"Uncommon courage was a common virtue": this was said of Marines on another island, Iwo Jima. Texas journalist Sloan's excellent research, interviewing and journalistic prose will have readers of this moving book saying it of Wake Island, too: this popular military history is the best account yet of the Battle for Wake Island in December 1941. An almost barren coral atoll in the Central Pacific, Wake was a link in American communications with the Far East and squarely in the middle of Japanese-held islands. So both sides targeted it in the coming war, and soon after Pearl Harbor the Japanese began steady air attacks on the atoll's garrison. That garrison included a minuscule Marine air arm, flying half-wrecked F4F Wildcats, a thin battalion of Marine infantry and artillery, and a large number of civilian construction workers overtaken by the war while building a base. Battered from the air, this motley group actually drove off the first Japanese attempt at a landing, and inflicted heavy casualties on a second and much stronger effort before surrendering. The Wake Islanders can truly be called "heroic," even if Marine Major Devereaux and Navy Commander Cunningham did not coordinate as well as they could have. The Japanese emerge with little credit for either their witless tactics or their harsh treatment of the prisoners, although a Dr. Ozeki saved the lives of several wounded Americans. Wake Island has nearly faded from memory; the survivors interviewed are fading from life; this book is direly needed on any WW II shelf. (Oct.) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
A blood-and-guts tale from the early days of WWII. Not many Americans of the day knew much about Wake Island, a dismal atoll closer to Tokyo than Honolulu. But, writes journalist Sloan, it had been on the Japanese war planners’ map ever since the US Navy authorized the use of its outpost as a refueling station for Pan American Airways’ "China Clipper" service, which the Japanese saw as proof that "Wake was quietly being groomed for future military use." As indeed it was, Sloan continues: Wake lay close to major Japanese bases, and it was easier to defend than Guam or Midway, providing one link in "a defensive chain envisioned by Washington as a protective westward shield for Hawaii." The Japanese attacked Wake only a few hours after bombing Pearl Harbor, and for the next two weeks Japanese and Americans fought out what some contemporary writers characterized as a latter-day Alamo. Sloan begins all this on a clunky notehe promises, with much self-satisfaction, to place the reader "down in the sweat, smoke, and grime of foxholes and gun pits, where bullets whine, bombs explode, coral splinters fly, blood spurts, rats bite, men scream, and death is never more than inches away"but his narrative overall is a competent if by-the-numbers account of that siege. He adds value to it by drawing on the memories of a rapidly dwindling number of American (and a couple of Japanese) veterans, and by pointing to some historical accidents that the fight exposed: one, that the Japanese made several costly blunders, including the failure to provide adequate air cover for its task force, and two, that the American commanders in Hawaii missed an opportunity to reinforce Wake and attack the oncomingJapanese fleet. As it was, the Japanese eventually forced Wake’s defenders to give up, but at a lopsided cost: whereas 4,500 Japanese were killed attacking and holding the atoll, Sloan writes, only 366 Americans "died either of combat injuries or the ill effects of captivity." It’s no Guadalcanal Diary or From Here to Eternity, but likely to interest WWII buffs all the same. Agent: Jim Donovan
A thoroughly researched, cleanly written blend of history, narrative, and professional insight that cannot help but move you.”—James Webb, author of Fields of Fire and The Emperor’s General
“Given Up for Dead is the riveting account of a small garrison of Marines, sailors, and civilian workers who handed the Japanese their first defear of World War II in the Pacific. It is poignant, solidly researched, and told with brilliance and sensitivity. My hope is that this book will serve as a lasting tribute to a remarkable and heroic group of men.”—General P. X. Kelley, USMC (Ret.), 28th Commandant of the Marine Corps
"Drawing on the memories of a rapidly dwindling number of American (and a couple of Japanese) veterans ... [Given Up For Dead is] a blood and guts tale from the early days of WWII."—Kirkus Reviews
“Highly readable...exhaustively reported and researched, moves at a pace that screams.”—Marine Corps Times
"Given Up for Dead is a welcome find…. It is the 15 days of siege forming the core of the book that most readers are quite likely to remember most vividly…. By producing a nuanced account instead of a jingoistic, gung-ho glorification of a distant battle in a long-ago war, Sloan has added a valuable book to World War II literature."—Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
"Given Up for Dead is especially effective in telling the story of the individuals caught up in the battle…. A dramatic recounting of those desperate days of December 1941 when a small island and the courage of its few defenders momentarily held the attention of a proud and grateful country. "—Dallas Morning News