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by Eric Hammel
Pacifica Press 2000
Index, photos, force list, maps
Order this book online
Guadalcanal was the classic three-dimensional campaign. On land, at sea, and in the air, fierce battles were fought with both sides stretching their supplies and equipment to the breaking point. The campaign lasted six months, involved nearly one million men, and stopped Japanese expansion in the Pacific. When the campaign began on August 7, 1942, no one on either side quite knew how to conduct it, as Eric Hammel reveals in his account.
Guadalcanal: Starvation Island
Read about the remains of the fleeing British administration and colonials, who either by choice or because they were unable to escape in time became "Coastwatcher" observing Japanese sea and air movements and radioing reports to the Allies. Their intelligence would give the Allies the advantage to prepare for raids well in advance, but this information came at a price - the Japanese hunted the Coastwatchers who were dependent on local Solomon Islanders for support, and infrequent supply drops from planes or submarines to support their efforts.
Confusion on Both Side
Soon, American had problems of their own. Poor intelligence and maps meant the Marines were in the dark, few Europeans planners has access to had ever spent any significant time on the island. For instance, pre-invasion maps put Mt. Austern as an objective 100's of feet from the shore. In reality, it was eight miles away!
Logistics and supply problems on the beach rapidly became apparent. Supplies were unloaded faster than they could be managed. Soon, the entire beach area was dangerously crowded with supplies. The situation was so acute that even combat Marines were asked to help haul supplies!
During their darkest day, Marines were forced to eat captured rice for three meals a day. Jittery nightwatches led to American casualties. Japanese air raids, and shore bombardment racked the beachhead on many occasions. At one point, a Japanese submarine even fired on a patrol of Marines on the shore with its deck gun! Anecdotes like these are found throughout the book, and have not received mention in other histories of the campaign.
A Comprehensive Tome
Survivor's accounts bring us into the heart of the battle and portray the fighting accurately, realistically, and powerfully. Guadalcanal: Starvation Island follows the men and the commanders of this decisive World War II campaign in an integrated, brilliantly told narrative of the desperate struggle.
This is a comprehensive tome. Readers who are familiar with history of Guadalcanal, or those who are new to the subject will both find plenty exciting about this book, and gain a new appreciation for the violence and intensity of the fighting while reading a book that is difficult to put down.
Review by Justin Taylan
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