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Book Name: Strong Men Armed: The United States Marines Against Japan

Author: Robert Leckie

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Overall Rating: (4.88/5) View all reviews (total 17 reviews)

"This is a carefully researched history of the Marines from Guadalcanal to Okinawa," said LJ's reviewer of this title, which incorporates information from both American and Japanese sources. Offering the points of view of enlisted men and officers alike for a balanced look at the battles, the text is bolstered with numerous photos and maps. For public and academic military collections.Copyright 1998 Reed Business Information, Inc.


Best book about WWII in South Pacific yet

by Bob "BH"

This is the best, most comprehensive book about not only the Marine Corps but a well-written book about many of the battles and sacrifices in all of the South Pacific during WWII. It gives a raw realistic look at what really happened and should be read by anyone who wants to know what it was really like and how brutal combat with the Japs was. Take it from an old U.S. Navy veteran, its well worth the money.

The Marine's WW2 Campaign

by cpt matt

Strong Men Armed is a book where you should read the bibliographical note first. Robert Leckie, who served in the Marines on the `Rock and Peleliu, cites his three main sources, Marine battle monographs, Army histories and the books of Samuel Elliott Morison. There are some Japanese sources (not many were available back in 1962 when this was written), personal memoires, narratives, news articles of the time and each Medal of Honor Citation received by a Marine in WW2. Not included are the contributions of the Army, even when they fought along side of the Marines, because this is a book about Marines, for Marines and by a Marine.This is not a dry book stuffed with facts. Read this and you'll get the history, but with a flair for a man who participated in these history making events. He makes no bones about his perspective, nor should he. This is well written, solid history - it seems to be at its best when describing the early battles in which Leckie fought. As each campaign is told, less and less coverage is devoted to the story. Okinawa, the last amphibious assault, gets 26 pages vs. 126 pages on Guadalcanal.The maps are rudimentary, just a few photos to give you an idea of what island fighting looked like. A history that stands the test of time well, it also gives you a flashback to a time before revisionist historians, contrarians and nay-sayers got published.

Takes you there

by David N. Thielen

If you want a book that takes you down to the grunt level in the Pacific war, this is it. Most of the fighting in the Pacific was the Navy and the Marines. And the Marines were the ones that stormed ashore against withering fire and then won, inch by inch and island by island.And it does an excellent job of putting you right there. In the innumerable firefights on Guadacanal and the vicious jungle of New Brittan and the combat hell of islands like Tarawa.And when you are done you realize what incredible soldiers these men were.


by D. Blankenship

This is a must read for any student or interested person if reference to WWII and the Pacific Campaign. The author is actually rather inspirational, wonderful descriptions, excellent syntax keep you turning the pages. This work gives wonderful insight to the USMC and the entire Pacific Campaign. I highly recommend the read and very much suggest you add this one to your collection. Thank you Mr. Leckie.


by D. Harrington

I've never described a book that way before.But I am now.Probably one of the 10 best books I've ever read.Extremely highly recommended.Here's one of many things that are interesting about it:In between the narrative about the war and its many details, operations, strategy etc, the author includes numerous individual acts of extreme heroism, explaining in detail about some of the Medal of Honor recipients, e.g. Mitchell Paige and many others. These vignettes are interwoven into the big picture very skillfully. And they make fascinating reading.Be sure you want to stay up for hours at a time reading this book, before you pick it up.

The USMC, from Guadalcanal to Okinawa...

by D. S. Thurlow

"Strong Men Armed", Robert Leckie's superbly readable narrative history of the United States Marine Corps in the struggle against Japan in World War II's Pacific theater, was first published in 1962. It has since been reprinted several times, most recently in conjunction with the release of the HBO Miniseries "The Pacific".Robert Leckie, himself a veteran of the bloody combats on Guadalcanal and Peleliu, writes in the tradition of Bruce Catton and Shelby Foote for an earlier conflict. His account easily manages both the operational picture of successive campaigns on Pacific islands and vignettes illustrating the heroics of individual Marines. Leckie had access to at least some of the Japanese archives, and his account provides a rounded view of Japanese actions in each of the major battles.Leckie writes in a highly personalized style, bringing home the horror of combat. His narrative also highlights the heroic performance of the US Marine Corps as an organization, expanding to six divisions while mastering amphibious and jungle warfare, and the Japanese themselves. This edition includes a nice selection of maps and photographs. "Strong Men Armed" is highly recommended to the student of Marine Corps combat in the Pacific, as a fuller version of the story told by HBO's "The Pacific."

Very entertaining

by eism

Just finished this book this morning. Very colorful writing style. Really describes the horror of the pacific campaign. At times a real page turner, but never dull nor tedious. Based on this, I look forward to reading more of Leckie's works. However, as it was very intense, will switch back to books about ETO for a while (I read almost exclusively about WWII). Happy to recommend it to anyone with an interest in "The Greatest Generation".

Chronicles of Courage

by George R Dekle "Bob Dekle"

Three veterans of the First Marine Division have written accounts of WWII. E.B. Sledge in "With the Old Breed," William Manchester in "Goodbye Darkness," and Robert Leckie in "Strong Men Armed.""With the Old Breed" and "Goodbye Darkness" are personal reminiscences, but "Strong Men Armed" is a scholarly study. It doesn't dwell on personal experiences, but gives the vast panorama of the Navy/Marine Corps island hopping campaign, and helps to put Sledge's and Manchester's personal memoirs into the context of the whole war in the Pacific. Leckie does give his chronicle a personal touch by occasionally stopping to pay tribute to some of the matchless individual deeds heroism and sacrifice. One arresting theme is his account of each and every Medal of Honor awarded to Marines who threw themselves onto live hand grenades to save their comrades. ("Greater love hath no man than this: that he lay down his life for his friends.")Sledge's book ("With the Old Breed") is a plain spoken account of one man's view of the horrors of the war in the Pacific. Manchester's book ("Goodbye Darkness") reads something like the out-loud ruminations of a mental patient working through unresolved issues on the psychiatrist's couch. Leckie's book is an epic account of a titanic struggle.For the Big Picture of the war in the Pacific, "Strong Men Armed" can't be beaten. For a more personal look at the war, read "With the Old Breed."


by James L. Woolridge "Wooly in PSL, FL."

Robert Leckie was there and he is one of the best authors out there on the Marines. What more could you ask for? STRONG MEN ARMED is a scholarly account of Marine action in the Pacific, from Guadacanal to Okinawa through Bougainville, New Britain, Tarawa and Iwo Jima. You get it all. The book has been around for ever and is still a definitive work. RECOMMENDED.

Leckie is a Joy

by James W. Durney

Robert Leckie is one of the best writers of history and this maybe his best work. This is a clear, concise, comprehensive account of the Island War in the Pacific. Clearly written, Leckie puts his reader into the picture while teaching, producing a potent combination of entertainment and learning. You can get hooked on history reading Leckie; I did as a teenager.Robert Leckie lived many of these actions and his personal experiences makes the narration more real as the reader senses his feelings and experiences. However, this is a history not a personal account and we never get lead down the path of experience. This is the best account of the Island War ever written by a top-flight author.

Leckie's Excellent History of the Marines in the Pacific

by Jeffrey T. Munson

Robert Leckie served as a scout and machine gunner in the First Marine Division and fought at Guadalcanal and Peleliu. Leckie, along with E.B. Sledge and John Basilone are featured in HBO's mini-series "The Pacific". While Sledge's "With the Old Breed" and Leckie's "Helmet for my Pillow" are personal accounts of battle, "Strong Men Armed" is a methodical examination of all of the major battles fought by the Marines in the Pacific.Included in this excellent volume is Leckie's personal accounts of Guadalcanal, where the Americans made their first offensive amphibious landing against the Japanese, and Peleliu, where the Americans ran into a dug-in foe who inflicted massive casualties on the Marines. Leckie also discusses other battles, including the near disaster at Tarawa, the mud of New Britain, the unforgiving sands of Iwo Jima, the re-capture of Guam and the Marianas, and the final assault against Okinawa. Using first-hand research and personal experiences, Leckie brings these battles of the Pacific to life in a manner I've never read before."Strong Men Armed" reads more like a novel than a work of non-fiction, and the action of each bloody battle will surely resonate with the reader. I've always preferred reading first-hand history, and this book definitely delivers."The Pacific" has brought Sledge's and Leckie's books back into the forefront of World War II history. If readers want to know what it was really like to fight against the Japanese, then "Strong Men Armed" is the book to read. Highly recommended.


by Martin S. Barnes


The Master of American Wars

by MG "Awesive"

Robert Leckie is the best author I have ever seen detailing the wars in U.S. History. This book is another great story detailing the Marines struggle against the Empire of Japan. Because Mr. Leckie was a participant, this offering provides greater detail of the battles than most of his books. He really gives good descriptions of the people and places where the battles were fought and the courage of the Marines and Japanese as they were locked in a life or death struggle. This is an excellent book on the ground war in the Pacific.

All in one Marines in WW II

by NNY "Adirondacker"

The author often gets a little verbose and indulges in a bit of hyperbole. That being said, the book covers every Marine action in the war, in as much detail as the volume allows. The reader will be affected by the details of suffering and the horrors of combat. Once one gets started, it is difficult to stop reading before reaching the end. I think I have read no better book on this subject.


by nto62

To my knowledge, no other comprehensive presentation of the Pacific theater brings home the chilling reality of the US Marine Corps island campaign as Strong Men Armed by Robert Leckie. It's all here: the frenzied horror of amphibious assault under massed fire, the slogging through sodden, malarial jungles, the hand-to-hand slugfest required to rid each island of an entrenched and implacable foe, and the truly uncommon selflessness that led to a multitude of Medal of Honor recipients.Gaudalcanal, Bougainville, New Britain, Tarawa, Iwo Jima, Okinawa and other Pacific assaults are presented in detail from the perspective of enlisted and commissioned marines. Both infantry and air wing receive their due as Leckie is equally skilled at describing the Marine Corps aerial domination of the Japanese fighter and bomber.I've read my fair share of WWII history and it is in awe and suspense that I ripped through this gritty, sometimes ghastly, yet ultimately inspirational book. Leckie's Strong Men Armed is a military masterpiece. I cannot offer a stronger recommendation. 5+ stars.

The classic narrative story of the US Marine Corps in WWII

by Peter J.

Please Note - When this review was originally written Amazon did not link the various editions of this book, and two reviews appeared separately. However, they have now been linked together and both appear here.Strong Men Armed in the classic narrative story of the US Marine Corps in WWII, written by a man who fought on the front lines and went on to become one of the premiere writers of USA military history. By narrative I mean that it concentrates on the stories of fighting men instead of the dryer political and overall strategic and tactical aspects of the fighting. Leckie writes with great passion and verve, creating a book that ranks with the best narrative military histories. Reading this book gives a clear picture of the great determination and heroism exhibited by the US Marine Corps and the tenacious, but fatalistic Japanese opposition. I think that it provides a balanced picture of Marines who did not necessarily immediately achieve victory through a heroic charge, but in many cases were driven back by determined Japanese resistance, but in the end exhibited the fortitude to attack again and again until they prevailed. Japanese tactics are discussed and how they evolved from the idea that a banzai charge could win the day, to a more realistic, and deadly, defensive strategy. While an exciting narrative, the book also cleared up many historical points for me. For instance, many books state that the Japanese deliberately allowed an unopposed landing on Okinawa, but Leckie shows that this is only partly true. The Japanese plan was to only fortify the Southern part of the island as the terrain there was much more suitable for defense. The US landings were on the largely undefended center part of the island, but had the landings been in the south they would have been strongly opposed. I also learned that there were 10,000 Japanese prisoners taken on Okinawa.This book is not a complete history of the Pacific fighting in WWII, as it only covers the actions of the Marine Corps. Campaigns such as those in New Guinea and the Philippines that were led by General MacArthur are not covered at all, and in those engagements where the US Army fought alongside the US Marine Corps (such as in Okinawa) the US Army aspects of the fighting are only mentioned. The naval aspects of WWII are only covered to the extent that they impacted on the ground fighting. This book discusses Marine Corps Aviation as well as the ground fighting, but the emphasis is on the latter. The book discusses the less well known fighting at Bougainville, Western New Britain (Cape Gloucester and Borgen Bay), Kwajalein and Eniwetok; as well as all of the more well known major engagements (Guadalcanal, Tarawa, Saipan, Guam, Peleliu, Iwo Jima and Okinawa). The actions of all of the Marine Corps Medal of Honor winners that led to their receiving this highest US decoration for heroism are mentioned and there is an appendix that lists all of them. There are also appendices that provide a chronology of the war (primarily the events associated with the Marine Corps, but with some attention to other events and a list of all of the Marine Corps flying aces along with the number of planes that they shot down. Fourteen maps are included, covering the Pacific and the islands discussed in the text, but while these cover the major features they are not battle maps showing the evolution of any of the fighting that is discussed.I have had a hardbound copy of this book for more than twenty years and read it so long ago that I had forgotten it. Seeing a paperback copy reminded me of it and caused me to read it again, and I am very glad that I did. I have compared both the hardback and paperback versions and as near as I can tell the text is identical, but the photographs are reproduced with greater resolution in the hardback version.I recommend this book to anyone who wants to understand the fighting in the Pacific in WWII.

The story of the Marines in the Pacific, written by one of their own

by William S. Grass "Military history enthusiast"

In Strong Men Armed, author Robert Leckie provides us with a narrative of the Marine Corps action throughout all their major campaigns of the Pacific War. Leckie was a journalist and author from Philadelphia who wrote many works of military history, the best known being the memoir of his own time serving as a Marine infantryman in WW2 entitled, "Helmet for My Pillow."Strong Men Armed is not a scholarly work. It can best be described as a narrative, instead of a history. The author reveals in a bibliographical essay at the end of the book that his intention was that the book be "...written in a narrative style which might have been defeated by the use of footnotes..." The book is a tribute from Leckie to his fellow Marines and the unique type of fighting they performed in the Pacific. He showcases their hardships and devotion to duty and to each other. Time is taken during the narrative to recognize all Marine Medal of Honor winners, many of whom gave their lives smothering grenades to save their comrades.There is good background information presented showing how the Marine Corps expanded from two to six divisions after the war started, and when and where all of these six divisions and their regiments trained and staged before battle, went into battle, and licked their wounds after battle. The heart of the story, however, is the Marine infantryman in combat. The story begins with Guadalcanal, and the travails the Marines have there of being assaulted via land, water and air by an enemy fully capable of bringing ashore reinforcements while contesting control of the sea and sky near that disputed island. As the war progresses, and the Marines move on to objectives ever nearer the heart of the Japanese empire, we see a fully industrialized, increasingly powerful United States war machine that can completely isolate Japanese island garrisons, denying them any hope of reinforcements or resupply. No matter how overwhelmingly the U.S. controls the sea around and the air above these battlefields, however, it still remains for Marine infantrymen to close with their well entrenched, concealed and determined enemy, to root him out and kill him.Even as a long time reader of the Pacific War, I found a few bits of information in Strong Men Armed that I had not yet come across. I hadn't known, for example, that a son of FDR advisor Harry Hopkins was killed on Namur in the Marshalls. Nor had I known the name of the captain that raised the Confederate flag at Shuri on Okinawa, or heard the story of the Japanese pilot who got a surprise welcome at Yontan airfield on that same island. Fans of Eugene Sledge will recognize the name of the skipper of K/3/5, who Leckie mentions in his account of Cape Gloucester.Whether a reader is a seasoned Pacific War enthusiast, or has only a general interest in the topic, there is much to appreciate in Strong Men Armed. It is written by a proven man of letters, proud of his own time as a Marine, and proud of the Corps he served.

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