Seven Stars: The Okinawa Battle Diaries of Simon Bolivar Buckner, Jr. and Joseph Stilwell

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Texas A&M University Press, 2004 - Biography & Autobiography - 189 pages
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Battle diaries are essential for understanding what generals are thinking as they work their way through the fog of battle. Nicholas Sarantakes juxtaposes the diaries of two very different generals who both fought at Okinawa: Lt. Gen. Buckner, a by–the–numbers man who favored the use of artillery and tanks to reduce entrenched positions, and Gen. Stilwell, a prickly outsider who preferred maneuver to set–piece battles. Sarantakes identifies individuals, includes explanations of important events alluded to by the generals and provides glossaries of main characters and military terms. The result is a record of how Buckner and Stilwell came to grips with the problems of command on a war-torn island at the end of a long logistical tether.

With the background information provided by Sarantakes, the diaries of these men become accessible to the reader. Buckner is the more restrained, a southern gentleman whose career was average and whose diary entries are interspersed with letters to his wife. He shuttles between forward command posts and shipboard conferences, noting how much rain has fallen, how many enemy have been killed, and how many aircraft have been shot down.

Stilwell is a self-styled outsider, a brilliant warrior with the social graces of a porcupine. He dislikes Buckner and has little patience for his irreverent humor. Stilwell writes, “Buckner is tiresome. I tried to tell him what I had seen, but he knew it all. Keeps repeating his wise-cracks. ‘The Lord said let there be mud,’ etc. etc.” ( June 5, 1944). Stilwell’s entries are peppered with frank and often acrid observations about everything and everybody. He dismisses the British as “hoggish, inconsiderate” Limeys and atomic scientists as “temperamental bugs.”

The battle for Okinawa was a pivotal event in World War II and has the distinction of being the single bloodiest conflict in the history of the United States Navy. The diaries of these two men provide a new perspective from which to evaluate the events. This book is a fascinating exploration of the art of leading troops in battle and will interest scholars and students of the Pacific War.

 

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Contents

BUCKNER
15
BUCKNER AND STILWELL
70
STILWELL
85
TAPS
129
GLOSSARY OF TERMS
137
PERSONS MENTIONED IN THE DIARIES
141
NOTES
155
BIBLIOGRAPHY
177
INDEX
183
Copyright

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Page 30 - I doubt if the Army's slow, methodical method of fighting really saves any lives in the long run. It merely spreads the casualties over a longer period. The longer period greatly increases the naval casualties when Jap air attacks on ships is a continuing factor" (Buell, The Quiet Warrior, 387).
Page 30 - I doubt if the Army slow, methodical method of fighting really saves any lives in the long run. It merely spreads the casualties over a longer period. The longer period greatly increases the naval casualties when Jap air attacks on ships is a continuing factor. However, I do not think the Army is at all allergic to losses of naval ships and personnel. "There are times when I get impatient for some of Holland Smith's drive, but there is nothing we can do about it.

About the author (2004)

NICHOLAS EVAN SARANTAKES is an assistant professor at Texas A&M University?Commerce. He holds a Ph.D. in history from the University of Southern California and has written on both military history and foreign policy, including Keystone: The American Occupation of Okinawa and U.S.-Japanese Relations published by Texas A&M University Press.

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