With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa

With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa


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“Eugene Sledge became more than a legend with his memoir, With The Old Breed. He became a chronicler, a historian, a storyteller who turns the extremes of the war in the Pacific—the terror, the camaraderie, the banal and the extraordinary—into terms we mortals can grasp.”—Tom Hanks


In The Wall Street Journal, Victor Davis Hanson named With the Old Breed one of the top five books on epic twentieth-century battles. Studs Terkel interviewed the author for his definitive oral history, The Good War. Now E. B. Sledge’s acclaimed first-person account of fighting at Peleliu and Okinawa returns to thrill, edify, and inspire a new generation.

An Alabama boy steeped in American history and enamored of such heroes as George Washington and Daniel Boone, Eugene B. Sledge became part of the war’s famous 1st Marine Division—3rd Battalion, 5th Marines. Even after intense training, he was shocked to be thrown into the battle of Peleliu, where “the world was a nightmare of flashes, explosions, and snapping bullets.” By the time Sledge hit the hell of Okinawa, he was a combat vet, still filled with fear but no longer with panic.

Based on notes Sledge secretly kept in a copy of the New Testament, With the Old Breed captures with utter simplicity and searing honesty the experience of a soldier in the fierce Pacific Theater. Here is what saved, threatened, and changed his life. Here, too, is the story of how he learned to hate and kill—and came to love—his fellow man.

“In all the literature on the Second World War, there is not a more honest, realistic or moving memoir than Eugene Sledge’s. This is the real deal, the real war: unvarnished, brutal, without a shred of sentimentality or false patriotism, a profound primer on what it actually was like to be in that war. It is a classic that will outlive all the armchair generals’ safe accounts of—not the ‘good war’—but the worst war ever.”—Ken Burns

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780891419068
Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
Publication date: 05/01/2007
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 352
Sales rank: 16,496
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.00(d)

About the Author

E. B. “Sledgehammer” Sledge was born and grew up in Mobile. In late 1943 he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps. After basic training, he was sent to the Pacific Theater where he fought at Peleliu and Okinawa, two of the fiercest battles of World War II. Following the Japanese surrender, Sledge served in China as part of the occupation force. Upon his return home, he obtained a Ph.D. in biology and joined the faculty of Alabama College (later the University of Montevallo), where he taught until retirement. Sledge initially wrote about his war experiences to explain them to his family, but he was persuaded by his wife to seek publication. Sledge died on March 3, 2001.

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

Excerpted from "With the Old Breed"
by .
Copyright © 2007 E.B. Sledge.
Excerpted by permission of Random House Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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With the Old Breed 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 521 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Sledge carried his war experiences around with him for decades before he was able to rehash his experiences, assisted by notes he wrote in the pages of his Bible. He wrote With the Old Breed as a sort of explanation to his family of what he went through. Luckily for the rest of us, it got published--all the grit, blood, death and fear of the battles for Peleliu and Okinawa. It wasn't uncommon for young men of his generation to volunteer for service the day after Pearl Harbor (not that many waited to be drafted, and almost nobody dodged the draft in those days), or as soon as they came of age. Sledge waited a year before enlisting, went through training as a mortarman and arrived just in time for the battle of Peleliu. Sledge witnessed a whole lot, none of it glorious. In short, he saw combat bring out the best and worst of human nature, and you'll see it, too, through his eyes. Some war veterans tend to gloss over the horrific gore of combat, particularly veterans of WWII, but Eugene Sledge holds nothing back. Perhaps that's why many reviewers consider this the best war memoir written. I highly recommend this book.
1HistoryBuff More than 1 year ago
This is the best first person book on the Pacific war in World War Two that I have ever read. To be fair, I have many more books on the ETO, but this book stands out as a moving account of the miseries of the common soldier who fought eyeball to eyeball with his Japanese counterparts in the steamy jungles. Eugene Sledge is an example of American manhood that I fear is lost. A young man from a good family who was anxious to defend his country, he and his fellow Marines willingly suffered for their country in a way I doubt many young people today would. I hope I'm wrong. I've found the most moving stories of WWII don't come from historians, but from the common fighting man. This is one of the best.
Mr.Krinkle More than 1 year ago
No doubt the greatest book I have ever read. Leaving no emotion untouched, Sledge strips away any notion of glory in battle. I understand war is brutal and senseless, but I now have a new outlook that reinforces that opinion. Should be read by students and anyone who wants to join the military. Praise those who were forced to endure battle. No one can fully grasp the experience, without being there. I do know that I would be very reluctant to.
legacyshooter More than 1 year ago
Sledgehammer describes the two Sosuth Pacific battles he was part of as a Marine in the First Marine Division during World War II. Since I am a Marine who served in the Vietnam War, I am fully aware of how puny our efforts were when compared to the men who served in the Pacific and those who were at the Cosen Reservoir during the Korean War. I had a first hand experience in combat during my two and one-half years with the Frst Marine Division but after reading this book I am left with the understanding of what a real war is like and of what supremen the Marines of those days were. I am very conservative concerning the use of the descriptive noun "hero" and will not use it here. Certainly there were heroes aplenty in that effort just as there were in Korea and Vietnam. What most of you don't seem to understand is that very few of us who served were not heroes. Most of us did nothing heroic. We just did what at the officers told us to do. That is the way this book unfolds. Sledge and his buddies in third battalion of the Fifth Marine Regiment were just ground pounders doing their duty. The unique perspective Sledge uses in this book will put you in a place you will not likely enjoy occupying. I hope you do not have a weak stomach and you have not eaten recently when he describes digging in during the assaults around Shuri on Okinawa. I have had people ask me what combat was like in Vietnam. I have never been able to explain it. I don't suppose I ever will. Since I cannot do it, I can point those curious souls to is book. That is more than enough. As a fellow Marine, I am very glad that EB Sledge took and kept all those notes. If you want to understand there are nor has there ever been any John Waynes or Rambos in combat just give this book a read.
Pogeybait More than 1 year ago
"With the Old Breed" is one of the best books that I have read about WWII. Mr. Sledge put you in the foxhole with him. He even takes time to describe the weapons being used. After reading this book, one has to wonder how a human could do what they did. Being a former Marine, I know about the Marine Corps training and I am sure that it had something to do with what happened on those islands. Semper Fi, Mr. Sledge, Bravo!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The book gives you a personal insight of the Pacific war front from a soldier who lived a breathed all the experiences that impacted his life. The experience and emotion is passed on to the reader in a way that helps you better understand how difficult life was for these heros.
Guest More than 1 year ago
After watching Ken Burns 'The War' and the accounts attributed to E. B. Sledge, I had to read his book. What an amazing story that everyone should read. Concise, well-written, and heart breaking in the sorrow our troops go through in war. Bless everyone in uniform.
Guest More than 1 year ago
These marines did what they had to do. I also had no compassion for the Japanese for what they did to our soldiers during WW II. What these Marines did was retribution for the sadistic way the Japanese treated our wounded and prisoners of WAR Way to go MARINE Eugene Sledge
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Most of these war stories are hard to understand unless you are of a military mind. This is one that is easy to read and to understand whether a veteran of combat like myself or not. Knowing that he is one of the characters portrayed in the HBO series 'Pacific" adds to the feeling of being at home with him and a friend of his throughout this book.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If you love the USMC, then you'll love this book. It's a gripping and compelling memoir of a Marine and his life on Peleliu and Okinawa. As a fellow Marine, I definitely have a new respect after reading this non fiction for the pacific theater and the Marines that went through the war. Love this book, and highly recommend if you are a WWII buff or a Marine lover.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great book! Well written, easy to follow. After I finished reading the book, I flipped through a paperback version in a bookstore. There were lots of photos that were not in the ebook. I contactd BN and the publisher. The publisher doesnt have the electronic rights to the photos, so they are not in the ebook. BN blames the publisher. I blame them both, had I known I would have bought the paperback. There was no warning, however when an ebook is enhanced they are quick to point that out.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a veteran of World War II having served as an infantry rifleman in the 328th Infantry Regiment in the European theatre. I am proud of my service in combat against the German Army but after reading this book, I am convinced that what I experienced was child's play compared to the suffering and horrors descibed by the author of this book. His descriptions of the filth and stench of battle are authentic but at the same time beyond belief. This is unquestionably the best anti-war book you could possibly read. Bravo to Sledgehammer and the Marines!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I saw "The Pacific" before reading this book. I loved the mini-series and thought I was moved, then I read Sledge's book. It was real, from a real marine's viewpoint and real feelings and fears. I thank him for passing on his story to me. I will always cherish it as part of my library.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A great recounting of on man’s experiences detailing what he documented during his time in U. S. Marines in the Pacific campaign in WWII. Excellent reading. Once I started reading it, I couldn’t put it down!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This was a well written first hand account of some of the most historic battles in our nations history. Sledge did not glamorize war, but vividly described it as he saw it. This was a great read, and a chance to see these epic battles through a veterans eyes.
howellusmc More than 1 year ago
As a young man, Eugene Sledge joined the US Marines "to do his bit" in World War II and because of his choice of the Marine Corps, he was sent to fight in the Pacific War against the Japanese. "With the Old Breed" describes his experiences in two of the nastier campaigns in that theatre, Pelelieu and Okinawa. There was nothing civilized about the Pacific war. Lives were thrown away on both sides for possession of tiny islands with a reckless abandon that matches the waste of the Great War. It was fought with a savagery and hate that beggars belief and Sledge pulls no punches in describing the horror. There are notes at the end of each chapter that add a little context, but Sledge wrote the account from the point of view of a young Marine, working from a battle diary that he kept in his pocket bible. He had little or no idea of the big picture and in most cases he had no idea of what was going on. His perspective comes from over the sights of his rifle; all he can see is the wall of his foxhole, the bodies of friends and foe scattered around him. All he can hear is the rattle of rifle fire, the screech and crash of artillery and the screams of the dying. Sledge fully understood his position in all of this. He also understood the horror and waste of what was happening around him and he conveys the brutality and futility very well.
monet61 More than 1 year ago
I have been looking for this book for a long time. It is a well written diary of a regular guy and his mates during the two battles in the title. Any one who has served in a combat unit will recognize people from their unit, and perhaps even themselves. I highly recommend it.
MameWI More than 1 year ago
Everyone should read this book - you will be enlightened by what our brave men and women go thru to protect us - Highly Recommended - a must read!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Perfect for 10+ great book i loved it
ionestjames More than 1 year ago
Again, this is a book I had to read for my class on WWII here at school and I absolutely fell in love with it. I'm a sucker for well written account of battles during World War II and life in the military. The detail that Sledge goes into is incredible. He remembers every single detail and the description is so vivid that I actually believe I am there on Pavuvu, Peleliu, and Okinawa. I can really see, after reading this book, why HBO picked it up and made it into a miniseries, just like Band of Brothers. The battles at Peleliu and Okinawa were brutal and some of the worst that occurred in the Pacific. Many men returned scarred for life, refusing to even hear the words "Asia," "Japan," and "war." Many were even put into homes for veterans (some even checked themselves in) and most were young men in their early-late twenties and thirties. I think this book is a great testament to those who fought, died, and survived the horrors in the Pacific. I would definitely recommend this book to anyone and everyone. I would advise that there are graphic scenes in this book and I would caution those with weak constitutions to avoid this book. Or at least avoid the moments of "graphic"-ness...
Elizabeth Alaniz More than 1 year ago
A must read for anyone who really wants to know what combat looks like, smells like and feels like should read this book. Sledge writes an honest story and pulls no punches. If you have ever served in combat especially in the infantry you will see that while years pass, weapons evolve and tactics change combat remains the same.
Anonymous 10 months ago
This is a timeless classic and a must read for every American and Leader. The word picture painted by E. B. "Sledgehammer" Sledge brings the horrors, triumphs, courage, leadership, and sacrifice of the Greatest Generation to life.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is realy well told and is a realy good story
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
In clear and simple language Sledge outlines the horrors and futility confronted by his brave Marine comrades. War from the front line in all its detail and gore and reality and not as portrayed in the sanatized campaign histories of the arm chair generals.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It is one of the best accounts of war I have ever read! No hype or fan fare just down to earth gritty unfiltered facts and experiences of one marine and his fellow marines.