meet Burgin at a recent 1st Marine Division Association reunion where I knew he was selling his book. When I entered the K-3-5 hospitality suite, one of the guys said he is not here but just throw your money in there and take a book. I said no way — I am waiting for Burgin. We eventually chatted and I now have my autographed copy of his book. In his book, he gives us more insight into Eugene Sledge and his perspective as a squad leader. He was one of the characters in the HBO series The Pacific.

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Marine! The Life of Chesty Puller, Burke Davis, 1964

I read this book in 1966 when I had the weekend duty. With plenty of time on my hands (I basically had to answer the phone and make sure the barracks did not burn down), I checked out this book from the company library. Chesty Puller received an unbelievable five Navy Crosses yet he could have been easily killed in Nicaragua in the 20's and there would not have been a story of the greatest Marine ever. I did not know at the time when I read this book that my uncle served under him at New Britain. When you read some of the Peleliu books, you find that several veterans do not share the same feelings about Chesty Puller. Still, his career is truly amazing.

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Marine at War, Russell Davis, 1961

Russell Davis was a scout with 2/1 and saw action on Peleliu and Okinawa. In this book, he recounts his experiences in response to his sons' questions. This is an excellent first hand account if you can find the book. His activities on Pavuvu as a respite between the horrors of battle is very interesting.

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Trial by Combat!, Braswell D. Deen, Jr., 1984

After a long career on the bench, Judge Deen reflects upon his law career and his service with K-3-1 attacking the Point on Peleliu and his wounding on Okinawa. Excellent personal account of intense action.

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At the Closing of a Day - The Diary of Sgt. Merle Alan Fisher, Gary Fisher, 2010

I received this book from Gary Fisher, a relative of Sgt. Merle Alan Fisher. I thought you could not have diaries in the Pacific but Sgt. Fisher kept one for several years with entries just about ever day. Much of the information is is mundane but on other days it provides a concise summary of the day's action. In just about every entry on Guadalcanal he mentions what enemy bombing occurred that day. You gain a new appreciation how tenable our hold was on Guadalcanal. His last entry was on September 24, 1944 on Peleliu. He died of his wounds on the USS Soace on September 26, 1944.

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Peleliu 1944, Harry A. Gailey, 1983

I had to hunt the Internet to get this used book. This book is considered one of the finest on Peleliu when it was written in 1983. It includes many quotes of other books including Sledge's. In the back of the book is a detailed listing of all of the author's footnote sources. That alone would be a great aid to a researcher of the battle. Gailey did a very thorough job of researching the material.

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Bloody Beaches: The Marines at Peleliu, Gordon D. Gayle, 1996

General Gayle, who was there, provides a detailed account of the battle in a concise pamphlet. He uses historical photos, modern photos, detailed maps and Tom Lea paintings to tell the story. Excellent read for someone unfamiliar with the battle. This pamphlet can be downloaded off the web. General Gayle has been quite helpful in my research on Peleliu.

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The Class of '42 Marines in WWII, Tucker Giblin, 2002

Thanks to Tom McLeod of the Museum of the Pacific, I learned of this book, which you could purchase from the author. Tucker Giblin was with Regimental Weapons Company, 7th Marines. Like many others of his generation, he dropped out of high school to do his patriotic duty. I enjoyed this book because Mr. Giblin provides much historical detail. My uncle and Mr. Giblin were on the same ship during the Peleliu landing. I highly recommend reading his story.

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Peleliu Remembered, Ann Owens Gilliland, 1994

Ms. Gilliland tells the stories of several Marines who were there. Included in this quick read book are numerous personal pictures of the veterans from 1944 to the subsequent reunions on the island. The personal accounts are interesting and I recognized several of the veteran names that have corresponded with me.

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The Devil's Anvil, James H. Hallas, 1994

Hallas does a good job telling the complete story and not pulling any punches. There as several notes and he frequently quotes other books on my list. There are some photos and maps to aid the reader in understanding the battle. He used many firsthand interviews that provide character to a story with many dates and numbers. There is also good information on the Army's Wildcat Division.

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The Assault on Peleliu, Frank Hough, 1950

This is another excellent monograph by Major Hough, who served on Peleliu. This book is frequently quoted by other authors and several of the maps are used in the other books. The book is available from The Battery Press. This is my chief reference book on the battle.

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The Campaign on New Britain, Frank Hough, John Crown, 1952

This book is one of the several monographs produced by the USMC and gives a very detailed treatment of the New Britain campaign. I have not found many books about New Britain so this is the one a researcher should begin with. The Battery Press has reprinted these excellent monographs.

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Coral Comes High, George P. Hunt, 1946

I had a tough time finding this book. It is the story of Capt. Hunt's K/3/1 attempt to capture the "the Point" on the 1st Division's left-most flank on Peleliu. Hunt tells his story and quote the stories of his men when they were cut-off from the rest of the battalion on D-Day. A very good story of bravery and sacrifice.

Love and War Beneath the Southern Cross

The Long Road of War: A Marine's Story of Pacific Combat, James W. Johnson, 1998

James Johnson makes the distinction of those soldiers and marines subjected to constant exposure to flat-trajectory fire. Basically, these are your riflemen and machine gunners under constant risk. This is an autobiography of his experience on New Britain, Peleliu and Okinawa where his squad had 300 percent casualties and a mortality rate of 83 percent. Although he respects the Marine Corps he also has some issues with the Corps as well. For those who enjoy personal accounts this is a good read.

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Marine Pioneers - The Unsung Heros of World War II, Lt. Col. Kerry Lane, 1997

This is the only book I have found on the Marine Pioneers. Kerry Lane was one of them and received the silver star at Suicide Creek on New Britain. An enlisted man at the time, Kerry Lane served at Guadalcanal and New Britain but did not participate in Peleliu. Kerry Lane was kind enough to answer my correspondance in my attempt to learn more about the pioneers. His book is a good first hand account of his action in World War II.

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Helmet For My Pillow: The World War II Classic, Robert Leckie, 1957

I enjoy Robert Leckie's books. In this book, he relates his complete Marine Corps service from Guadalcanal to his short stay on Peleliu. He provides an interesting account of his duty in Australia.

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Strong Men Armed - The United States Marines vs. Japan, Robert Leckie, 1962

Robert Leckie is a Marine Corps veteran and knows his subject well, having participated in several of the battles he writes about. He has written several books and this one has been re-printed so it can be easily obtained from several sources. Leckie makes a point to describe how each Medal of Honor was earned by Marines in World War II. He covers all battles and all divisons and I enjoyed his writing. He will interject his own personal experience when he feels a monograph is wrong. I am interested in reading more of his books.

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The Old Breed - A History of the First Marine Division in World War II, George McMillan, 1949

This is my favorite book which has been re-printed by The Battery Press. It gives ample information on the build-up of the 1st Marine Division just before and after the Pearl Harbor attack. The book covers all 1st Marine Division activity during the war and concludes with the occupation of China. In the back is the story of all 1st Division Medal of Honor winners and a listing of killed in action. I found my uncle's name on the list. The book has many interesting sketches, including some by Tom Lea, and many photographs. However, it is McMillan's writing that is the best.

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Peleliu 1944: The Forgotten Corner of Hell, Jim Moran and Gordon Rottman, 2002

This company publishes many military books and they provide a fine account of the Peleliu battle in this publication. Included with historical photos are illustrations of the battle and three-dimensional drawings of Bloody Nose Ridge. Organizational charts of the units involved help in researching the battle.

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You'll Be Sor-ree!: A Guadalcanal Marine Remembers The Pacific War, Sid Phillips, 2010

When my bus arrived at MCRD, San Diego from the airport loaded with "boots" I heard someone yelling to us from the outside "You'll Be Sor-ree." Sid Phillips gives us his experience at Parris Island and his deployment to the Pacific. In fact he was the good friend of "Sledgehammer" and is one of the characters in the HBO series The Pacific. His autobiography is not so much about the horrors and more about the "good memories." It was like reading about an old friend.

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Fortunate Son — The Autobiography of Lewis B. Puller, Jr., Lewis B. Puller, Jr., 1991

Chesty had one son who was a Marine officer in Vietnam. If you think there is glory in war, read this book. Puller, Jr. was severly wounded during his short tour in Vietnam. He talks about the pressure of being the son of the famous Marine but his struggle with his wounds and alcoholism is tearful reading. At the end of the book he seems to come to grips with his situation but committed suicide a few years later. It was said that Chesty Puller wanted to know how many casualties there were among second lieutenants so to give an indication of the aggressiveness of his men. It must have been extremely difficult to witness his son for the first time when he was returned to a state-side hospital from Vietnam. This book is worth reading.

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Peleliu Tragic Triumph - The Untold Story of The Pacific War's Forgotten Battle, Bill Ross, 1991

I enjoyed this book as well. Ross' position is that Peleliu was ill conceived and should never have been fought. He uses much information that I have not seen before and quote veterans that he has interviewed long after the battle. He discusses the personalities of the commanders and how their actions impacted the nightmare of Peleliu. The book begins with a summary of the battles on Guadalcanal and New Britain. Ross is an experienced combat writer and I recommend the book.

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With the Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa, E. B. Sledge, 1981

This book is dedicated to the memory of Capt. Andrew A. Haldane, company commander of K/3/5 who was killed two days before my uncle. In Assault on Peleliu, Haldane's death is mentioned as "a stranger in some of the strangest territory in the world, he raised his head in an attempt to orient himself - and was killed instantly by a Japanese bullet." In Sledge's book, when he learned of his revered company commander's death, he said "it was the worst grief I endured during the entire war. The intervening years have not lessened it any." Sledge provides not the statistics but the very human story of Peleliu. It is excellent reading and considered one of the best first-hand accounts of battle. I highly recommend it. It was reprinted with a new cover in 2007.

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Brotherhood of Heroes : The Marines at Peleliu, 1944 — The Bloodiest Battle of the Pacific War, Bill Sloan, 2005

Bill Sloan uses interviews with surviving veterans and excerpts from books on Peleliu to tell the human side of this struggle. He devotes much attention to the exploits of K-3-5 but he also gives good coverage to the action at The Point and the attempt to close the Pocket. The author mentions that he wished he would have started his research sooner since a recently deceased veteran had lived only blocks from his house. I have the same feeling of having started my research far too late thereby reducing my chances of finding the one guy who knew my uncle. At the back of the book, Sloan does a nice job referencing his notes. He has obviously done much research. This is a good book about the heroism and camaraderie of these men who took Peleliu.

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The Good War — An Oral History of World War Two, Studs Terkel, 1984

I suggest this book not just because it is a good read and that the author is from Chicago but that it has an interview with E. B. Sledge. This book is a series of interviews from both the battle-front and the home-front. World War II was considered the last good war since we were justified in what we did; however, when you read the articles you might have a different opinion.

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Brothers in Battle: One Marine's Account of War in the Pacific, Richard Bruce Watkins, Capt. USMCR RET, 1992

Brothers in Battle is one Marine's account of war in the Pacific. It written by Richard Bruce Watkins, Capt E/2/1 for his family. He was kind enough to send me an autographed copy. With the help of his wife and daughter, this is a well written memoir relating his experiences on Cape Gloucester, Peleliu and Okinawa. Also included is information on the structure of rifle companies with a division.

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Before the First Wave, Larry L. Woodard, 1994

Before the waves of amphibian tractors landed on Peleliu, a wave of armored amphibian tractors led the way. These tractors, with their stubby 75mm weapon, formed what was called the "zero wave". This book tells the story of the 3rd Armored Amphibian Tractor Battalion on Peleliu and Okinawa. Excellent account but a difficult book to find.