"Of all the books about the ground war in the Pacific, "With the Old Breed" is the closest to a masterpiece." - "The New York Review of Books". "One of the most arresting documents in war literature." - John Keegan, in "The Second World War". "One of the finest memoirs to emerge from any war". - Paul Fussell, in "Wartime". "The best World War II memoir of an enlisted man". - "Navy Times". In his own book, "Wartime", Paul Fussell called "With the Old Breed" one of the finest memoirs to emerge from any war." John Keegan referred to it in his "The Second World War" as "one of the most arresting documents in war literature." And Studs Terkel was so fascinated with the story he interviewed its author for his book, "The Good War". What has made E.B. Sledge's memoir of his experience fighting in the South Pacific during World War II so devastatingly powerful is its sheer honest simplicity and compassion. "With the Old Breed" presents a stirring, personal account of the vitality and bravery of the Marines in the battles at Peleliu and Okinawa.
Born in Mobile, Alabama in 1923 and raised on riding, hunting, fishing, and a respect for history and legendary heroes such as George Washington and Daniel Boone, Eugene Bondurant Sledge (later called "Sledgehammer" by his Marine Corps buddies) joined the Marines the year after the bombing of Pearl Harbor and from 1943 to 1946 endured the events recorded in this book. In those years, he passed, often painfully, from innocence to experience. Sledge enlisted out of patriotism, idealism, and youthful courage, but once he landed on the beach at Peleliu, it was purely a struggle for survival. Based on the notes he kept on slips of paper tucked secretly away in his New Testament, he simply and directly recalls those long months, mincing no words and sparing no pain. The reality of battle meant unbearable heat, deafening gunfire, unimaginable brutality and cruelty, the stench of death, and, above all, constant fear. Sledge still has nightmares about "the bloody, muddy month of May on Okinawa." But, as he also tellingly reveals, the bonds of friendship formed then will never be severed.
Sledge's honesty and compassion for the other marines, even complete strangers, sets him apart as a memoirist of war. Read as sobering history or as high adventure, "With the Old Breed" is a moving chronicle of action and courage. About the Author: E. B. "Sledgehammer" Sledge was born and grew up in Mobile. His father, a physician, taught him to hunt and to accurately observe and describe his surroundings. After graduating from high school, he spent a year at Marion Military Institute and a brief period at the Georgia Institute of Technology in an officers' training program. Sledge left the program in late 1943 to enlist in the US Marine Corps. After basic training, he was sent to the Pacific Theater. He fought at Peleliu and Okinawa where some of the fiercest battles of WWII took place. Despite heavy casualties in his unit, he survived without being physically wounded. It took him years, however, to recover from the psychological wounds from that experience. After the Japanese surrendered, Sledge was assigned to serve in China as part of the occupation force. Sledge returned to Mobile after his tour of duty in 1946, but found it hard to re-adjust to civilian life.
He earned a BS degree in 1949 from Alabama Polytechnic Institute (now Auburn University) and attempted to establish a career in the insurance business. On his father's advice, he returned to Auburn for an MS in Botany. In 1960, he graduated from the University of Florida with a PhD in Zoology.show more