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Killing the Rising Sun: How America Vanquished World War II Japan

Killing the Rising Sun: How America Vanquished World War II Japan

3.8 61
by Bill O'Reilly, Martin Dugard

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The powerful and riveting new book in the multimillion-selling Killing series by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

Autumn 1944. World War II is nearly over in Europe but is escalating in the Pacific, where American soldiers face an opponent who will go to any length to avoid defeat. The Japanese army follows the samurai code


The powerful and riveting new book in the multimillion-selling Killing series by Bill O’Reilly and Martin Dugard

Autumn 1944. World War II is nearly over in Europe but is escalating in the Pacific, where American soldiers face an opponent who will go to any length to avoid defeat. The Japanese army follows the samurai code of Bushido, stipulating that surrender is a form of dishonor. Killing the Rising Sun takes readers to the bloody tropical-island battlefields of Peleliu and Iwo Jima and to the embattled Philippines, where General Douglas MacArthur has made a triumphant return and is plotting a full-scale invasion of Japan.

Across the globe in Los Alamos, New Mexico, Dr. J. Robert Oppenheimer and his team of scientists are preparing to test the deadliest weapon known to mankind. In Washington, DC, FDR dies in office and Harry Truman ascends to the presidency, only to face the most important political decision in history: whether to use that weapon. And in Tokyo, Emperor Hirohito, who is considered a deity by his subjects, refuses to surrender, despite a massive and mounting death toll. Told in the same page-turning style of Killing Lincoln, Killing Kennedy, Killing Jesus, Killing Patton, and Killing Reagan, this epic saga details the final moments of World War II like never before.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

“An enthralling, gripping account of the bloody battles, huge decisions, and historic personalities that culminated in the decision to drop the atomic bomb and brought the war in the Pacific to its climactic end. A masterful, meticulously researched work that captures the barbarity of the war waged by those who swore allegiance to the Japanese Emperor – and by those who crushed the military might of the Rising Sun.”

General David H. Petraeus, commander of the surge in Iraq (2007-8) and coalition forces in Afghanistan (2010-2011)

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Holt, Henry & Company, Inc.
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6.40(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.30(d)

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Killing the Rising Sun

How America Vanquished World War II Japan

By Bill O'Reilly, Martin Dugard

Henry Holt and Company

Copyright © 2016 Henry Holt
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-1-62779-063-5


Peleliu, Caroline Islands Pacific Ocean September 15, 1944 0832 Hours

Destruction is near for the empire.

The morning heat is so unbearable that Corporal Lewis Kenneth Bausell, USMC, has trouble breathing. He is huddled inside an amphibious landing vehicle with a dozen other marines of the First Battalion, headed for the section of Japanese-held beach code-named Orange One. Even this early in the morning, the temperature hovers at 100 degrees. The Americans are sweating profusely as their armored craft brings them ever closer to the sand. But heat is not the only factor — some of the perspiration is from nerves. These marines understand that they may soon die or be maimed for life and few will ever know what happened to them.

Unlike in the much more publicized war in Europe, where reporters like Ernie Pyle and Edward R. Murrow are making names for themselves by covering every aspect of the fighting, there are few journalists or photographers hitting this remote beach today. The crucial upcoming battle against the Japanese will be waged in near anonymity.

Peleliu is important because of its airstrip, a hard-surfaced field capable of launching long-range fighter-bombers. The island is just six miles long and two miles wide, but the terrain is exceptionally rugged, a film of thin soil laid atop coral and limestone. A thousand yards off the beach rise the jungle-covered Umurbrogol ridges, a series of low, jagged peaks forming the island's spine. The Japanese have long coveted tiny, remote Peleliu, first taking possession of the empty island in 1914. For two decades it remained basically unused, but with the war came renewed awareness of its tactical importance. Since this past summer, knowing that the Americans would soon attack, the Japanese have labored to transform Peleliu into a fortress.

Most American marines could not care less about the history of Peleliu. Each man approaches the coming battle in his own way. Some smoke to calm their fears, some vomit onto the steel deck, and others worry about wetting their pants. But there is one belief that every man shares: no matter what happens when they hit the beach, surrendering to the enemy will not be an option.

Lewis Bausell has been through this before. Only twenty years old, the apprentice bookbinder from Washington, DC, has an easy smile and a wide boxer's nose. His hair is cropped close to his skull. Bausell had a semester left at McKinley Technical High School when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor in December 1941. He immediately dropped out of school and tried to enlist in the navy but was rejected. So instead, he enlisted in the Marine Corps. During his more than two years serving his country, Bausell has earned the respect of his peers, and although his rank is not yet official, just one month ago Bausell was selected for promotion to the rank of sergeant because of his heroic performance and leadership during invasions on Tulagi, Gavutu, Guadalcanal, and Cape Gloucester.

Now, as the amtrac churns forward through the flat surf toward Peleliu, Bausell buckles the chin strap of his steel helmet. The landing craft stalls momentarily on the coral reef one hundred yards offshore, then continues churning toward the landing zone. Bausell is tempted to peer up and over the side to glimpse the battlefield, but he keeps his head down. Japanese snipers are known to target the curious.

All at once, geysers of water erupt around the landing craft. Incoming Japanese 141-mm mortar rounds fill the air. Many find their mark, killing Bausell's fellow marines on other landing craft. The explosions and the roar of artillery are so loud that Bausell and his squadmates cannot hear one another without yelling. The smoke of battle has turned the blue morning sky black. On any other day, Peleliu is a tropical island paradise. Today it is a living hell.

"Hit the beach," yells a sergeant as the amtrac's steel treads reach the shore. Bausell vaults up and over the side, landing hard on the bone-white sand and coral. The staccato chatter of hidden Japanese machine guns forces Bausell to press his body flat against the earth. All around him, explosions bring flashes of light. The palm trees lining the beach are in flames. Crimson pools of American blood mingle with the yellow phosphorus of Japanese incendiary devices.

"All any man could do was sweat it out and pray for survival," one marine will later write of his first moments on Peleliu. "It would have been sure suicide to stand up during that firestorm."

Everything Bausell sees and hears gives the lie to what he and his fellow marines had been told about this tactically vital Japanese stronghold. In preparation for Operation Stalemate, the United States Navy bombarded Peleliu with ten days of aerial raids and two more days of naval shelling. It seemed impossible that anyone could have lived through such an intense barrage of napalm and artillery; "we have run out of targets," a top naval officer complained. American intelligence supported this notion, suggesting that the enemy response would be minimal. The Marine Corps officer commanding the invasion, Major General William Rupertus, predicted a quick and easy battle — "a hard fought 'quickie' that will last for four days, five days at most."

But as Corporal Lewis Bausell and his squad can now attest, Peleliu will not be taken easily. Its defenders have had months to prepare. Mortar launchers and artillery are concealed behind the 2,200-yard beachfront, targeted to strike the precise spots at which the Americans now race ashore. In addition, the Japanese have constructed antitank barriers, laid hundreds of mines, and lined the beach with every coil of barbed wire in the Caroline Islands. "Spider traps" — machine-gun nests made of coconut-tree logs — are camouflaged so well that they are almost invisible in the swampy landscape where jungle meets the sand.

Yet Japanese commander Colonel Kunio Nakagawa is a realist. He knows the Americans will eventually work their way ashore. The US force is huge. So the wily colonel is employing a strategy tried just once before in the war. Despite the horrific welcome the Americans are now receiving, it is not his goal to win this battle on the beaches. Just a fraction of his army now fights the marines, but thousands of other elite troops wait inland, in a network of five hundred hidden caves in the nearby Umurbrogol highlands.

These fukkaku defenses will allow Nakagawa and his men to counter the Americans, "bleeding them white" by coming out of hiding to attack when the marines least expect it.

The attacking Japanese soldiers' ability to swarm out of nowhere led top British general William Slim to refer to them as "the most formidable fighting insect in history." The men of Nakagawa's Fourteenth Imperial Division embody that sentiment. Almost all are veteran warriors, hardened by years of battle. They have been living five stories underground, subsisting on a simple diet of rice and fish and enduring the beatings and harsh discipline from their officers that are typical of the Japanese army. "You could be beaten for anything," one Japanese soldier later remembered. "Being too short or being too tall, even because somebody didn't like the way you drank coffee. This was done to make each man respond instantly to orders, and it produced results. If you want soldiers who fight hard, they must train hard."

These soldiers have been taught another crucial lesson: that the Japanese race is superior to all others, and that triumph over the inferior Americans is inevitable.

That is a lie.

But to soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army, it doesn't matter. Their strongest belief of all is in the samurai code of Bushido, which stipulates that surrender is a form of dishonor. "The man who would not disgrace himself must be strong," reads a line from the Japanese army's Senjinkun, a pocket-size code of behavior issued to all servicemen. "Do not survive in shame as a prisoner. Die, to ensure that you do not leave ignominy behind you."

Therein lies the basis for Colonel Nakagawa's trap.

There is no escape route for the Japanese, no evacuation plan. The forty-six-year-old Nakagawa, who was decorated nine times for his heroism during Japan's earlier war with China, has already informed his wife that he will never see her again.

Soon, very soon, he will lure the unsuspecting Americans into the Umurbrogol highlands and slaughter them.

But in turn, he and his men will also be slaughtered.

Surrender is not an option.

* * *

Corporal Lewis Bausell rises up off the sand and sprints in a low crouch. His goal is the protective shelter of a small coral ridge a hundred yards inland. All around him as he runs, shouts of "Get the hell off the beach!" mingle with desperate pleas of "Corpsman!" Bausell has never seen such destruction. Two hundred marines will die today; hundreds more will be wounded. Terrified corporals and privates now watch the bodies of their brother marines torn apart as fire from Japanese heavy artillery crashes down.

"One figure seemed to fly to pieces," a marine will recall of a particularly grisly death. "With terrible clarity I saw the head and one leg fly into the air."

"I saw a wounded Marine near me staggering," another American will remember. "His face was half bloody pulp and the mangled shreds of what was left of an arm hung down like a stick ... he fell behind me, in a red puddle on the white sand."

Every man here knows what the Japanese army does to prisoners of war. Rather than hold men captive, the Japanese murder them in the most heinous fashion. Veterans of previous battles with this enemy have seen the corpses of marines unlucky enough to be taken alive. Some had their bodies roped to a tree and used for live bayonet practice. Some had their heads, arms, and legs chopped off; scores of US Marines were emasculated with bayonets as they lay dying on the ground.

"It was kill or be killed," Marine Corps private Dan Lawler will later remember. "The Japs didn't take prisoners so we didn't take prisoners either."

Or, as Marine Corps colonel Lewis "Chesty" Puller ordered his men before the Peleliu invasion: "You will take no prisoners. You will kill every yellow son-of-a-bitch, and that's it."

* * *

It seems an eternity, but it is only an hour before Corporal Bausell and a few of his fellow marines manage to get off the sand. Bausell's smile has been replaced by a tight-lipped glare. His instincts sharpened by his many previous landings, Bausell searches the tree line for signs of hidden enemy machine-gun emplacements targeting the invasion force. Suddenly, a burst of light gets Corporal Bausell's attention. The Japanese machine guns fire tracer bullets to help them zero in on a target, but these illuminated rounds can also help the marines pinpoint the shooter's precise location. Bausell sees a stream of tracers emerging from a small cave with a commanding view of the beach. The entrance is concealed by scrub plants and thick brush.

Taking charge of the squad, he motions for his men to follow him toward the cave's location. Reaching the cave first, he fires into a small opening. Lieutenant Jack Kimble of Greenville, Mississippi, arrives with a two-man flamethrower team; a stream of fire is launched into the Japanese position in the hope of forcing the enemy to come out. Corporal Bausell, meanwhile, stands ready to shoot them as they emerge.

The first Japanese to run screaming from the cave is carrying a grenade. He pulls the pin before Bausell can fire his M1 carbine. Not only does the explosion kill the Japanese soldier but shrapnel slices into several nearby marines.

More flame is shot into the cave. Another Japanese soldier emerges.

This time, Bausell shoots him dead.

Yet another Japanese soldier runs out of the cave, choosing the sure death by rifle fire to being roasted alive. He too carries a grenade, hurling it at the Americans as Bausell raises his weapon.

The grenade is launched before Bausell shoots; it lands near him and several other marines. The blast may kill them all.

Without hesitation, Corporal Bausell throws his body onto the grenade. His torso rises off the ground as it explodes, smothering the blast. None of his fellow marines is hurt.

"Get that Jap," Bausell shouts. Somehow, he is still alive.

The flamethrower team shoots off a burst of flame, turning the Japanese soldier into a human torch.

Less than two hours after landing on Peleliu, Corporal Lewis Bausell is put on a stretcher and carried back down the beach. He is loaded aboard an amtrac, then ferried out to the hospital ship Bountiful, where he is immediately taken into surgery.

But doctors cannot stop the bleeding. The Japanese grenade has sent deadly shards of metal deep into Bausell's internal organs. On September 18, 1944, three days after the invasion of Peleliu, Corporal Lewis Bausell dies.

Unlike those of soldiers fighting on World War II's European front, his body will not be lowered into the ground and marked with a monument so that his family might someday visit. Instead, his corpse is wrapped in sailcloth, tethered to a spent artillery shell, and dropped at sea.

Corporal Lewis Bausell is the first United States Marine at the Battle of Peleliu whose death will see him awarded America's highest award for valor, the Medal of Honor, for actions above and beyond the call of duty in combat.

He is not the last.


Leyte, Visayas Islands Philippines October 20, 1944 1300 Hours

General Douglas MacArthur is grinning. "As Ripley says, believe it or not, we're here," he boasts to his chief of staff.

Seven hundred miles west of Peleliu, where marines are now mired in their fifth bloody week of combat, the sixty-four-year-old commander of American forces in the Pacific leans over the rail of the USS Nashville. He gazes into the distance at his beloved Philippines, which were invaded by more than a hundred thousand US Army troops under his command less than four hours ago. His counterpart in Europe, General Dwight Eisenhower, became famous for the D-Day invasion of France this past June. So MacArthur, well known for his ego, has chosen to call the date of this invasion "A-Day," for "Attack Day."

As on Peleliu, intelligence reports predicting minimal enemy resistance have proven very wrong. The Japanese are putting up a fierce fight for the Philippines. Even miles out to sea, MacArthur can hear the chatter of automatic-weapons fire coming from groves of palm trees and see the billowing plumes of black smoke from the jungle. Just overhead, American fighter-bombers buzz toward entrenched enemy positions, keeping a sharp eye out for Japanese Zero fighter planes.

Two years ago, after the fall of the Philippines to the Japanese, the most humiliating defeat of MacArthur's storied career, the general promised the world that he would one day come back in glory to retake the islands. Now, he is setting out to make good on that vow.

Douglas MacArthur, who likes to refer to himself in the third person as simply "MacArthur," is a shade over six feet tall, the son of a Medal of Honor–winning general through whom he has a lifelong connection to the Philippines. Arthur MacArthur Jr. fought in the American Civil War as a teenager and, after the Spanish-American War, served as military governor of the Philippines. Douglas graduated at the top of his class at West Point, and to this day is as narrow-waisted and fit as on his commissioning day in 1903.

MacArthur clambers down a ladder hanging over the Nashville's side and into a waiting landing craft. As he does every day, the general wears a freshly pressed khaki uniform that bears no insignia or ribbons. He fastidiously maintains the creases on his shirtsleeves and trousers by changing clothes frequently, and has just donned a fresh uniform for the landing. In case the landing goes horribly wrong and MacArthur is at risk of being taken prisoner, a loaded derringer that once belonged to his father rests in his hip pocket.

Sweat stains seep into the gold braid encircling MacArthur's weathered field marshal's cap; his dark brown eyes are shielded from the ocean's glare by wire-rimmed Ray-Ban sunglasses. Completing these trademark aspects of his appearance, all of which have made the general an iconic figure worldwide, is the unlit corncob pipe clenched firmly between his teeth.


Excerpted from Killing the Rising Sun by Bill O'Reilly, Martin Dugard. Copyright © 2016 Henry Holt. Excerpted by permission of Henry Holt and Company.
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.

Meet the Author

Bill O’Reilly is the anchor of The O’Reilly Factor, the highest-rated cable news show in the country. He is the author of the number-one bestsellers Killing Lincoln, Killing Kennedy, Killing Jesus, Killing Patton, and Killing Reagan.

Martin Dugard is the New York Times bestselling author of several books of history. He and his wife live in Southern California with their three sons.

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Untitled O'Reilly 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 61 reviews.
Anonymous 11 months ago
My father fought in the Pacific the last 2 years of WWII. I have read numerous books about the war in the Pacific but this really fills the end of the war with Japan.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great historical read, learned a lot :-)
Anonymous 8 months ago
An easy read that presents the truth about the Pacific war. The case is clearly made for the use of the bomb to end grinding savagery that intensified as the distance to the h islands shrank. Particularly interesting portrait of MacArthur complete with character flaws that ultimately led Truman to sack him during the Korean war.
Anonymous 7 months ago
Every American needs to read this to truly understand how much people did and sacrificed for our freedom.
Anonymous 7 months ago
This book kept my attention through out the whole time. Very interesting yet sad. I loved this book.
Anonymous 10 months ago
Fascinating history, enjoyed the whole way through. Well written and thoughtfully expressed. Have never read history for pleasure, however am now looking forward to the Killing series.
Anonymous 10 months ago
Nothing sugar coated here, horrofic details and accounts of an incredibly important and significant time in world history that still impacts our lives today.
Anonymous 4 months ago
history lesson so informative, unreal, thank you.
Linda71 6 months ago
Great and informative book. This and "Killing Patton" are the best of the Killing series, even tho all are outstanding (haven't read "Killing Jesus"). Can't wait for the next book from the authors.
Anonymous 6 months ago
This is a fantastic read.
Jackie98 10 months ago
EXTREMELY well written! Historically accurate and very moving at the same time! Thanks for not making this a watered down "politically correct" revision of History. Facts are facts and Bill O'Reilly has done a superb job - as he always does. We are sharing this with our granddaughters so that they can know the real facts in our WW11History!
Anonymous 11 months ago
This is a very readable history of the last days of World War II. The writing style is smooth and quick paced. I loved the small stories of the many heroes of the US Armed Forces. This helps the modern day reader to understand the very serious decisions that were made during such trying times. The pictures and copies of letters enhance the book as well as the very readable maps. This is a fascinating history book. It deserves an A+++++++
Cform1970 More than 1 year ago
Excellent Book! I finished this book in two days. Couldn't put it down. There was so much I didn't know about the decision to drop the atomic bomb. Mr O'Reilly explains it all in a very concise and entertaining way. I didn't feel like I was reading a "history book".
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Anonymous 7 days ago
Dat cloud looks like a dicc
Anonymous 4 months ago
Good pace and easy to read version of events that led to the end of WWII and Japanese surrender. Fair in providing views on why Roosevelt approved the Manhattan Project to build and test the atomic bombs and why Truman chose to use them, as well as why Eisenhower and Macarthur opposed.
Timo t Rafferty 5 months ago
As with all his books , they offer a new perspective on historical events.
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Anonymous 11 months ago
This is a fantastic book! For all of the "Monday Morning Quarterbacks" that lament over the decision to use the bomb, this book certainly fleshes out the reasons behind the decision. O'Reilly does a great and thorough job of filling in the blanks of history. Truly millions of lives were saved on an already long and deadly time in history. For anyone interested in WWII history, I heartily recommend this book!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I have always had great interest in history and have read many books on the topics of WWI and WW2. This book was excellent. Could not put it down until finished. A highly recommended read.
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