|| Guadalcanal Diary (Modern Library War)
In the summer and fall of 1942, American Marines landed on the South Pacific island of Guadalcanal and began the slow, bloody work of defeating the Japanese empire. Their landing was significant not only for the outcome of World War II, but also for the conduct of war ever since, for the invasion of Guadalcanal marked the first time that a combined air, sea, and land assault had ever been attempted. It is for that reason that tacticians and military historians study the months-long battle today, and their primary guide to that conflict is Richard Tregaskis's extraordinary Guadalcanal Diary.
A volunteer combat correspondent, Tregaskis braved much danger to bring the story of the fighting to American readers. But he was not one to celebrate his own exploits, and in the pages of his book, he centers on the brave young men from all over the United States who fought and died in appalling numbers. His attention to detail yields arresting descriptions of attacks and counterattacks, of moments of low morale and of exaltation, of moments of quiet behind the lines and of sheer terror at the very point of engagement. Tregaskis's style is unadorned and matter-of-fact, and his present-tense narrative places the reader in the thick of the battle during those "hopeless weeks."
The direct literary ancestor of books of military reportage such as Mark Bowden's Black Hawk Down and Michael Herr's Dispatches, Guadalcanal Diary is an exemplary work of journalism, and as vivid a portrait of men under fire as has ever been committed to print. --Gregory McNamee