Island Infernos: The U.S. Army’s Pacific War Odyssey, 1944

John C. McManus. Dutton Caliber, $34 (656p) ISBN 978-0-4514-7506-0
Historian McManus follows Fortitude and Fire with an outstanding second volume in his planned trilogy on the Pacific theater of WWII. Covering the period from the invasion of the Marshall Islands in January 1944 to Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s premature declaration of victory at the Battle of Leyte in December 1944, McManus’s extensive cast of characters includes commanders, officers, enlisted men, and captured soldiers toiling in Japan’s horrendous POW camps. He delves into each island invasion in scrupulous detail, documenting, for instance, how the Army Air Force bombed Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands for seven weeks to prepare for the amphibious assault, which nevertheless devolved into an “incremental slugfest” as outnumbered Japanese soldiers fought ferociously from pillboxes, entrenchments, and the ruins of bombed-out buildings. McManus sheds light on famous battles (Bougainville, Corregidor) as well as lesser-known affairs (Sanananda, Attu), and incisively profiles U.S. military commanders including MacArthur, a brilliant strategist and courageous leader who was also “a man of astonishing pomposity, megalomania and egocentrism.” Distinguished by informative deep dives into logistical and strategic issues and McManus’s storytelling prowess, this is an excellent study of how the U.S. turned the tide of the war in the Pacific. Agent: Michael Congdon, Don Congdon Assoc. (Nov.)
Reviewed on : 09/03/2021
Release date: 11/09/2021
Genre: Nonfiction
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