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This is one of the most amazing stories I have ever read, rendered all the more amazing because it is pure fact, not fiction. Anyone who has any interest in the WWII action in the Pacific theater must put this on his/her reading list. As others have noted, it has echoes of "Unbroken", but not only does it cover the territory (and confirm) that book's recounting of the unspeakable horrors suffered by prisoners of war at the hands of the Japanese, it covers so many other aspects of the war in the Pacific, from Pearl Harbor to Bataan and the Philippines to the great land and sea battles including Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Leyte Gulf, the Coral Sea - all told from first hand accounts of the three brothers who were there and who could comment not only on the battles but on the commanders who ran them - MacArthur, Halsey, Nimitz, Turner and others. In addition, one of the brothers - the father of the author by the way - witnessed the early years of the war from the inner circle of the White House. He ran (actually, created) FDR's vaunted strategic "map room" and there interacted daily with the president and his war staff (as well as first lady Eleanor) before he, too, shipped out to join the war at sea. To have these three brothers all as first-hand witnesses to some of the major events of the war is itself astounding, and as you would expect, leads to some equally amazing - and heart-wrenching - tales from their home front, focusing on their indomitable mother, Helen. The author spent ten years researching this material not only from family archives but from sources scattered all over the world. She pulls it together beautifully. I couldn't put this book down. I walked extra miles just so I could keep listening and it left me in tears and emotionally drained at the end. Please read or listen to it; it is unforgettable. Brava Sally Mott Freeman!
6 of 7 people found this review helpful
I finished this book on Memorial Day. It was fitting and relevant. Our family dinner a few hours later included a 92-year-old WWII veteran - a navy man. I had a new awareness of what he might have seen and what he knew. Our conversation that day had far more depth than anything I would have previously imagined. Simply for this spark and understanding, the book is worthy of its 5-star rating.
This isn't a perfect book, but I don't think that would be possible. It's a personal story about one family's experience. By keeping it honest, it lost out on the gloss that fiction might have provided. It is a poignant reminder of all the ways families have been touched by war -- and that's not pretty. There's also an underlying story of family culture and the way harsh experiences get layered.
No, it's not an easy listen. But two days later, I'm still thinking about it and sorting out what remains. It's that kind of book.
8 of 10 people found this review helpful
I heard the author being interviewed on the history of world war two podcast by Ray Harris Jr. Her story sounded very interesting. The author brings you on a fascinating journey through the Pacific theatre, explaining how 3 brothers experienced the war, at almost every level. It's beautifully written, and the research is magnificent.