Crucible of Hell by Saul David

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline: Kind of puts The Karate Kid in a whole new light.

Quick synopsis: Story of the battle of Okinawa in World War II.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like: The movie Hacksaw Ridge is based on an actual action during the Battle of Okinawa.

Fun Fact for History Nerds: I mean, not “fun,” but Lieutenant General Buckner, who was killed during the battle, was the highest-ranking U.S. officer to die in World War II in combat.

My Take: This book is about the Battle of Okinawa, but it could also be a book about why we dropped the atomic bombs on mainland Japan afterwards.

The Pacific Theater of World War II is very often overlooked when history is taught or dramatized. I get it, it’s much better talking about killing Nazis. However, this view of thinking greatly underestimates the fanaticism of the Japanese Imperial Army. No one was safe, including their own soldiers and civilians.

Okinawa was not just a land battle. There were significant smaller battles at sea and in the air as Japan was preparing for the final phase of the war. Kamikaze and other suicide attacks became the norm. Saul David hammers home the desperation of the Japanese Army but also how the entire country of Japan was conditioned to think dying to protect Japan was not just preferred but required.

I appreciate David’s very clear thoughts on the dropping of the atomic bombs on Japan at the end. I don’t like opinion in my history books unless the facts are there to support it.

Verdict: A great book that truly captures the horror of the battle and also makes a few strong points along the way.

If You Liked This Try:

  • Mark Obmascik, The Storm on Our Shores
  • Stephen Ambrose, D-Day
  • Wendy Lower, Hitler’s Furies
  • Lynne Olson, Last Hope Island
  • Michael Korda, With Wings Like Eagles
  • James M. Scott, Rampage
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Crucible of Hell by Saul David
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