• Twenty-Two on Peleliu

  • Four Pacific Campaigns with the Corps: The Memoirs of an Old Breed Marine
  • By: George Peto, Peter Margaritis - With
  • Narrated by: Paul Brion
  • Length: 15 hrs and 14 mins
  • 4.7 out of 5 stars (180 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

On September 15, 1944, the US First Marine Division landed on a small island in the Central Pacific called Peleliu as a prelude to the liberation of the Philippines. Among the first wave of Marines that hit the beach that day was 22-year-old George Peto.  

Growing up on a farm in Ohio, George always preferred being outdoors and exploring. This made school a challenge, but his hunting, fishing, and trapping skills helped put food on his family's table. As a poor teenager living in a rough area, he got into regular brawls, and he found holding down a job hard because of his wanderlust. After working out West with the CCC, he decided that joining the Marines offered him the opportunity for adventure plus three square meals a day; so he and his brother joined the Corps in 1941.  

Following boot camp and training, he was initially assigned to various guard units, until he was shipped out to the Pacific and assigned to the 1st Marines. His first combat experience was the landing at Finschhaven, followed by Cape Gloucester. Then as a Forward Observer, he went ashore in one of the lead amtracs at Peleliu and saw fierce fighting for a week before the regiment was relieved due to massive casualties. Six months later, his division became the immediate reserve for the initial landing on Okinawa.

©2017 Peter Margaritis (P)2019 Tantor

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    3 out of 5 stars
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Read the book

The story itself is good but the tone of the narrator just stopped me. I couldn't get past chapter 3. I'll buy the book & read it myself

5 people found this helpful

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Magnificent memoir

Sgt Peto has a great memory of details. He asks how he got through 4 campaigns without a scratch, but in the end his purpose in life was to recount his stories. He was very honest about his choices, good and bad. This book is well written and narrated.

4 people found this helpful

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Gets Better As It Goes Along

"Twenty-Two on Peleliu" is not really about anything to do with the military campaigns in the title until about half-way through. The first couple of hours are about the life of George Peto, which isn't bad per say, but just not what is advertised. Going in the reader thinks it's going to be about combat on Peleliu and other Pacific campaigns. Needless to say it drags for quite awhile. And just when you want to give up, it picks up. And then it's a Marine's tale of Peleliu. Paul Brion's narration is a bit laborious. However upon speeding up the narration speed, that seems to help with the pacing of the book. The book definitely gets better as it goes along. Peto is one tough man and Marine.

3 people found this helpful

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Amazing Story!!

The narrator was a little soft spoken for my liking at the beginning, but as the story progresses and the action gets going it was like I was leaning in close to listen to every detail of the story being told. Fabulous.

3 people found this helpful

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Great story from the old breed marine.

Enjoyed from start to finish Great narration. history lesson for everyone especially from a Marine with incredible memory

1 person found this helpful

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Read the book, skip the audio

This is one case that I'm sure the book is much better than the audio version. You need a good nap: listen to this guy for five minutes and you'll be gone. Can't imagine if they tried they could have found a more ill suited narrator. Never did finish the book he was just so boring and difficult to listen to.

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I Was Lucky To Know George Peto

I'm a history teacher in Columbus, Ohio. In 2009 and 2010 George Peto and a fellow Marine buddy of his, Joe Dodge, spent a whole day with my students telling their respective stories from the 1944 Battle of Peleliu. It was an amazing experience for my students, and even more so for me. After 2010, my teaching schedule changed and was unable to bring in George and Joe the following year. Sadly, I lost touch.

Then, by sheer luck, I was looking at a list of books that Amazon had recommended to me in one of their generic emails. I couldn't believe my eyes when I looked closely at this one to see the author's name: 'George Peto.' I hadn't seen his name in 12 years. I got the book immediately. Now having read it and knowing George's full story, I truly wish I now could go back in time and meet him all over again. My goodness, what questions I would have for him!

Here's my review...

First thing to know about this book is that it accomplishes what all great military history books endeavor to do: it makes you, the reader, feel like you can be a little more courageous and a better person in your own life. George's story is so amazing. You'll put down this book having such a sense of awe in what he accomplished in life that you'll likely want to stand up a little straighter and face the world with a little more dignity and personal strength. This book will make you want to be a better person.

One thing that struck me very early on in this book was the voice of George Peto. His slang and attitude resonate loudly in the narrative voice that runs through the entire book. I feel like the language of this book captures most men of his generation. My grandpa, also an Ohioan of nearly the exact same age as George, spoke in much the same way. While I was reading this book, I had flashbacks of hearing my own grandpa's voice. For me, hearing that voice wasn't always pleasant. For example, on pages 247-9, he describes meeting the Navajo code-talkers, whom he referred to as 'those damn Indians.' While that mildly (but not meanly) racist jargon was difficult to read, I appreciated that it was in there and that George's narration wasn't edited or sugar-coated. This is how that generation spoke. That voice gives this book added authenticity.

This book is extremely well researched. Peter Margaritis is the co-author and he did a great deal of historical research to support everything in George's stories. This book is filled with footnotes on nearly every page. (Note: the audiobook does not include the footnotes. ) These footnotes alone could comprise a full history book. Not only do they validate almost everything that George recalled from his eidetic memory, but they provide some amazing historical details and anecdotes. I assume it took Peter Margaritis a very long time and a lot of energy doing all of that additional research. I'm appreciative of that extensive historical research.

I learned a great deal from this book. For me, it's even better than Sledge's 'With the Old Breed' in its narrative strength and how Peto describes his personal experience. This book is rich. Similar to Sledge's book, the military experience covers both the Battle of Peleliu and the Battle of Okinawa. The reader gets great insight on what those battles were like on the front lines.

I sometimes have difficulty imagining battles that I read about in a book. Not so, with this one. The writing is so clear, it was easy to envision the action.

I also learned so much about George from this book that I never knew from my personal interactions with him. First and foremost, I never realized just how funny he was. When I was with him, he was telling war stories to students. I must have missed (or had since forgotten) his sense of humor and playfulness. He clearly had a great sense of humor. When he and Joe spoke to my classes, they disregarded PTSD. One of them said they didn't even believe in it. But this book belies that. George is very honest about his own struggles during and after the war and what he saw others go through.

The only thing lacking in this book is an index.

If you listen to the audiobook version on Audible, the narrator does a fantastic job of capturing the voice of a gruff marine. However, (and this is just a trivial little thing) it's clear that the narrator is not familiar with Central Ohio, given his pronunciation of such words like 'Scioto' and 'Urbana.' If you know Ohio, you'll chuckle upon hearing those passages near the end of the book.

I expected this book to be good. I didn't know it was going to be great. It was. I spent two full work days with George Peto and Joe Dodge over the course of two years and got to know them both a little bit. I'm so lucky I got to have that experience. Reading this book enhanced that experience even more.

It will enhance your life as well. Whether you read this book to learn more about the battles of Peleliu and Okinawa or if you just need a fantastic autobiography of a 'Greatest Generation' veteran, this book will deliver the goods. You will feel even more indebted to the World War Two generation. It will indeed inspire you to be a better person.

Thank you, George Peto.

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A Great Story

This was a very enjoyable book. I think they missed the boat by not making it two books.
He could have made a book out of his childhood exploits, it was very interesting the traveling and experiences he had as a teenager and young adult.

I was a little disappointed by the Peleliu section.
I knew Chesty’s men got decimated, but by the title I thought there there more to it. All in all this was a great book and I will probably listen to it at least one more time.

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A Good Account

It was a good accounting of what went on in those campaign and as advertised the author had good recall. The story of his early life was a bit too much I thought.
The performance was as others said a bit soft and I have to say I didn’t find Peto a very likable guy, that is until Old Friends Chapter. It was when it all seemed to come together and I realized he was an extremely good and likable fellow

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America doesn’t spit them out as tough as this anymore!!

This breed of soldiers I’m fascinated with. Today’s soldiers have learned so much from this breed. This dying breed were some serious tough marines! I just hope the courage and honor follow them to a place of peace. Lord knows they deserve it!

THIS IS WHY I STAND FOR THE NATIONAL ANTHEM!!

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  • Jonathan Hayes
  • 04-25-20

Amazing,Brilliant,Fantastic!!

brilliant book,the whole time I was drawn to it not once did I loose interest,would definitely recommend 100%

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  • Kieron Ross
  • 01-25-20

An amazing biography if a real hero.

One of the best Pacific war biographies ever written.
This book will make you laugh, cry and be amazed at the shocking experiences this incredible guy has been though in his life. Narration excellent too.

2 people found this helpful

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  • S. Morris
  • 10-16-21

Interesting, But Not The Best

After reading Eugene Sledge's memoir of his Pacific campaigns, particularly his time fighting on Peleliu, I thought it would be interesting to read about another U.S Marine's time on that God forsaken and often overlooked island that formed part of the Pacific campaign of World War II. Seeing this book had good reviews and included that island as well as Okinawa, I purchased it. If nothing else, it would provide more, and sometimes overlapping, commentary on combat on those two particular islands and create a more complete picture.

I'll cut to the chase here, I was somewhat disappointed with this memoir compared to Eugene Sledge's 'With The Old Breed'. I found it lacked the more verbose visceral descriptions of the horrific conditions that Sledge experienced. In many ways for me, it was the conditions and how it impacted the human spirit that Sledge put across so well. Sure, George Peto was certainly a brave Marine and fought well. However, despite the often vivid combat accounts, I felt his writing lacked the impact of Sledge's. In particular, I felt Peto's writing about Peleliu less brutal and harrowing than Sledge's account. It's not that Peto's memoir was somehow bad, it just lacked as much a sense of the terror and misery written about in 'With The Old Breed'. Sledge's telling of his time on Peleliu has left an indelible mark on me that I've not found any other memoir to quite achieve in the same way.

Sledge and Peto were very different men, and perhaps this is part of the reason their experiences are written about differently. Peto, a poorly educated, rough and ready sort of kid coming from a dirt poor family whose father was an abusive alcoholic, contrasts the intelligent, well balanced frail boy who was more a thinker than a natural fighter. Their very different upbringing led to them seeing the horrors of war in slightly different ways. Sledge was a man who followed orders, didn't drink and wouldn't break the rules. On the other hand, Peto would regularly get drunk when he had a sniff at alcohol, even building their own still with his friends to brew questionable alcohol on the battlefield. In addition, Peto would often speak of women and his use of language when describing them often left me cold, his prose sometimes on the immature side. For example, he describes one native girl on Cape Gloucester as having, "large jugs," or words to that effect. Although he might well have thought that way as a sex starved 21 year old at the time, his choice of language when recounting those thoughts in his 90's, I found to be somewhat inappropriate, something that Peter Margaritis who put the book together really ought to have exercised some professionalism and edited. Further, his description of the native American code talkers he knew was poorly worded. They were "Indians" and their language was "gibberish" according to Peto. Similarly, the Japanese were "Little bastards" etc. Again, I understand both the different way people spoke back then and how a combat veteran may feel about the Japanese, but I still felt it crude to use such language today. In addition, his focus on sex was too much at times and I felt it was perhaps a product of his upbringing and background. As mentioned, Sledge was a more introvert, thoughtful man who never mentioned chasing women while on liberty and certainly had no time to remind the reader about the lack of female company while in combat.

In addition, I felt this book spent way too much time detailing Peto's childhood. Now, I fully appreciate that to understand the man, one often has to present some background. In the case of 22 on Peleliu, over two hours of the book was dedicated to all the exploits he got up to in the depression as a kid. Frankly, many of the things he appeared to recount with relish, were things I'd have edited out of a book or summarized. It was probably sufficient to explain that he had a hard time as a kid, with an abusive father, a subjugated and ineffective mother and did some things he wasn't proud of. Although Peto never lacked courage, even exhibiting a degree of foolhardiness in his youth, his personality traits didn't endear him to me. it might have been this lack of sensitivity that made him stronger mentally during combat. I think even Sledge alluded to something along those lines in his memoir.

What I did find interesting, was being able to fill in gaps in elements of the Peleliu campaign. Peto was perhaps only 300 yards to Sledge's left when coming ashore on that coral island and I was fascinated to compare their progress and the different challenges they faced at the same time. Now, what i need to find is an account of that landing from someone in the 7th Marines who came ashore to Sledge's right father along the beach.

After reading Sledge's memoir, I subsequently read R.V Burgen's book, 'Islands of The Damned' to provide perspective from another Marine in Sledge's company. That book, too, is one I'd recommend and is written by a man who didn't try to bed women whenever on liberty, instead marrying the girl he met in Melbourne and perhaps got drunk once or twice when off duty and recuperating between campaigns. Burgen's memoir isn't as visceral as Sledge's but it is a worthy companion to 'With The Old Breed'. Further, I found Burgen's account of his time on Cape Gloucester to be a little more focused on the combat rather than chasing native girls.

Peto saw plenty of combat on Okinawa, perhaps more than Sledge, as Sledge was a 60mm mortar man and not up front with the rifle men most of the time. Here, again, is where Sledge's prose paints a more deprived and miserable picture of the conditions on Okinawa and some of the night actions. I'll always remember how Sledge's fox hole at one point on Okinawa allowed him to see a vista of utter destruction and horror, lit up at night by occasional green flares that cast eerie shadows on the grotesque decomposing corpses littering the battlefield. One corpse in particular, a U.S Marine sat in a crater a little distance away facing Sledge, would slowly rot over days, his skeletal fingers still grasping his weapon, his ghoulish features decaying into a ghastly scull. These sorts of accounts of the unspeakable horrors left me far more impacted than simple tales of combat. Perhaps it's just me and my own sensibilities that much prefer Sledge's writing, I'm not entirely sure.

Interestingly for me, as I read the Okinawa campaign from Peto, there was a situation where I'm sure Sledge talked about and it might have been that those two Marines, at that point, were just yards from each other. After the Okinawa campaign had ended, Peto remained on Okinawa while Sledge shipped out to China and his comrade, Burgen, went home to the United States. It was interesting to hear what happened after most Marines left the island, as it added more to what went on during the aftermath of the battle.

So, yes, I found Peto's memoir interesting and it added to my overall picture of the battles for Peleliu and Okinawa in particular. However, as a memoir of combat, it doesn't provide the reader with quite the sense of the filth and misery just being in those places caused and as such doesn't paint as complete a picture of the combat endured by all those involved.

Oh, one production niggle I had that I found mildly irritating. There was some sort of audio issue, a very faint background one that sounded like a cricket was chirping away each time the narrator spoke a few words. At first I actually thought it was some critter that had crept into the recording studio and was hiding in some cabinet or something. However, it seemed to be some sort of artefact of the recording, perhaps a tiny vibration on the microphone stand or within the mic itself. It wasn't always present, there were long sections, likely different recording sessions, where I didn't hear the faint cricket. Many listeners will not likely notice this very faint background sound, so it's by no means a deal breaker for choosing this title, just something I noticed that was a little tiresome. One of those things that is so minor you don't notice it at all to start with, but if you listen on full cupped headphones as I do, then you may start to pick it up, and once you can hear it, it will niggle at you.

Overall, 22 on Peleliu is an interesting account of combat, but it's not the best in my opinion. Check out the aforementioned titles and Eugene Sledge's book, in particular, if you want better.

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  • Sandy
  • 05-31-21

I really enjoyed this book. What a life story.

I thought it was quite slow to begin with and the narrator took some getting used to. But once George got into the Pacific it really took off.

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  • Anthony
  • 12-28-21

Great read

A well written memoir of an often overlooked conflict. A great story that everyone should read and appreciate the sacrifice our forefathers made

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  • Anonymous User
  • 09-16-20

Absolute must read/ listen

Fantastic storytelling and a great recollection of the Pacific campaign by an old breed marine

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