Crisis in the Pacific

Gerald Astor, Author Dutton Books $27.95 (496p) ISBN 978-1-55611-484-7
War's raw brutality pours over the pages of Astor's fourth book (after Operation Iceberg) to chronicle WWII combat by drawing heavily on firsthand accounts of American vets. In examining the Philippines' fall to the Japanese in 1941-1942, the consequent suffering of civilians and American POWs and the U.S. counterattack in 1944, Astor criticizes Douglas MacArthur's judgment in the war's initial stages, defends his decision to counterattack and considers pointless his later extension of operations to the southern islands. The author's more valuable work here, however, is his reconstruction of the frontline experience. Astor's evocative descriptions of jungle fighting highlight the fact that, even in an age of technology, ground combat in the Pacific was primarily man-to-man. American flexibility and initiative at all levels eventually triumphed, but as Astor makes clear in this dramatic narrative, the physical and emotional costs of defeating the Japanese were as high as those incurred in the struggle against any other foe in U.S. history. Maps, photographs. (May)
Reviewed on: 04/01/1996
Release date: 04/01/1996
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