From Shanghai to Wake Island, the Corps was America’s first line of defense as the winds of war exploded into the devastating surprise attack on Pearl Harbor. This is the story of the men of the Marine Corps, their loves and loyalties, an elite fraternity united by courage and honor, as they steel themselves for battle, prepared to make the ultimate sacrifice....
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There is no doubt in my mind that I first picked up this series when I was way too young, impressionable minds and all. So it shouldn't be surprising that it indeed left a fairly big impression. While I was still first learning about some of the events covered in this series, I was enjoying this colorful take on the men who made up the corps, which played such an instrumental part in the triumphs and tragedies of the Pacific War. The most notable thing I think I took away from the series then, was a more skeptical view of institutional figures like Douglas MacArthur, and a whimsical appreciation for the accidents of fate that come together to create the history we take for granted. Not bad for a series that according to Wikipedia, can't even settle on the given names of some of its recurring characters, right?
The great shame, so many years ago, was that I could never find audio versions, unabridged or otherwise, of the first two books. And now, here they are, and dirt cheap in audiobook terms at least. And read by Dick Hill no less! The great thing about W.E.B. Griffin is that by all accounts, he wrote about things he'd experienced or people he knew well had gone through, so these books have the feel of a good, larger than life war story, the "let me tell you about the time I..." kind, a sort we're not likely to see many more of any time soon.
Reading this book for the first time, I was taken with some of the details; how the US and other allies coexisted with Axis forces in China in 1941, how much of the military establishment remained absolutely convinced of the ineptness of Japanese soldiery, and the brutality and corruption present in the armed forces. You can also get a hint at the strength of the organization which saw a war coming and strove to prepare, reaching into the enlisted ranks and out to the unlikeliest civilian recruits to find officers with the skills necessary to win. It's a lively tale worth revisiting, and certainly a rather painless try at this unbeatable price. I had thought Audible was planning to release the series at a steady pace, but it appears that is not to be, I hope to see the next one out soon.
My brother in law is a retired US Marine Lt Colonel. I remember his mother, my mother in law, reading this series and loving it. Maybe that is why it took me 20 years to try it! I knew it to be accurate, but never imagined it to be as entertaining and addicting as it is.
The main character is a reluctant hero who has killed in pre-war China out of self defense and self preservation. He is a humble man, barely out of high school, yet with a talent for languages and a raw knack for espionage.
My daughter married a young man who discovered he had a peculiar talent in languages while in seminary. He had gone through college never knowing his ability, so Griffin's hero is not so far fetched after all.
Griffin introduces us to the Corps through men and women most of us can identify with. There is intrigue, romance, action and a realism that comes from his own experiences and is still historically accurate.
Dick Hill is masterful. I have not always been happy with his narration, but in this book he is fantastic.