Royal Navy and Maritime Book Reviews PROVIDED BY - Rob Jerrard

Zenith Publishing, An Imprint of MBI Publishing Company


Iwo Jima

Author: Eric Hammel

ISBN: 0760325200

Publishers: Zenith Press, An Imprint of MBI Publishing Company

Price £25

Publication Date: 2006

Publisher’s Title Information


Iwo Jima is perhaps the hardest won and most famous battle in the Pacific theater during World War II. The award-winning, iconic photo of Marines raising the American flag during the battle is known by millions of Americans as the symbol of how hard fought the victory was in the war. Iwo Jima: Portrait of a Battle: United States Marines in the Pacific takes this iconic flag-raising photo one step further. In incredible duotone reproduction, over 500 photos taken by Marine Corps combat photographers are featured, including over 300 never before published that were discovered in Marine Corps archives by author and military historian Eric Hammel.

The photos vividly recreate the battle of Iwo Jima, as it happened: the pummeling of inland targets, the strafing, and the rocket fire that accompanied the landing; the eerie silence that greeted the Marines as they set foot on the island; and then, as the newly-landed Marines regrouped on the shoreline, the horrors of all hell breaking loose. The fighting that followed-thirty-four of the bloodiest days of the Pacific War-comes to harrowing life in this volume. Iwo Jima is a uniquely fitting tribute to the valiant struggle that gave us our most enduring image of victory in World War II. The book is an instant classic military history of the Marines in World War II and a necessary addition to any serious collection of World War II literature. Includes full reproductions of Medal of Honor citations and profiles of the recipients throughout.

 Then in as bloody and bluntly violent a war as Americans encountered in the Pacific, Iwo Jima, the ultimate expression of death and mayhem. It was in a class by itself, a meatgrinder smashed by a blunt instrument at exceedingly high cost. Relying upon a purely attritional strategy of "defend-and-die," Iwo's Japanese commander oversaw the construction of thousands of concrete bunkers, pillboxes, blockhouses, and other fighting positions as well as multi-storey underground command centers and barracks, some as deep as seventy-five feet.

By D-day; February 19, 1945, most of these formidable defenses had been interconnected by eleven miles of underground passageways. Manning these positions were twenty-three thousand Japanese army and navy troops, many of them elite veterans of combat in the Pacific and China. Hundreds of mortars, artillery pieces, and rocket tubes had been painstakingly pre-registered, allowing them to hit virtually any spot on the island with their first shot.

The defenders had bonded into a brotherhood born of the hardship they endured building bunkers and underground passageways in the extreme heat laced with sulfurous fumes of the volcanic island. In the words of one Japanese soldier, Iwo "was an island of sulfur, no water, no sparrow, and no swallow." Beyond that, each defender took an oath to fight to the death, to give no ground for any reason.

Following a seventy-four-day air and naval bombardment that the American high command believed had put the bulk of the Japanese defenders at least temporarily out of action, two veteran regiments of the 4th Marine Division alongside two regiments of the newly formed 5th Marine Division-eight battalion landing teams in all-led the way toward the island. Aircraft, battleships, cruisers, continued of back flap and destroyers pummeled ground targets near and far from the landing beaches. As the first wave of Marine­laden amphibian tractors climbed ashore, nearby gunboats fired hundreds of rockets to suppress enemy fire.

Then a squadron of Marine Corsairs from the USS Essex strafed the ground just behind the beaches at such low altitude that it looked to men on the water as if the planes were on the ground. Nothing happened. There was no return fire. No Japanese fired at the ships offshore, nor at the oncoming waves of amphibian tractors, nor at the Marines, who were surprised to learn as their feet touched down that all of southern lwo Jima was covered in a thick mantle of black volcanic ash that offered no purchase for their feet or their shovels.

Shortly, when the nearly eight thousand newly landed Marines had stopped along the shoreline to regroup, every Japanese gun and mortar within range opened fire on the exposed invaders. The gunfire did not die for thirty-four of the bloodiest days of the Pacific War.

The Author

Eric Hammel is a critically acclaimed military historian and author of more than thirty combat histories, including several on the U.S. Marines in World War IT. He lives in Northern California. Leatherneck Magazine praised Hammel's most recent work, Pacific Warriors, saying:-

"A powerfully written history ... Hammel has demonstrated again his genius for bringing the past to life in language that is both understandable and digestible.

He accompanies his magnificent prose with many never-before-published photographs of Marines in action during the war. The result is a history masterpiece ... A must-read for future generations of Marines."

And, from Marine Corps Gazette:

"Pacific Warriors is worthy of the legacy that it seeks to honor.

Eric Hammel's polished perspective as a military historian is both appropriate and timely. Poignantly written and illustrated.  Marines will not be disappointed with this work."