The Ghost Mountain Boys: Their Epic March and the Terrifying Battle for New Guinea - The Forgotten War of the South Pacific

The Ghost Mountain Boys: Their Epic March and the Terrifying Battle for New Guinea - The Forgotten War of the South Pacific

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The Ghost Mountain Boys: Their Epic March and the Terrifying Battle for New Guinea - The Forgotten War of the South Pacific by James Campbell, Stephen Hoye

Lying due north of Australia, New Guinea is among the world's largest islands. In 1942, when World War II exploded onto its shores, it was an inhospitable, cursorily mapped, disease-ridden land of dense jungle, towering mountain peaks, deep valleys, and fetid swamps. Coveted by the Japanese for its strategic position, New Guinea became the site of one of the South Pacific's most savage campaigns. Despite their lack of jungle training, the 32nd Division's Ghost Mountain Boys were assigned the most grueling mission of the entire Pacific campaign: to march 130 miles over the rugged Owen Stanley Mountains and to protect the right flank of the Australian army as they fought to push the Japanese back to the village of Buna on New Guinea's north coast.

Comprised of National Guardsmen from Michigan and Wisconsin, reserve officers, and draftees from across the country, the 32nd Division lacked more than training—they were without even the basics necessary for survival. The men were not issued the specialized clothing that later became standard issue for soldiers fighting in the South Pacific; they fought in hastily dyed combat fatigues that bled in the intense humidity and left them with festering sores. They waded through brush and vines without the aid of machetes. They did not have insect repellent. Without waterproof containers, their matches were useless, and the quinine and vitamin pills they carried, as well as salt and chlorination tablets, crumbled in their pockets. Exhausted and pushed to the brink of human endurance, the Ghost Mountain Boys fell victim to malnutrition and disease. Forty-two days after they set out, they arrived two miles south of Buna, nearly shattered by the experience.

Arrival in Buna provided no respite. The 32nd Division was ordered to launch an immediate assault on the Japanese position. After two months of furious—sometimes hand-to-hand—combat, the decimated division finally achieved victory. The ferocity of the struggle for Buna was summed up in Time magazine on December 28, 1942, three weeks before the Japanese army was defeated: "Nowhere in the world today are American soldiers engaged in fighting so desperate, so merciless, so bitter, or so bloody."

Reminiscent of classics like Band of Brothers and The Things They Carried, this harrowing portrait of a largely overlooked campaign is part war diary, part extreme adventure tale, and—through letters, journals, and interviews—part biography of a group of men who fought to survive in an environment every bit as fierce as the enemy they faced.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781400105762
Publisher: Tantor Media, Inc.
Publication date: 12/01/2007
Edition description: Unabridged, 10 CDs, 12 hours
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 5.30(h) x 1.10(d)

About the Author

James Campbell is the author of The Final Frontiersman and The Ghost Mountain Boys. He has written for Outside magazine, National Geographic Adventure, Men's Journal, Audubon, and many other publications.

Actor Stephen Hoye is a graduate of London's Guildhall and a veteran of London's West End. An award-winning audiobook narrator, he has won thirteen AudioFile Earphones Awards and two prestigious APA Audie Awards.

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Ghost Mountain Boys: Their Epic March and the Terrifying Battle for New Guinea --The Forgotten War of the South Pacific 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 27 reviews.
Ethan_Coyle More than 1 year ago
When most people are asked about World War II, the European theater is the popular area of conversation. Usually when the Pacific theater comes up in conversation, it is in more broad strokes regarding the island-hopping campaign or a handful of strategic battles further popularized by Hollywood. However, this story not only envisions a lost angle on the story of the Pacific but delivers a painstaking and honest account of the men who went into hellstorm that was New Guinea. To paraphrase one veteran, he would prefer to live in hell and rent out New Guinea. James Campbell's book is a must have for anyone wanting to know about another angle to the war that almost everyone has either forgotten about or was never aware. James Campbell delivers a compelling account of the realities of war. Campbell does not sugarcoat or douse down the experience in his retelling of those brave soldiers who, unprepared and underequipped, endured through conditions that would shatter most people's psyche. I could further describe how well written the book was and how encompassing and engrossing it was to me. Instead, let me say that after I finished reading this book, I wish I could meet just one of them and thank them face to face, veteran to veteran.
Joanne Allard More than 1 year ago
...though this is clearly an important story and a key historical sequence, I am very disappointed with the quality of the writing. The author jumps around and names people and places without providing context. For example, one of the book's foremost themes was to be the horrific struggles of the soldiers with disease. After 65 pages of backstory, the author finally describes the first battle and quotes an observer as saying that the men were ravaged by disease, but we, the readers, haven't been told yet about any sign or incidence of disease! It was just put in out of the blue (and not followed up on). Also, i dont know if it's the publisher or Barnes and Noble, but the pages in the sample were numbered very differently than those in the actual e-book - they provided only half of the number of pages that the book gave (so you ended up with a far shorter sample than you thought you were getting). This seems unfair to me AND it was fairly tedious to navigate to the appropriate "keep reading" point since i had no way of knowing that 50 something pages of sample was really 20 or 30 something pages in the book and i didn't want to ruin any upcoming parts of the story by reading them just to locate my place in the book. Bottom line - most WWII stories are worth reading because the subject matter is so important, but this author should have worked with a writing coach to develop an outline and should have taken the story through a peer editing process before releasing what reads like field notes, both as a gesture of respect for the soldiers and their families and for his readers.
Midwestbob More than 1 year ago
This book is about a group of army men who went through experiences as bad as those gone through by marines on islands like Iwo Jima. It is a story one rarely hears about. The fact the book follows several individuals from why they signed up to what hapened to them in battle makes their story so real. They are common men leading their civil lives, joining the army and being thrown into one of the most hellish environments on Earth to fight a hellish enemy. The book also pulls no punches in its comments regarding army leadership such as that provided by MacArthur. Recommended highly.
MRansom More than 1 year ago
this book was very detailed on the orderal of the u.s. army's 34th infantry division in the battle for new guinea this was a primary goal of the u.s. forces in the battle in the pacific. fighting not just the japanese, but also the weather-the monsoon rains and the horrific heat- plus the insects and leechs, these soldiers overcame everything to cross the owen stanley mountains and attack the japanese from their rear, where the japanese did not figure they would come from. suffering from malaria, dysentery, jungle rot and other diseases, these troops were able to carry out their assigned tasks and help to capture this vital island. they were helped by many of the civilian population and helped to get them food and medical supplies to help the populus out. many of the units of the 34th division were decimated by disease and the indivual battles that they fought, however, the accomplished their mission and brought pride to their unit
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I wanted to read this book because my father was one of the Ghost Mountain Boys. I found it very difficult to read because he went through this ordeal. I remember hearing what a great general Douglas MacArthur was - I don't feel that way anymore. I highly recommend this book so we don't put our soldiers through this again. ( History does repeat itself)
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Peter Rudlowski More than 1 year ago
The story is a good read, although one can't enlarge the maps on the nook color and geography plays a big part of story, therefore a rating of three.
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Lu2003 More than 1 year ago
my husband was one of the army men [ in company c 126 Th Inf.] who was on the trail above the ghost mountain boys who met later at the end of the trail i have read the book before, it is worth the reading
Chernomorets More than 1 year ago
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CMich More than 1 year ago
If you are a vetran of WWII or the child of a vetran, then this is must reading for understanding all sides. The errors and tragedy needs to be known and isn't. I listened to the tapes and then bought the book. I provided them to my father-in-law who was a replacement for the 32nd and will now be sure my sons read it so they understand. Hopefully the author will follow with the rest of the New Guinea campaign.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
jeffory-morshead More than 1 year ago
FROM PEARL HARBOR TO TOKYO BAY DECEMBER 7, 1941: Japanese attack Pearl Harbor. The strike force, called First Air Fleet, was formed eight months earlier. The operation's planner, Admiral Yamamoto believed secrecy was the key, and the Japanese pilots could succeed, as they did against Russia by besieging its fleet at Port Arthur in 1904. Yamamoto has been described as swift and sarcastic in argument, bold and ingenious in battle. In concert with the Pearl Harbor strike, the Japanese bomb Guam, Wake, and Midway. 353 aircraft attack warships and aircraft. Prior to the attack, General George C. Marshall receives a decrypted message from Tokyo instructing the Japanese Ambassador to break off diplomatic relations Aat 1:00 p.m. on the seventh, your time. Marshall sends message to army commands in the Philippines, Hawaii, Panama, and San Francisco. All are received except the one to Hawaii, where atmospheric conditions and heavy static temporarily block the wireless channel to Honolulu. A Western Union telegram is sent, and a messenger on a motorcycle delivers it to General Walter T. Short's headquarters at Fort Shafter, but he receives it sixteen hours after the attack. The Japanese pilots fly so low people below can see them hunched, faceless under their helmets and oxygen masks. Some shake their fists in triumph. The Arizona sinks; men are wedged together so tightly they can't reach their guns as they watch their friends burn to death. US fleet and aircraft are destroyed. Dazed survivors search for family members while oily fire on the water illuminates the bodies floating on the surface like kelp. DECEMBER 8, 1941: US declares war on Japan with a single dissenting vote in Congress, cast by Jeanette Rankin, who also voted against World War 1. FDR asks Congress to declare war, and Douglas MacArthur announces he expects a Japanese attack on the Philippines around January 1, 1942. Churchill says, "So we have won after all . . .the Japanese will be ground to powder. Emperor Hirohito declares, We . . enjoin upon you, our loyal and brave subjects: We hereby declare war on the United States and the British Empire. DECEMBER 9, 1941: Japanese bomb the Philippines, destroying aircraft on Clark Field. MacArthur's Philippine fiasco is ignored, prompting General Claire Chennault to later write, "If I had been caught with my planes on the ground, I could never have looked my fellow officers squarely in the eye." Claire Booth Luce later wrote, When MacArthur told Brereton to" stand by and wait," Brereton said he was closer to weeping from sheer rage than he had ever been in his life. MacArthur requests more troops to fend off an invasion, but only 15% of available forces are assigned to the Pacific at this time. When Roosevelt hears that MacArthur ignored his air commander who said to disperse the planes or use them to counterattack, he says in despair, "On the ground! On the ground! The planes were on the ground!" DECEMBER 10, 1941: Japanese occupy Tarawa and mount air attacks on Luzon, the Philippines. DECEMBER 12, 1941: Japanese troops invade Luzon. DECEMBER 15, 1941: Admiral Chester Nimitz appointed Pacific navy chief. He is the man who established the navy ROTC at the University of California. The boys practiced maneuvers on a cow-studded hill; Nimitz called them Battles of Cow Flop Hill. MacArthur will head the Southwestern Pacific operations. Geography is our only problem, MacArthur says; most Americ
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Guest More than 1 year ago
I enjoyed this book on the 32nd's long battle for New Guinea aginst the Japanese in WWII. The 32nd Division was made up of national guardsmen who were ill-equiped and had little training. They were expecting to fight in Europe but were moved to Austraila in order to allow for an Austrailian division to stay in Europe. General McArthur who was recently pushed out of the Phillipines chose the 32nd to push the Japanese out of New Guinea in order to protect the Australian mainland from attack. The 32nd had no experiance or training in jungle fighting and were sent into the thick jungles of New Guinea. The men of the 32nd had to deal with extreame heat and many came down with disease but they continued to push on. The men traveled over vast mountain ranges as they pursued the Japanese. Most of the men lost close to a third of their weight in the trek through the jungle. When they finally reached the Japanese bunkers they were exhausted and in no condition to fight. The men however continued to fight although they were losing many men in the fighting. The division was almost cut in half by the Japanese but they continued to fight. McArthur pressed the men for victory but had no idea what their condition was or the strength of the Japanese positions, because he never visited the front. I really enjoyed this book because my football coach always asks how will our team respond to adversity. These men went through harsh conditions on the jungle trek and suffered heavy casualties against the japanese, but they responded and fought on until they recieved victory. I really enjoyed this book and would highly recommend it to anyone who enjoys reading about WWII.
Guest More than 1 year ago
My father served with the 32nd Division and I have never been prouder since reading ¿The Ghost Mountain Boys¿. The U. S. Army¿s role in the South Pacific has certainly been forgotten taking second seat to the Marines. The press didn¿t cover the Army because the day-to-day living was simply too tough and unbearable. James Campbell has told their story as no one else has. Dad never talked much about the details of his combat experience and now I know why. Mr. Campbell has told his story with reverence and compassion that my dad would be proud of. I had no idea. The book is marvelously written, personalizing the most intimate detail and leaving you with an unbelievable want to read more. The 32nd Division is credited with over 650 days in combat, more than any other unit in the Second World War. The battle for Buna is chapter one. Mr. Campbell please keep writing.