Monday, June 28, 2010

Off Topic: New and Noteworthy--- WW2: Survivors' Testimony

The Pacific: Hell Was An Ocean Way, Hugh Ambrose, New American Library (NAL) Company, end notes, illustrations, maps, 490 pp., 2010, $26.95.

Yes, the author is Stephen Ambrose son. Like father, like son? Yes, trained in history and a fine writer. Is this a tie-in-to-a-movie book? Yes. Which came first the film or the book? It is not clear. Hugh Ambrose, historian, has been working in the WW2 field as historian, museum director, tour guide for over a decade. He has had a working relationship with Steven Spielberg and Tom Hanks before this project. The bottom line is that the books stands very well apart from the HBO series which I have yet to view.

The Pacific is reminiscent of Stud's Turkel's The Good War which is one of the finest oral histories on the war and possibly one of the finest collection of participant testimonies from the 20th century. Ambrose notes that his book has more characters than the video series. As an infrequent reader in WW2 history, especially the Pacific Theater, The Pacific pleased CWL. The pacing is steady, no push-shove between the narratives and no abrupt transitions. Military and civilian testimonies are balanced and reinforce each other. The adventures are harrowing; the capture of Corregidor, the Bataan Death March, the imprisonment of the survivors, and their successful and unsuccessful escapes are memorable and heartbreaking.

Medals, marines, massacres, and MacArthur; Ambrose takes sides without being heavy handed. For those who appreciate eyewitness stories, The Pacific offers 450 pages of thoughtful and reflective testimonies that underscores that war is indeed Hell.

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