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Good-Bye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War

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In this intensely powerful memoir, America's preeminent biographer-historian, who has written so brilliantly about World War II in his acclaimed lives of General Douglas MacArthur (American Caesar) and Winston Churchill (The Last Lion), looks back at his own early life and offers an unrivaled firsthand account of World War II in the Pacific, of what it looked like, sounded like, smelled like, and, most of all, what it felt like to one who underwent all but the ultimate of its ...
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First Fair [ No Hassle 30 Day Returns ] [ Edition: First ] [ Water Damage: SLIGHT doesn't affect use ] Publisher: Little Brown and Company Pub Date: 1/1/1980 Binding: Hardcover ... Pages: 401. Read more Show Less

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Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War

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Overview

In this intensely powerful memoir, America's preeminent biographer-historian, who has written so brilliantly about World War II in his acclaimed lives of General Douglas MacArthur (American Caesar) and Winston Churchill (The Last Lion), looks back at his own early life and offers an unrivaled firsthand account of World War II in the Pacific, of what it looked like, sounded like, smelled like, and, most of all, what it felt like to one who underwent all but the ultimate of its experiences.
Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780316545013
  • Publisher: Little, Brown and Company
  • Publication date: 9/1/1980
  • Edition description: 1st ed
  • Pages: 384

Read an Excerpt

Goodbye, Darkness


By William Manchester

Back Bay Books

Copyright © 1980 William Manchester
All right reserved.

ISBN: 0-316-50111-5


Chapter One

Blood That Never Dried

Our Boeing 747 has been fleeing westward from darkened California, racing across the Pacific toward the sun, the incandescent eye of God, but slowly, three hours later than West Coast time, twilight gathers outside, veil upon lilac veil. This is what the French call l'heure bleue. Aquamarine becomes turquoise; turquoise, lavendar; lavendar, violet; violet, magenta; magenta, mulberry. Seen through my cocktail glass, the light fades as it deepens; it becomes opalescent, crepuscular. In the last waning moments of the day I can still feel the failing sunlight on my cheek, taste it in my martini. The plane rises before a spindrift; the darkening sky, broken by clouds like combers, boils and foams overhead. Then the whole weight of evening falls upon me. Old memories, phantoms repressed for more than a third of a century, begin to stir. I can almost hear the rhythm of surf on distant snow-white beaches. I have another drink, and then I learn, for the hundredth time, that you can't drown your troubles, not the real ones, because if they are real they can swim. One of my worst recollections, one I had buried in my deepest memory bank long ago, comes back with a clarity so blinding that I surge forward against the seat belt, appalled by it, filled with remorse and shame.

I am remembering the first man I slew.

There was this little hut on Motobu, perched atop a low rise overlooking the East China Sea. It was a fisherman's shack, so ordinary that scarcely anyone had noticed it. I did. I noticed it because I happened to glance in that direction at a crucial moment. The hut lay between us and B Company of the First Battalion. Word had been passed that that company had been taking sniper losses. They thought the sharpshooters were in spider holes, Jap foxholes, but as I was looking that way, I saw two B Company guys drop, and from the angle of their fall I knew the firing had to come from a window on the other side of that hut. At the same time, I saw that the shack had windows on our side, which meant that once the rifleman had B Company pinned down, he could turn toward us. I was dug in with Barney Cobb. We had excellent defilade ahead and the Twenty-second Marines on our right flank, but we had no protection from the hut, and our hole wasn't deep enough to let us sweat it out. Every time I glanced at that shack I was looking into the empty eye socket of death.

The situation was as clear as the deduction from a euclidean theorem, but my psychological state was extremely complicated. S. L. A. Marshall once observed that the typical fighting man is often at a disadvantage because he "comes from a civilization in which aggression, connected with the taking of life, is prohibited and unacceptable. "This was especially true of me, whose horror of violence had been so deep-seated that I had been unable to trade punches with other boys. But since then life had become cheaper to me. "Two thousand pounds of education drops to a ten rupee," wrote Kipling of the fighting on India's North-West Frontier. My plight was not unlike that described by the famous sign in the Paris zoo: "Warning: this animal is vicious; when attacked, it defends itself." I was responding to a basic biological principle first set down by the German zoologist Heini Hediger in his Skizzen zu einer Tierpsychologie um und im Zirkus. Hediger noted that beyond a certain distance, which varies from one species to another, an animal will retreat, while within it, it will attack. He called these "flight distance" and "critical distance." Obviously I was within critical distance of the hut. It was time to bar the bridge, stick a finger in the dike-to do something. I could be quick or I could be dead.

(Continues...)



Excerpted from Goodbye, Darkness by William Manchester Copyright © 1980 by William Manchester. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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Table of Contents

Illustrations xiii
Preamble: Blood That Never Dried 3
Prologue: The Wind-Grieved Ghost 9
Able: From the Argonne to Pearl Harbor 15
Baker: Arizona, I Remember You 37
Charlie: Ghastly Remnants of Its Last Gaunt Garrison 55
Dog: The Rim of Darkness 77
Easy: The Raggedy Ass Marines 119
Fox: The Canal 159
George: Les Braves Gens 215
How: We Are Living Very Fast 255
Item: I Will Lay Me Down for to Bleed a While ... 305
Jig: ... Then I'll Rise and Fight with You Again 349
Author's Note 397
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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 14 )
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Sort by: Showing all of 14 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted November 16, 2012

    Explains a lot

    I read this book several years ago after my father-in-law died.
    He was a 1st Division Marine in the Pacific theater like the author. Like W.Manchester he couldn't talk about his WWII experiences. Even though I was a Marine during the Vietnam war, dating his daughter.
    One of the best books I have ever read in my 66 years. I will now read it again on my NOOK and pass my hardcover copy on to a family member who lost a USMC uncle in the Vietnam conflict.

    3 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 4, 2010

    Best book ever

    Have read this book over and over again. Hypnotizing. Have given many times as gifts. The only other book to compare is"Berlin Diary.". Highly recommend both.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 13, 2011

    Slow and plodding

    0 out of 3 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted February 8, 2011

    Highly recommended

    Probably one of the most interesting reads I have had in a while - a historian looks into himself, and finds... himself. Fascinating tribute to the lives given for our country in SE Asia. ~I may spend a lifetime, but I am gradually learning to understand my father's generation...

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
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    Posted September 17, 2010

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    Posted June 23, 2014

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    Posted November 19, 2010

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    Posted February 19, 2011

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