by Bruce Petty
McFarland & Company 2001
index, maps & photographs
Cover Price: $45.00
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Oral Histories of the Pacific War
A compilation of over forty oral histories that are connected to Saipan during WWII. The first half of the book, "Micronesian Voices" is made up of the oral histories of Pacific Islanders. The second half, "American Voices" are oral histories of American military veterans and family members on the home front. Each account is entirely in the words of the people interviewed. Their experiences run the gamut of emotions, from horrific hardship, to triumph and bonds of friendship, and sometimes even humor.
The book has an excellent introduction that covers the pre-war history of the Marianas islands, as well as Micronesia in general, and includes detailed maps. The book is lavishly illustrated with photographs, many of which were taken by the author during his many on site explorations. They include war wreckage as well as photos of those interviewed.
Most of the book deals specifically with the island of Saipan. However, other islands and island groups are included, such as Tinian, Guam, Rota, Yap, and Palau. It is impossible to pick up this book and not feel profound emotions. As a work of oral history it is an important read. It honors the past while giving the reader plenty of new insights and perspectives to ponder.
Review by Justin Taylan