One Square Mile of Hell; The Battle for Tarawa

I love to read of our military history. I want to know at what price our freedoms were bought and I believe that if we don't know history we will fail to see clearly the horrors and the pitfalls of the future. This book shows how fighting a fanatical enemy takes guts, and national will. War is a horrible thing, but sometimes it is the lesser of two evils and we as a people have to be willing to pay the price if needed. In World War II we had people who were willing to lay down their lives and today we have people who are willing to make that sacrifice, but we as a people have to have the fortitude to go the distance too.

Book Description:

In the Tarawa atoll lies the tiny islet of Betio—barely a speck on the map in the Pacific Ocean. In November 1943, the young men of the 2d Marine Division watched in awe as naval and air bombardments smashed and incinerated the island and its Japanese defenses. Then they were to simply sweep across the island, clearing out any token resistance, and return to their waiting ships.

But when the Marines landed, the truth became nightmarishly clear as the Japanese—most of whom had, incredibly, survived the onslaught—poured out of their protective subterranean bunkers and began one of the most brutal and bloody encounters of World War II.

During the ensuing three days of nonstop fighting, the entire island was transformed into an all-encompassing kill zone. Attackers and defenders faced off with one another over every square inch of sand in a battle with no defined frontlines, in which combatants found themselves mixed together in a chaotic hell of cross fires, and where there was no possibility of retreat—if only because there was nowhere to retreat to. It was a clash that would leave both sides stunned and exhausted, and prove both the fighting mettle of the Americans and the fanatical devotion of the Japanese.

Drawn from new sources, such as participants’ letters and diaries and exclusive firsthand interviews with survivors of those bloody three days, One Square Mile of Hell is the riveting true account of a battle between two determined foes, neither of whom would ever look at the other in the same way again.

Back to Book Reviews