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[NF] With the Old Breed by E.B. Sledge

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parthianbow
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[NF] With the Old Breed by E.B. Sledge

Post by parthianbow » Wed April 6th, 2011, 11:52 am

I can only imagine how horrific it must be to serve on the frontline in any war. Some books convey that horror better than others. Guy Sajer's iconic account of WW2 German army life on the Russian front, The Forgotten Soldier, is without doubt one of the best. But this book can stand proudly, four square alongside it.

The author, Eugene Sledge, who resigned from officer school to serve as a private in the US Marines, kept illicit notes of his experiences on the islands of Pelelieu and Okinawa. He later used them to write this book. Written in an unassuming but compelling way, it lays out in horrifying detail the depravities of modern war, and the depths to which man can stoop when surrounded by utter carnage. Those with weak stomachs, stay away. I still have some of the images that I read about engraved in my mind's eye. Yet the book is not just about violence. It's also about the comradeship and love that the soldiers felt for each other, and the humour they used to help them survive.

It's an incredible read. I heard about the book because of the HBO miniseries The Pacific. I'm currently reading another book, written by a contemporary of Sledge's, Robert Leckie. Helmet for my Pillowis another absorbing read, although it's written in an entirely different style. Given the reasonable number of books by US veterans about WW2, and I've often wondered why there aren't more accounts of WW2 by British soldiers. I've read the brilliant The Railway Manby Eric Lomax, but not seen much else. Thanks to Amazon's lists, I've recently come across First Light, an account of the Battle of Britain, by a former fighter pilot. I aim to read it soon, and hope and expect that it will live up to the American books.
Ben Kane
Bestselling author of Roman military fiction.
Spartacus - UK release 19 Jan. 2012. US release June 2012.

http://www.benkane.net
Twitter: @benkaneauthor

annis
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Post by annis » Thu April 7th, 2011, 4:49 am

Eugene Sledge was one of the central characters in The Pacific dramatisation, wasn't he? Powerful stuff and pretty honest, even in depicting the traumatic stress and nervous breakdowns. Funnily enough though, despite being closer to home, so to speak, The Pacific didn't resonate with me as strongly as Band of Brothers, which I still think is absolutely compelling. With both series I really liked the way the recorded recollections of the actual servicemen were woven into the story.

Btw, have you ever read William Wharton's WWII novel A Midnight Clear? It kept coming to mind for me while watching the winter scenes in Band of Brothers.

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Post by parthianbow » Thu April 7th, 2011, 8:08 am

Hi Annis

Yes, Eugene Sledge was one of the central characters in the miniseries The Pacific. It was seeing that that prompted me to look into any books that might be out there. I know what you mean about Band of Brothers resonating with you - it does with me, very deeply. Perhaps it's because of the little clips of the real men talking about what happened. The clips of Richard Winters talking are particularly powerful. (Did you know that he'd died recently? In January. :( ) However, I also found The Pacific very moving and powerful. Not as much as BoB, but then I've only watched it once, whereas I've watched BoB in its entirety about 10 times.

I think I've seen the film of A Midnight Clear, but I haven't read the book. Thanks for the recommendation.
Ben Kane
Bestselling author of Roman military fiction.
Spartacus - UK release 19 Jan. 2012. US release June 2012.

http://www.benkane.net
Twitter: @benkaneauthor

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MLE (Emily Cotton)
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Post by MLE (Emily Cotton) » Thu April 7th, 2011, 2:02 pm

Re WWII memoirs by British soldiers, have you read Quartered Safe Out Here: a Recollection of the War in Burma by George MacDonald Fraser?

Quite gripping.

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Post by parthianbow » Thu April 7th, 2011, 7:57 pm

No, MLE, I haven't. Hadn't even heard of it until you mentioned it. Thanks! :)
Ben Kane
Bestselling author of Roman military fiction.
Spartacus - UK release 19 Jan. 2012. US release June 2012.

http://www.benkane.net
Twitter: @benkaneauthor

annis
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Post by annis » Thu April 7th, 2011, 8:15 pm

And then there are John Master's classics Bugles and a Tiger and The Road Past Mandalay...
Last edited by annis on Thu April 7th, 2011, 8:18 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by parthianbow » Thu April 7th, 2011, 8:16 pm

More books! I've read a lot of John Masters' books about the Raj in India, but none of his WW2 fiction. To be honest, I prefer NF when it comes to WW2, I think because it's so recent. But thanks anyway!
Ben Kane
Bestselling author of Roman military fiction.
Spartacus - UK release 19 Jan. 2012. US release June 2012.

http://www.benkane.net
Twitter: @benkaneauthor

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Post by annis » Thu April 7th, 2011, 8:20 pm

These are NF, Ben. They're Masters' memoirs about life as a soldier with the British Indian army on the north-west frontier in the dying days of the Raj, and his experiences during WWII.

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Post by parthianbow » Fri April 8th, 2011, 9:48 am

Ah, I see. Great - they're going on my TBR list, then! Thanks. :)
Ben Kane
Bestselling author of Roman military fiction.
Spartacus - UK release 19 Jan. 2012. US release June 2012.

http://www.benkane.net
Twitter: @benkaneauthor

annis
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Post by annis » Fri April 8th, 2011, 10:16 am

Sorry, don't want to weigh you down with even more books you haven't got time to read :) but I've just started the remarkable WWII memoir of a Scotsman called Alistair Urquhart, called The Forgotten Highlander that I'd have to recommend . This guy's story really is as incredible as the subtitle claims.

"Captured by the Japanese at the surrender of Singapore, Alistair was put to work on the notorious Death railway, and the bridge over the River Kwai, in Burma. Surviving this, he was shipped to Japan, only to be torpedoed by the Americans. After drifting for days he was recaptured and imprisoned at Nagasaki where he saw that city's annihilation but was unaware that it was by the Atomic Bomb".
Last edited by annis on Fri April 8th, 2011, 10:18 am, edited 1 time in total.

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