The story of one of the bloodiest battles in history, resulting in the raising of the American flag on Mt. Suribachi, is documented with a personal touch; the author himself was a member of that company. It is a searing and unique account of that battle, told from the perspective of both the gallant U.S. Marines who invaded the island and the brave Japanese soldiers who defended it.
Wheeler, author of brief wrap-ups of Sherman's March and The Siege of Vicksburg, here turns to Iwo Jima - with the difference that he has his own eyewitness chronicle, The Bloody Battle for Suribachi (1965), to draw upon (unacknowledged). In this slow-starting narrative, Wheeler reminds us of the uncommon sacrifice and courage that marked the Iwo Jima operation. He details the factors in building Marine esprit de corps, then explains the defenders' fanatical resistance. The bulk of the Japanese troops survived the heavy naval and air bombardment preceding the amphibious assault, then let our troops push two to three hundred yards inland before opening fire from numberless tunnels, caverns, and pillboxes. For five weeks the Marines attacked the ingenious network of fortifications, at a cost of 6,821 American lives; only 1,000 of the Japanese defenders let themselves be taken prisoner. This chronicle of the Iwo Jima campaign is less one-sided than most earlier accounts, but still fails to reflect the Japanese experience. Indeed, Wheeler's new book will impress only those unfamiliar with Iwo literature and in particular with Richard F. Newcomb's Iwo Jima (1965) which still ranks as the best piece of writing on the subject. (Kirkus Reviews)