• Island Infernos

  • The US Army's Pacific War Odyssey, 1944
  • By: John C. McManus
  • Narrated by: Walter Dixon
  • Length: 25 hrs and 12 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (42 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

From the author of Fire and Fortitude and Island Infernos, the final volume of John C. McManus's trilogy on the US Army in the Pacific War, from the liberation of the Philippines to the Japanese surrender

The dawn of 1945 finds a US Army at its peak in the Pacific. Allied victory over Japan is all but assured. The only question is how many more months - or years - of fight does the enemy have left. John C. McManus’s magisterial series, described by the Wall Street Journal as being “as vast and splendid as Rick Atkinson’s Pulitzer Prize-winning Liberation Trilogy,” returns with this brilliant final volume. On the island of Luzon, a months-long stand-off between US and Japanese troops finally breaks open, as American soldiers push into Manila, while paratroopers capture nearby Corregidor. The Philippines are soon liberated, and Allied warlords turn their eyes to Iwo Jima, Okinawa, and the Japanese home islands themselves. Readers will walk in the boots of American soldiers and officers, braving intense heat, rampant disease, and a by-now suicidal enemy, determined to kill as many opponents as possible before defeat. At the same time, this outstanding narrative lays bare the titanic ego and ambition of the Pacific War’s greatest general, Douglas MacArthur, and the complex challenge he faced in Japan’s unconditional surrender and America’s lengthy occupation.

©2021 John C. McManus (P)2021 Penguin Audio

Critic Reviews

“McManus follows Fortitude and Fire with an outstanding second volume in his planned trilogy on the Pacific theater of WWII.... Distinguished by informative deep dives into logistical and strategic issues and McManus’s storytelling prowess, this is an excellent study of how the U.S. turned the tide of the war in the Pacific.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

“The second of the author’s three-volume chronicle of the war against Japan is well worth the wait.... McManus’ expertise shines brightest in his gripping descriptions of the tactics, technology, personalities, and gruesome fighting in a score of island campaigns.... Outstanding military history.” (Kirkus, starred review)

“Evenly written and insightful.... McManus details how the U.S. Army matured into a professional force capable of sophisticated tactical and logistical maneuvers.... Importantly, McManus gives much-needed attention to the experiences of Black soldiers.... Command decisions and vivid descriptions of frontline combat are expertly interwoven to paint a fuller and more complex picture.” (Library Journal)

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Wonderful book, but incomplete and poorly narrated.

McManus did a wonderful job of research and writing, though he chops off the story short of the invasion of Luzon. We never get anything after the Leyte campaign. No liberation of Manila, no battle of Okinawa, no Attu and Kiska, no occupation, no real focus on the Army Air Corps’s achievements. And yet we hear of Stillwell’s campaigns in Burma, which isn’t in the Pacific nor an island.

The narration was poor insofar as pronunciation of Japanese, Guamanian, and Filipino names. It was truly bad. The narrator botched the old pronunciation of the capital of Guam (I’ve been there…and my dad helped liberate it); he mispronounced the third largest island in the Philippine archipelago; he mispronounced Japanese names way more often than not. Early on he mispronounced one Japanese general’s name only to mispronounce it differently seconds later.

Reviewers have said McManus downplayed Japanese atrocities. Nonsense. He devoted an entire long and painful chapter to them.

Another reviewer viewed the book as “woke garbage” because McManus properly framed and accurately reported the American racism of the era. My uncle’s letters from that theater (he served on New Guinea and the Philippines) support McManus’s assertions. Since when is acknowledging an uncomfortable fact a sin? That’s honest work by any historian.

This is a good book to read on the heels of Thomas Ricks’ “The Generals”. Both are excellent studies on leadership.

2 people found this helpful

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The History Got Lost

I picked up this book to understand the US Army's role in the Pacific war. Some portions of the book did a good job of covering the history. Coverage of the New Guinea Campaign was okay. The book leaves out the Okinawa campaign, provides little information about the Phillipines, and spends an inordinate amount of time bitching about the marine corps getting the lions share of credit for the success of the Pacific War success. this is poor history don't waste your time or credits.

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Island campaigns

ggreat book. it shed a lot of light on the generals that ran the war. I had not heard any of this. Major egos. And the conditions these soldiers fought in. Jungle warfare. and the conditions of the Japanese POW camps. I had a lot of respect for the WW II men, including my Dad. I have only more respect now after reading this book.

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Magnificent!

The second book in a trilogy of a long overdue look at the US Army and their battle against the military forces of the Japanese Empire. The US Marine Corps has gotten the bulk of credit in winning the war in the Pacific, and they definitely deserve their reputation as fierce warriors. However, not many know the Army fought more battles and made more amphibious landings than the Marines during the war. This trilogy corrects these misconceptions and places the US Army in its correct place in history. John McManus hits a home run, and Walter Dixon is the perfect narrator. I highly recommend this audio book.