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Posted January 14, 2005
Excellent book on the average Marines who won the war
Manchester makes you feel as if you are there right from the begining of the book to the end. He writes honestly on what it was like and you feel as if you know all the characters. These are the stories of the simple infantry Marines who really won the Pacific war. One of the best books I have read.
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Posted January 12, 2003
I am familiar with William Manchester's historical and biographical works. Death of a President, The Arms of Krupp, American Caesar, The Last Lion I and II, the word 'tome' was created for these books. That's why Goodbye Darkness so intrigued me. How would Manchester approach a memoir? Could Manchester make something very personal to himself, personal to the reader? Would his clinically dispassionate, journalistic style of writing carry into the recounting of his military experience? How would he approach the unapproachable memories of WWII in the Pacific Theater? Could he be as honest with his own memories, as he had been with the lives of the people about which he had written biographies? In typical Manchester style the reader starts with some historical perspective. Manchester tells of his father¿s experience in WWI and his family¿s military roots. Along with this family introduction Manchester sets the scene politically and socially. America is a more Balkanized country with, Segregation, sexual repression, grandfathers who had fought in the Civil War, mothers and fathers living through the Great Depression. Manchester writes of America before the awareness of a global economy and a global responsibility. It is America in a time of simple, God-given, prejudices full of the pleasures of a naïve nation. It is an Euro-centric America where every man has a nickname that introduces him to the rest of the world. Then Manchester blends his trip, in the 1970¿s, to the islands of the Pacific Theater, with the history of the battle¿s fought there, with his own experiences in the USMC. In an effort to maintain his perspective Manchester talks about the Sergeant. The Sergeant is Manchester as a Marine in WWII. The Sergeant is the man who killed. The Sergeant is the man who lost friends. The Sergeant lived in unceasing rain and mud. The Sergeant wondered when and how he¿d die. The Sergeant is the man who hated the enemy. The Sergeant is the man wounded. The Sergeant is the man who returned home to twenty-five years of nightmares. Always, the Sergeant is William Manchester. By creating this character, out of him self and his wartime experience, Manchester can be honest, he can be candid, he is cathartic. Goodbye Darkness is the first of Manchester¿s works I¿ve read where the timeline is incidental, trivial to the human experience. Manchester willingly confesses that his memories of this time in his life are tainted, by injury, by time, and by his decades old struggle to purge them. The fact that after twenty-five years his memories are so intact adds to the trauma of the events. As much as the experiences Manchester had in WWII were traumatic. The author refuses to succumb to maudlin prose. Manchester sprinkles in humorous and human events like his botched attempts to lose his virginity before shipping out. He also outlines the mundane tasks and burdens of the WWII combat Marine. Reading Goodbye Darkness makes other history books seem derivative. When Manchester talks about the Raggedy A-- Marines, the reader is quite sure he coined the term. Finally, Manchester¿s use of the English language and his classical vocabulary, are his ways of honoring the men whom fought and died in the Pacific Theater of WWII. Manchester¿s casual uses of multi-syllabic words, simultaneously distance Manchester from, and draw the reader into the story. His complex sentence structures are a way of forcing the reader to focus on what he has to say. The reader must think as well as feel their way through the battles of Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Siapan, Tinian, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and the myriad of unnamed islands in between. William Manchester¿s Goodbye Darkness solidifies, in my mind, his place in the pantheon of writers. This memoir satisfies completely. The level of intimacy the reader shares with the writer becomes more poignant with 2003¿s climate of looming conflict.
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Posted September 7, 2013
This book should resonate with our brave veterans who fought in
This book should resonate with our brave veterans who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan. Manchester has the tools to bring his story directly to the reader and it's amazing how this book is as fresh and thought provoking as it was when it came out in 1979. I am a Retired Naval officer and a combat vet and in my humble opinion this paints war the way it is. The current generation may be cut out of different raw material than the generation who fought world war 2 but there are common elements to be found: courage, loyalty to your buddies, fear, uncertainty and the desire to do something for someone else besides self. My admiration and respect for the world war 2 generation has only deepened since reading this. This book reaches across generations. I have visited all of the venues he fought in during the Pacific war during my career with the US Navy's Pacific Fleet and it's a shame that a very tiny percentage of Americans visit the battlefields in Guadalcanal, Tawara, Peleliu, Saipan, Guam, Philippines, Iwo Jima and Okinawa. I am still in awe of the feat of arms of our Pacific War veterans fighting and winning under such appalling conditions. Americans should be more mindful of this, and should pay proper respect to these veterans by visiting the far flung memorials all over the Pacific.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted December 14, 2012
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