During combat, soldiers are forbidden from keeping journals, notes, or any other form of correspondence which may prove valuable to the enemy were it to fall into the wrong hands. Private Eugene Sledge knew this rule and knew the consequences of violating such orders. However, Sledge had the future in mind. He did not want to simply forget about the horrors, the comradely, the bravery, and the sacrifice that was being made on a day to day basis. The young Private, only 19 years of age, began writing a journal in the margins of his pocket-sized Bible, and did not hold anything back. After the war, he quickly wrote his story on a typewriter in his study, and buried it inside of his files for several decades. Then after reading a book which told a similar story to his, he decided to publish the story, and what he wrote was nothing short of incredible.
Private Eugene Sledge was only 18 when he enlisted in the Marine Corps. He was assigned to be a 60 mm mortar man while part of K Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marines, 1st Marine Division (K/3/5). With no combat experience, he was thrown into what proved to be one of the bloodiest battles of the war. The landing on Peleliu and the battles which ensued claimed nearly 2,000 American, and 10,000 Japanese lives. The physical and psychological horrors witnessed by the young marine were mind-numbing. Sledge takes the reader step by step as he encounters death, filth, and agony worse than anything you and I can imagine in our worst nightmares.
Throughout the novel, Sledge witnesses the deaths of longtime friends, leaders, and comrades. He describes acts of heroism and sacrifice which defy description, and manages to put into words that the rest of us can understand. His story will make you rethink the concept of war, and what it means to our nation's young men and women when we send them overseas to fight. Wars have always been fought, and in all likelihood will continue to be fought for mankind's existence, but thanks to a novel such as this one by Pvt. Eugene Sledge, perhaps we can all come to realize just how senseless conflict like this truly is. And possibly one day his words will get across and make people rethink the idea of war, and use it as an absolute last resort.
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