Crucible of Hell: The Heroism and Tragedy of Okinawa, 1945

Crucible of Hell: The Heroism and Tragedy of Okinawa, 1945

by Saul David


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From the award-winning historian, Saul David, the riveting narrative of the heroic US troops, bonded by the brotherhood and sacrifice of war, who overcame enormous casualties to pull off the toughest invasion of WWII's Pacific Theater — and the Japanese forces who fought with tragic desperation to stop them.

With Allied forces sweeping across Europe and into Germany in the spring of 1945, one enormous challenge threatened to derail America's audacious drive to win the world back from the Nazis: Japan, the empire that had extended its reach southward across the Pacific and was renowned for the fanaticism and brutality of its fighters, who refused to surrender, even when faced with insurmountable odds. Taking down Japan would require an unrelenting attack to break its national spirit, and launching such an attack on the island empire meant building an operations base just off its shores on the island of Okinawa.

The amphibious operation to capture Okinawa was the largest of the Pacific War and the greatest air-land-sea battle in history, mobilizing 183,000 troops from Seattle, Leyte in the Philippines, and ports around the world. The campaign lasted for 83 blood-soaked days, as the fighting plumbed depths of savagery. One veteran, struggling to make sense of what he had witnessed, referred to the fighting as the "crucible of Hell." Okinawan civilians died in the tens of thousands: some were mistaken for soldiers by American troops; but as the US Marines spearheading the invasion drove further onto the island and Japanese defeat seemed inevitable, many more civilians took their own lives, some even murdering their own families. In just under three months, the world had changed irrevocably: President Franklin D. Roosevelt died; the war in Europe ended; America's appetite for an invasion of Japan had waned, spurring President Truman to use other means — ultimately atomic bombs — to end the war; and more than 250,000 servicemen and civilians on or near the island of Okinawa had lost their lives.

Drawing on archival research in the US, Japan, and the UK, and the original accounts of those who survived, Crucible of Hell tells the vivid, heart-rending story of the battle that changed not just the course of WWII, but the course of war, forever.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316534680
Publisher: Hachette Books
Publication date: 05/04/2021
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 444,606
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Saul David is a military historian and broadcaster. He is the author of The Indian Mutiny, which was shortlisted for the Duke of Westminster's Medal for Military Literature, Military Blunders, Zulu: the Heroism and Tragedy of the Zulu War of 1879 (a Waterstone's Military History Book of the Year),Victoria's Wars, and Operation Thunderbolt: Flight 139 and the Raid on Entebbe Airport, the Most Audacious Hostage Rescue Mission in History.. He lives outside of Bath, England, where he is a professor of military history at the University of Buckingham.

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations ix

Maps xiii

Prologue: Love Day 1

1 "Where's Douglas?" 13

2 Operation Iceberg 18

3 "Everybody go home!" 28

4 The Divine Wind 37

5 "More concerned with furlough than fighting" 45

6 "I'm going simply because I've got to-and I hate it" 52

7 "I was crying as I did it and she was crying too" 61

8|"Tomorrow is our big day" 69

9 "It was quite a show" 78

10 "There's always some poor bastard who doesn't get word" 84

11 "The smell of burnt flesh hung about for days" 91

12 "War is indeed hell" 98

13 "I could see him floating by, face upward" 104

14 "Gone? She's gone?" 111

15 "They just knocked the heck out of us" 119

16 "I want to marry Shigeko" 130

17 "Harry, the president is dead" 139

18 "His eyes were rolling in panic" 145

19 "Three bullets had ripped into his temple" 154

20 "Progress not quite satisfactory" 162

21 "All Kaitens prepare for launch!" 169

22 "The most terrible weapon" 176

23 "Corpsman!" 181

24 Hacksaw Ridge 191

25 "We will fight to the last man" 199

26 "Doc, this one is worth saving" 208

27 "The happy dream is over" 217

28 Sugar Loaf Hill 224

29 "Hell's own cesspool" 237

30 "I still hear those cries today" 249

31 "The entire enemy line appears to be crumbling" 258

32 "It is terrifying to think about" 266

33 "There is NO tactical thinking or push" 270

34 "I lost damn near all of them" 276

35 "You re just going to have to hang on" 284

36 "We were so gullible, so innocent" 291

37 "We are down to the final kill" 298

38 "I haven't come up to the front to hide" 306

39 "Every man will … fight to the end" 312

40 "Suppose it doesn't go off?" 318

41 "What a splendid last moment!" 324

42 "All he talked about was you" 334

43 "The most terrible thing ever discovered" 342

44 "My God, what have we done?" 349

45 "We were going to live!" 358

Epilogue: "Those dark corners are still there" 365

Acknowledgments 373

Notes 375

Bibliography 397

Index 403

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