The Mosquito Bowl: A Game of Life and Death in World War II

The Mosquito Bowl: A Game of Life and Death in World War II

by Buzz Bissinger
The Mosquito Bowl: A Game of Life and Death in World War II

The Mosquito Bowl: A Game of Life and Death in World War II

by Buzz Bissinger


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Notes From Your Bookseller

Sixty-five young Marines in WWII’s Pacific Theater, many of them top-level college and professional football players, feeling the tension and tedium in the waiting time before the Battle of Okinawa, play a brutal to-the-finish football game dubbed the “Mosquito Bowl.” Who they were, where they came from, those who survived the conflict and those who did not is an epic, poignant, unique tale of football, war, and the bravado of youth.

Instant New York Times Bestseller · Winner of the General Wallace M. Greene Jr. Award from the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation

“Buzz Bissinger’s Friday Night Lights is an American classic. With The Mosquito Bowl, he is back with a true story even more colorful and profound. This book too is destined to become a classic. I devoured it.” — John Grisham

An extraordinary, untold story of the Second World War in the vein of Unbroken and The Boys in the Boat, from the author of Friday Night Lights and Three Nights in August.

When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, college football was at the height of its popularity.  As the nation geared up for total war, one branch of the service dominated the aspirations of college football stars: the United States Marine Corps. Which is why, on Christmas Eve of 1944, when the 4th and 29th Marine regiments found themselves in the middle of the Pacific Ocean training for what would be the bloodiest battle of the war – the invasion of Okinawa—their ranks included one of the greatest pools of football talent ever assembled: Former All Americans, captains from Wisconsin and Brown and Notre Dame, and nearly twenty men who were either drafted or would ultimately play in the NFL.   

When the trash-talking between the 4th and 29th over who had the better football team reached a fever pitch, it was decided: The two regiments would play each other in a football game as close to the real thing as you could get in the dirt and coral of Guadalcanal.  The bruising and bloody game that followed became known as “The Mosquito Bowl.” 

Within a matter of months, 15 of the 65 players in “The Mosquito Bowl” would be killed at Okinawa, by far the largest number of American athletes ever to die in a single battle. The Mosquito Bowl is the story of these brave and beautiful young men, those who survived and those who did not.  It is the story of the families and the landscape that shaped them. It is a story of a far more innocent time in both college athletics and the life of the country, and of the loss of that innocence.  

Writing with the style and rigor that won him a Pulitzer Prize and have made several of his books modern classics, Buzz Bissinger takes us from the playing fields of America’s campuses where boys played at being Marines, to the final time they were allowed to still be boys on that field of dirt and coral, to the darkest and deadliest days that followed at Okinawa. 

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780062879929
Publisher: HarperCollins
Publication date: 09/13/2022
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 38,388
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 8.80(h) x 1.80(d)

About the Author

About The Author
Buzz Bissinger was born in 1954. He is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, whose books include the New York Times bestsellers 3 Nights in August and Friday Night Lights. He has served as a contributing editor for Vanity Fair and as a sports columnist for the Daily Beast, and has written for the New York Times, the Washington Post, the New Republic, Time, and many other publications. He lives in both Southwestern Washington State and Philadelphia. He is married to Lisa Smith and has three children.

Date of Birth:

November 1, 1954

Place of Birth:

New York, New York


B.A., University of Pennsylvania, 1976; Nieman Fellow, Harvard University, 1985-1986

Table of Contents

Map vi-vii

Author's Note xi

Preface xiii

Prologue 1

Part 1

1 McLaughry 19

2 Everybody's Watching 27

3 Schreiner 39

4 Butkovich 52

5 Land of the Free 65

6 The Army Way 80

7 The Letter 99

8 Murphy 104

9 Odette 118

10 Football Is War 123

11 Separate and Unequal 142

12 Remember the McKean 159

13 Sunday Sheet 168

14 Bauman 175

15 Forget Me Not 181

16 Committed to the Deep 189

Part 2

17 The Patrol 229

18 Pen Pal 261

19 Not a Damn Thing 272

20 Temptation 280

21 Millimeter 293

22 March of the Crabs 304

23 The Mosquito Bowl 315

Part 3

24 Bound for Hell 333

25 Buckner 340

26 April Fool 359

27 Abandon Ship 383

28 The Tortoise 399

29 The Little Girl 405

30 Return to Sender 417

31 A Thousand Ants 421

32 At All Costs 442

33 Crazy for Revenge 453

34 Carry On 458

35 Last Stand 471

36 Regret to Inform 475

37 Why? 487

38 Three Stars 494

39 Counting the Days 501

40 Cessation of Hostilities 505

41 Silence 510

Epilogue 513

Notes on Sources 531

Bibliography 663

Acknowledgments 751

About the Author 759

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