Utmost Savagery: The Three Days of Tarawa

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Overview


Marine combat veteran and award-winning military historian Joseph Alexander takes a fresh look at one of the bloodiest battles of the Pacific War. His gripping narrative, first published in 1995, has won him many prizes, with critics lauding his use of Japanese documents and his interpretation of the significance of what happened. The first trial by fire of America's fledgling amphibious assault doctrine, the violent three-day attack on Tarawa, a seemingly invincible Japanese island fortress of barely three hundred acres, left six thousand men dead. This book offers an authoritative account of the tactics, innovations, leadership, and weapons employed by both antagonists. Alexander convincingly argues that without the vital lessons of Tarawa the larger amphibious victories to come at Saipan, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa might not have been possible.
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Alexander, a retired Marine officer and established scholar, uses a broad spectrum of fresh Japanese and American sources to present a gripping narrative of one of the bloodiest battles of WWII in the Pacific theater. At Tarawa in the Kiribati (formerly Gilbert) islands, ``uncommon valor was a common virtue'' on both sides. But this account is more than battle history. Alexander interprets Tarawa as a military test bed, a validation of the concept of amphibious assault against defended positions. The Marines and the Navy made mistakes but learned from them. Without the experience gained at Tarawa, America's path across the central Pacific would have been longer and bloodier, according to the author. Tarawa was a psychological landmark as well. The savage, close-quarters fighting and high casualties helped solidify the grim determination in the U.S. to prevail over the Japanese. Illustrations. Military Book Club main selection. (Sept.)
Booknews
The Battle of Tarawa in November 1943 left 6,000 dead in an area the size of the Pentagon and its parking lots. Drawing on primary sources, new translations of Japanese documents, and interviews with survivors, the author describes the bloody conquest by the newly created Central Pacific Force, the first trial-by-fire of America's fledgling amphibious assault doctrine. Includes b&w photos and drawings. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781591140030
  • Publisher: Naval Institute Press
  • Publication date: 9/1/2008
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Pages: 328
  • Product dimensions: 5.90 (w) x 8.90 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author


Col. Joseph H. Alexander, USMC (Ret.) served in the Corps for 29 years as an assault amphibian officer. He has written six books, including Utmost Savagery and Edson's Raiders. He was the Naval Institute Author of the Year in 1996 and Naval History Author of the Year in 2010. He was the principal historian and writer on the exhibit design team throughout the construction of the National Museum of the Marine Corps. He resides in Asheville, North Carolina.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations

Prologue: "Issue in Doubt!" 3

Ch. 1 The Central Pacific Takes Center Stage 11

Ch. 2 The Japanese in the Gilberts 21

Ch. 3 Amphibious Warriors 42

Ch. 4 Movement to Contact 67

Ch. 5 Into the Gates of Hell 97

Ch. 6 Gaining Toeholds on D-Day 122

Ch. 7 Dark-Eyed Night 147

Ch. 8 "We Are Winning!" 159

Ch. 9 Fight to the Finish 180

Ch. 10 The Gilberts Aflame 208

Ch. 11 Pyrrhic Victory 227

Epilogue: Tarawa's Enduring Legacy 241

Notes on Sources 251

Notes 253

Bibliography 285

Index 293

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