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South Pacific Cauldron: World War II's Great Forgotten Battlegroundsby Alan Rems
Synopses & Reviews
The war in the South Pacific in its entirety has remained remarkably neglected by historians. This is the first comprehensive narrative history covering all land, sea and air operations in the theater to the end of World War II.
While Guadalcanal is familiar to most Americans and the Kokoda Trail is well known to Australians, the war in the South Pacific includes many now forgotten operations that deserve to be well remembered. Also, significantly, the official Australian history of World War II correctly observed that Australia's part in the Pacific war is barely mentioned in American histories. This volume finally brings the major Australian contribution to the fore, recognizing too the valuable part played by New Zealand forces in the Solomons campaign.
The dramatis personae could hardly be improved upon, including brilliant and imperious General Douglas MacArthur, audacious and profane Admiral William "Bull" Halsey, and bibulous and indelicate Australian General Thomas Blamey. No less interesting are many others that will be mostly new to readers, many from the Japanese side, including indomitable generals Noboru Sasaki and Hatazo Adachi. As for the fighting men, many of their stories are captured in accounts of the actions for which they were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, Victoria Cross, and other decorations for valor.
Three chapters are of special interest. Based on the author's archival research, Chapter 10 tells through confidential correspondence the remarkable story of the death of the top Marine general in the Pacific and its cover-up sanctioned by Halsey. Chapter 23 concerns the first African-American ground troops in combat and tells how the performance of one company on Bougainville resulted in a reversal of that policy. Chapter 26 involves Blamey's questionable decision to eradicate the isolated Japanese forces, forcing his Australian militia to risk their lives knowing their sacrifices could make no difference in the outcome of the war.
The 26 maps included were carefully chosen from official American and Australian sources and the 70 photographs, many rarely seen, were selected to best illuminate the text.
While the Pacific War has been widely studied by military historians and venerated in popular culture through movies and other media, the fighting in the South Pacific theater has, with few exceptions, been remarkably neglected. Worthy of remembrance no less than Wake Island, Leyte Gulf, and Tarawa are the great unsung battlefields of Buna, Shaggy Ridge, and the Driniumor River on New Guinea, the torpedo-infested waters off New Georgia, and the deadly skies over Rabaul and Wewak.
Authoritative yet written in a highly readable narrative style, South Pacific Cauldron is the first complete history embracing all land, sea, and air operations in this critically important sector of the oceanic conflict. South Pacific operations are covered in detail, including the little-known, final Australian campaigns that continued until the Japanese surrender. Based on the author's archival research, the long-suppressed story about the death of a leading Marine Corps general at his headquarters is revealed, as is the subsequent cover up sanctioned by Admiral Halsey. Also examined are the issues faced by the segregated Army in employing African-American troops in combat.
Author Alan Rems breathes life into the major figures of the South Pacific campaigns, including brilliant and imperious Gen. Douglas MacArthur, audacious and profane Adm. William "Bull" Halsey, and bibulous and indelicate Australian general Thomas Blamey. No less interesting are others that will be mostly new to readers, many from the Japanese side, including indomitable generals Noboru Sasaki and Hatazo Adachi. The experiences of the individual fighting men are captured in accounts of actions for which the Medal of Honor, Victoria Cross, and other decorations for valor were conferred.
South Pacific Cauldron's story is enhanced with sixteen maps and forty-two photographs, many rarely seen, that were carefully chosen from official American and Australian sources. The book includes a detailed chronology to put the widely separated operations in context and a detailed bibliography for additional reading on the subject.
About the Author
Retired CPA Alan Rems has been a regular contributor to Naval History magazine since his first attempt earned him the U.S. Naval Institute's 2008 Author of the Year award. Responding to veteran complaints in the literature that the war in the South Pacific is little known, Rems has written the first complete history of World War II there. Alan and his wife Janet, a retired newspaper editor, live in Centreville, Virginia.
Table of Contents
List of Illustrations and Maps
List of Abbreviations
Chapter One: "The Hottest Potato"
Chapter Two: "I Want You to Take Buna, or Not Come Back Alive"
Chapter Three: "There Was Indeed Only One Yamamoto"
Chapter Four: "The Most Unintelligently Waged Land Campaign"
Chapter Five: "A Custody Receipt for Munda . . . Keep 'Em Dying"
Chapter Six: "Lae and Salamaua Must Be Defended to the Death"
Chapter Seven: "Prevent Your Troops Engaging My Troops"
Chapter Eight: "The Weakness of Trying to Fight Battles from a Distance"
Chapter Nine: "It's Torokina. Now Get on Your Horses!"
Chapter Ten: "Halsey Knows the Straight Story"
Chapter Eleven: "Make Sure They Think the Invasion Has Commenced"
Chapter Twelve: "Guadalcanal--Minus Most of the Errors"
Chapter Thirteen: "The Final Outcome . . . Was Never in Doubt"
Chapter Fourteen: "The Most Desperate Emergency"
Chapter Fifteen: "The Closest Thing to a Living Hell"
Chapter Sixteen: "A Shop in the Japs' Front Yard"
Chapter Seventeen: "More Nerve-Racking Than . . . Tobruk or El Alamein"
Chapter Eighteen: "Nature Proved to Be a Worse Enemy Than the Japanese"
Chapter Nineteen: "Keep Rabaul Burning!"
Chapter Twenty: "The Worst-Kept Secret of the War in the South Pacific"
Chapter Twenty-One: "But for the Stern Resistance . . . of the XIV Corps"
Chapter Twenty-Two: "They Wanted to Fight"
Chapter Twenty-Three: "The South Pacific Campaign Was Finished"
Chapter Twenty-Four: "Kicking Around a Corpse"
Chapter Twenty-Five: "The Japanese Could Die Where They Were or Die Advancing"
Chapter Twenty-Six: "Doubtful That He Checked with the Ordinary Foot Soldier"
Chapter Twenty-Seven: "No Enemy Can Withstand You"
Chapter Twenty-Eight: "Japan Man 'E Cry Enough"
Chapter Twenty-Nine: "Once It Was Over It Was Over"
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