First Lieutenant Austin Shofner woke up expecting enemy bombers to arrive overhead any second. Just after three a.m. his friend Hugh had burst into the cottage where he was sleeping on the floor and said, “Shof, Shof, wake up. I just got a message in from the CinCPAC saying that war with Japan is to be declared within the hour. I’ve gone through all the Officer of the Day’s instructions, and there isn’t a thing in there about what to do when war is declared.” With the enemy’s strike imminent, Lieutenant Shofner took the next logical step. “Go wake up the old man.”
“Oh,” Hugh replied, “I couldn’t do that.” Even groggy with sleep, Shofner understood his reluctance. The chain of command dictated that Lieutenant Hugh Nutter report to his battalion commander, not directly to the regimental commander. Speaking to a colonel in the Marine Corps was like speaking to God. The situation required it though. “You damn fool, get going, pass the buck up.” At this Hugh took off running into the darkness surrounding the navy base on the Bataan Peninsula in the Philippines.
Shofner followed quickly, running down to the docks, where the enlisted men were billeted in an old warehouse. He saw Hugh stumble into a hole and fall, but he didn’t stop to help. The whistle on the power station sounded. The sentry at the main gate began ringing the old ship’s bell. The men were already awake and shouting when Shofner ran into the barracks and ordered them to fall out. The bugler sounded the Call to Arms. Someone ordered the lights kept off, so as not to give the enemy’s planes a target.
His men needed a few minutes to get dressed and assembled. Shofner ran to find the cooks and get them preparing chow. Then he went to find his battalion commander. Beyond the run-down warehouse where his men bunked, away from the rows of tents pitched on the rifle range where others were billeted, stood the handsome fort built by the Spanish. Its graceful arches had long since been landscaped, so Shofner darted up the road lined by acacia trees to a pathway bordered by brilliant red hibiscus and gardenias. He found some of the senior officers of the Fourth Marine Regiment sitting together. They had received word from Admiral Hart’s headquarters sixty miles away in Manila that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbor. Their calmness surprised him.
Shofner should not have been taken aback. Every man in the room had been expecting war with the Empire of Japan. They had thought the war would start somewhere else, most likely in China. Up until a week ago, their regiment had been based in Shanghai. They had watched the emperor’s troops steadily advance in China over the past few years as more and more divisions of the Imperial Japanese Army landed. The Japanese government had established a puppet government to rule a vast area in northern China it had renamed Manchukuo.
In this companion to the HBO® miniseries—executive produced by Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and Gary Goetzman—Hugh Ambrose reveals the intertwined odysseys of four U.S. Marines and a U.S. Navy carrier pilot during World War II.
Between America’s retreat from China in late November 1941 and the moment General MacArthur’s airplane touched down on the Japanese mainland in August of 1945, five men connected by happenstance fought the key battles of the war against Japan. From the debacle in Bataan, to the miracle at Midway and the relentless vortex of Guadalcanal, their solemn oaths to their country later led one to the Great Marianas Turkey Shoot and the others to the coral strongholds of Peleliu, the black terraces of Iwo Jima and the killing fields of Okinawa, until at last the survivors enjoyed a triumphant, yet uneasy, return home.
In The Pacific(sm), Hugh Ambrose focuses on the real-life stories of five men who put their lives on the line for our country. To deepen the story revealed in the miniseries and go beyond it, the book dares to chart a great ocean of enmity known as the Pacific and the brave men who fought. Some considered war a profession, others enlisted as citizen soldiers. Each man served in a different part of the war, but their respective duties required every ounce of their courage and their strength to defeat an enemy who preferred suicide to surrender. The medals for valor, which were pinned on three of them, came at a shocking price—a price paid in full by all.
Hardcover Book : 512 pages
Publisher: New American Library, Div. of Penguin ( March 02, 2010 )
Item #: 12-857473
Product Dimensions: 6.0 x 9.0 x 1.2inches
Product Weight: 29.0 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
If you'r expecting Band of Brothers, it's not here. I had high expectations for this book, but ultimately it fell short. Difficult to follow the story and entirely to verbose for it's own good.
Reviewer: John L
I love Stephen Ambrose. I think Hugh did a fair job, but ultimately disappointing. There was too little about too much. I would have preferred more on Shofner's imprisonment. It was difficult to follow the story because it jumped around with superflous details that had not connection to the narrative. Having been a "military brat," I am aware how most vets feel about MacArther and they are right. He was a glory hound who endangered his men for headlines. I have not yet seen the HBO series. I loved the series and book, "Band of Brothers," so I hope I will not be disappointed.
Reviewer: Carol C
If you would like a book on Shofner's prison experiences and escape after Corrigidor, read Escape From Davao by John D. Lukacs.
Reviewer: Norman W
I guess the jacket admonition "a companion book to the HBO Series!" should have tipped me off, but ultimately there are an enormous number of words here, without a great deal of additional detail on the changing circumstances of the Pacific War and it's effect on the protagonists. Perhaps it's an unfair comparison, but Hugh Ambrose seems to have gotten his father's writing style (spare, direct, compact) down pat, but hasn't really bothered to go into a further layer of depth on tactics, weapons, operational maneuvers, etc. that would have been part and parcel of Ambrose Sr.'s work. Stick with Bob Leckie, Gene Sledge et al for some better detail.
Great book, much better than the movie series. I agree too many aspects covered by the book. It would have been better being a two volume set, too many aspects being covered by the one book.