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"Pacific Alamo", a Book Review

Discussion in 'The Pacific and CBI' started by George Patton, Jan 7, 2013.

  1. George Patton

    George Patton Canadian Refugee

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    "Pacific Alamo" by John Wukovits is about the Battle of Wake Island and those who fought there. It relies heavily upon first-person accounts of the battle, and extensively chronicles the 'key' interviewees before, after and during the battle. The 'supplemental' content (ie: not the battle itself) takes up a good chunk of the book, and includes such information as a detailed history of the island and biographies of the key participants. The book is 320 pages long -- I read most of it on a four hour flight.

    The Good:
    • A nice, relatively concise book about WWII that places a heavy emphasis on the participants while at the same time detailing a specific battle.
    • The first-person insight is quite valuable, and gives added depth to the information already out there.
    • Well-written. Its rare to find an 'edge of your seat' history book, but this comes close. After reading the book, you almost feel as though you were in the battle.
    • Doesn't focus too much on 'summarizing' the other events that are not central to the battle, but at the same time provides enough information so that even a novice should be able to follow it. In many books I've seen authors go hopelessly off-track describing events that aren't directly related to the subject of the book.
    • Devotes a lot of space to describing the civillians on the island, and not just the Marines.
    • Doesn't tarnish or sideline Commander Cunningham's role in the battle, and attempts to 'restore' his reputation. Cunningham was largely forgotten in the American press (even while the battle was still ongoing), and this was furthered by the publication of several books that sidelined him after the war (Major Devereux's book is one of these).
    • The book doesn't end when the Americans surrendered. Instead it follows the POW's three years of captivity in Asia, the fate of those remaining on the island, the role Wake played later in the war and the eventual Japanese surrender.

    The Bad:
    • I'd like more emphasis on the battle rather than long biographical sketches of the interviewees. The battle only took up about 100 pages (if I recall correctly). This seems counterproductive for a book about the battle.
    • I feel that Wukovits goes 'overboard' with the graphic detail. It didn't add much to the book for me, and I found some of it to be distracting after a while. In my opinion, several lines describing the decomposition of KIAs and the gruesome finds made after the battle were not necessary .

    Summary:
    • Overall this is a very good, well-written and well-rounded book. It doesn't reveal much new information, but instead forms a fairly complete picture of a pivotal early-war battle. Its length makes it an easy 'weekend' (or in my case, 1 day) read. I have a hard time seeing how anyone can go wrong with it. Rating: 4.5/5
     
    syscom3 and belasar like this.
  2. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    Another fine review. Sounds like a good read.
     

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