The Ultimate Battle: Okinawa 1945--The Last Epic Struggle of World War II

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Simon and Schuster, Oct 14, 2008 - History - 416 pages
11 Reviews
The Ultimate Battle is the full story of the last great clash of World War II as it has never before been told. With the same "grunt's-eye-view" narrative style that distinguished his Brotherhood of Heroes (on the Battle of Peleliu), Bill Sloan presents a gripping and uniquely personal saga of heroism and sacrifice in which at least 115,000 soldiers, sailors, and airmen from both sides were killed, as were nearly 150,000 civilians caught in the crossfire or encouraged to commit suicide by Japanese troops.

It is a story set against a panorama of more than 1,500 American ships, nearly two thousand Japanese kamikazes sworn to sink those ships, and two huge armies locked in a no-quarter struggle to the death -- the 541,000 GIs and Marines of the U.S. Tenth Army, and Japan's 110,000-man 32nd Army. Woven into the broader narrative, in Band of Brothers style, are the personal stories of men who endured this epic battle and were interviewed by the author. In many cases, their experiences are told here in print for the first time.

A few days after Japanese defenders surprised American assault troops by allowing them to land virtually unopposed on April 1, 1945, scouts of the 96th Division stumbled onto the outerworks of formidable Japanese defenses near Kakazu Ridge, where fierce fighting erupted. It would continue without respite for nearly three months as American forces used every weapon and strategy at their disposal to break through three cunningly designed Japanese lines of defense, each anchored by commanding high ground, intricate underground installations, and massed artillery. When one line was about to be breached, the Japanese would slip away to the next one, forcing the Americans to repeat the same exhausting and deadly "corkscrew and blowtorch" assaults all over again.

Much of the action in The Ultimate Battle unfolds among men pinned down under relentless fire on disputed hillsides, in the ruins of shell-blasted villages, and inside stricken tanks and armored cars. Sloan also takes readers aboard flaming ships and into the cockpits of night-fighter aircraft to capture the horror and heroism of men and vessels besieged by kamikazes.

When the battle was over, most of the GIs, Marines, and sailors who survived it were too worn out to celebrate. More than 49,000 of their comrades had been killed or wounded, and they knew that the even more brutal invasion of Japan's home islands loomed just ahead. But as Sloan makes clear, the slaughter at Okinawa helped to convince President Truman to use the atomic bomb against Japanese cities in the hope of shortening the war and averting a far more horrific loss of life.

The Ultimate Battle is a searing and unforgettable recreation of the Okinawa campaign as it was experienced by men who were there. It is filled with fresh insights that only those men can provide.
  

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Review: The Ultimate Battle: Okinawa, 1945: The Last Epic Struggle of World War II

User Review  - Mark A Powell - Goodreads

After D-Day and the defeat of Hitler, the battle of Okinawa proved to be one of the deadliest battles in WWII. Sloan allows eyewitness narratives to transport readers to the frontlines through the ... Read full review

Review: The Ultimate Battle: Okinawa, 1945: The Last Epic Struggle of World War II

User Review  - Joelwakefield - Goodreads

This book is a remarkable series of anecdotes that highlight moments in the 45 day battle for Okinawa that ranks up there among the harshest of what war has to offer - and which also argues pretty ... Read full review

Contents

June 10 1945
2
Building an Iceberg
9
Like a Stroll in the Park
30
Okinawa 1945
32
Kids Games Pony Rides and Barbecue
53
A Nasty Surprise on the Way South
67
Southern Okinawa
75
A Divine and Deadly Wind
88
Divine WindPart II
216
The Crowded Angry Skies
238
Collapse of the Shuri Line
255
The End of an Army
273
A Civilian Catastrophe
296
A Somber Victory
312
The Atomic Bomband Reprieve
331
Love Day Plus Sixtytwo Years
353

Death in the Hills Death at Home
112
A Wall of Stone and Flame
135
Mud Blood and Mayhem
151
Bitter Toll at Sugar Loaf
174
The Limits of Human Endurance
195
Sources
365
Bibliography
377
Acknowledgments
383
Index
385
Copyright

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About the author (2008)

Bill Sloan is a respected military historian and author of more than a dozen books, including Brotherhood of Heroes: The Ultimate Battle. He lives in Dallas, Texas.

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