D-Day in the Pacific: The Battle of Saipan

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Indiana University Press, May 2, 2007 - History - 296 pages

In June 1944 the attention of the nation was riveted on events unfolding in France. But in the Pacific, the Battle of Saipan was of extreme strategic importance. This is a gripping account of one of the most dramatic engagements of World War II. The conquest of Saipan and the neighboring island of Tinian was a turning point in the war in the Pacific as it made the American victory against Japan inevitable. Until this battle, the Japanese continued to believe that success in the war remained possible. While Japan had suffered serious setbacks as early as the Battle of Midway in 1942, Saipan was part of her inner defense line, so victory was essential. The American victory at Saipan forced Japan to begin considering the reality of defeat. For the Americans, the capture of Saipan meant secure air bases for the new B-29s that were now within striking distance of all Japanese cities, including Tokyo.

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The author makes judgements about Howlin' Mad Smith and Marine Tactics that I find are unwarranted judgments and comments. For example, he points out the Marines frontal assaults would accomplish the mission faster at the expense of more casualties while the Army methodically cleared the way for their assaults with artillery. This was slower, but caused fewer casualties (around the discussion about the Gilberts). Later on, what is funny, is that he has to make the conclusion that the rapid victories (arguably caused by Marine's aggressive frontal assaults) paved the way for other actions that the extra time made crucial (i.e. Hitler's pursuit of the atomic bomb that could very well be given to the Japanese had we not acted as quickly as we could! as one strategic example). The author seemed like he had some bias against Marine leaders and Marine operations in general. From what I read, I would not buy this author's version of events. 

About the author (2007)

Harold J. Goldberg is the David E. Underdown Distinguished Professor of History and Chair of the Asian Studies Program at the University of the South in Sewanee, Tennessee.

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