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War at the End of the World: Douglas MacArthur and the Forgotten Fight For New Guinea, 1942-1945

War at the End of the World: Douglas MacArthur and the Forgotten Fight For New Guinea, 1942-1945

by James P. Duffy


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A harrowing account of an epic, yet nearly forgotten, battle of World War II—General Douglas MacArthur's four-year assault on the Pacific War's most hostile battleground: the mountainous, jungle-cloaked island of New Guinea.

“A meaty, engrossing narrative history… This will likely stand as the definitive account of the New Guinea campaign.”—The Christian Science Monitor 

One American soldier called it “a green hell on earth.” Monsoon-soaked wilderness, debilitating heat, impassable mountains, torrential rivers, and disease-infested swamps—New Guinea was a battleground far more deadly than the most fanatical of enemy troops. Japanese forces numbering some 600,000 men began landing in January 1942, determined to seize the island as a cornerstone of the Empire’s strategy to knock Australia out of the war. Allied Commander-in-Chief General Douglas MacArthur committed 340,000 Americans, as well as tens of thousands of Australian, Dutch, and New Guinea troops, to retake New Guinea at all costs.

What followed was a four-year campaign that involved some of the most horrific warfare in history. At first emboldened by easy victories throughout the Pacific, the Japanese soon encountered in New Guinea a roadblock akin to the Germans’ disastrous attempt to take Moscow, a catastrophic setback to their war machine. For the Americans, victory in New Guinea was the first essential step in the long march towards the Japanese home islands and the ultimate destruction of Hirohito’s empire. Winning the war in New Guinea was of critical importance to MacArthur. His avowed “I shall return” to the Philippines could only be accomplished after taking the island.

In this gripping narrative, historian James P. Duffy chronicles the most ruthless combat of the Pacific War, a fight complicated by rampant tropical disease, violent rainstorms, and unforgiving terrain that punished both Axis and Allied forces alike. Drawing on primary sources, War at the End of the World fills in a crucial gap in the history of World War II while offering readers a narrative of the first rank.

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780451418302
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 01/05/2016
Pages: 448
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.10(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

James P. Duffy is the author of over a dozen previous books, most on military history. His World War II titles include The Sinking of the Laconia and the U-Boat War, Target America, and Hitler's Secret Pirate Fleet. He has also written on the American Civil War and the rulers of Imperial Russia. He resides with his family in New Jersey.

Table of Contents

Introduction 1

Prologue 3

Part 1 1942

Chapter 1 "This Is War, Not a Sunday School Picnic" 9

Chapter 2 "Every Man for Himself" 30

Chapter 3 First Landings in New Guinea 43

Chapter 4 A General in Search of an Army 54

Chapter 5 To Port Moresby by Sea 84

Chapter 6 Second Landings in New Guinea 111

Chapter 7 Death Along the Kokoda Track 127

Chapter 8 First Defeat at Milne Bay 153

Chapter 9 "Take Buna, or Not Come Back Alive" 167

Part 2 1943

Chapter 10 Sailing the Bismarck Sea 185

Chapter 11 Assault on Salamaua 206

Chapter 12 Pincers Around Lae 227

Chapter 13 War on the Huon Peninsula 243

Chapter 14 Invasion Across the Straits 261

Part 3 1944

Chapter 15 The General and the Admiralties 281

Chapter 16 Reckless and Persecution 295

Chapter 17 Next Stop: Wakde 311

Chapter 18 Bloody Biak 328

Chapter 19 The General, the President, and the Admiral 344

Chapter 20 Breakout from Wewak 353

Chapter 21 Island-Hopping to Victory 361

Epilogue 381

Acknowledgments 385

Bibliography 387

Source Notes 401

Index 425

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