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Posted on Apr 17, 2007 in Books and Movies, Front Page Features

Pacific Warriors – Book Review

By Ed Brown

pw.jpgBook Review – Pacific Warriors, The U.S. Marines in World War II: A Pictorial Tribute
by Eric Hammel, Zenith Press, 2005, MBI Publishing, St Paul, MN, ISBN-13: 978-7603-2097-6, ISBN-10: 0-7603-2097-7

At first glance, the physical appearance of Pacific Warriors is enticing, being in a large format, suggesting there is content to match the book’s size. However upon opening and scanning through the book, I was at first disappointed. There was way too much white space on the pages, text was sparse, and many photos were merely snapshot in size.


I read the introduction before diving in, and was excited by the prospect of discovering the author’s interpretation of what made the Marines different from everyone else. I began to read, but found myself jumping around the book, finding it difficult to focus on the text. I found myself skimming through the pages until I saw an intriguing image, then read the related text. I did this until I had read about three-quarters of the book, which, I discovered, had taken about three or four weeks. I was a bit frustrated. Being a Marine, and interested, of course, in all things "Marine", I thought how could this not be of interest? Eventually, I buckled down, and began to read the book cover to cover. That took me about three or four hours.

In a word, I was disappointed in the book as it had not lived up to my expectations. Nowhere did I find any revelation as to what made the Marines so special. I stepped away from the book review to try to find a way to extol its virtues, while covering its warts.

Finally, after a number of conversations with interested parties, it became clear to me what the book was and wasn’t. First, the book is not a comprehensive history of the Marines in the Pacific in World War II. It is does not, unfortunately answer the question posed in the introduction.

Pacific Warriors is a good introduction to those who are just getting interested in studying the period and the theater and as such is a good primer for those interested in the Marines in World War II. As a survey of the battles the Marines fought as they moved across the Pacific to ultimate victory, it is an excellent resource for images rearely or ever seen publicly since the end of the war and this where the book has true value.

The author spent much time in the National and Marine archives to find the right photos for the book – I have seen and read many books on the Marines, and found I had not seen most of the photos presented. Many look familiar, and they should be, even those I hadn’t seen before. Whether or not you have seen the iconic photo of the Marine racing up a beach on Okinawa, you will find that it was a scene repeated many times before and since, and of course, as a result, captured many times captured for posterity, and some of those are included in Pacific Warriors.