Home Intro People Events Equipment Places Maps Books Photos Videos Other Reference FAQ About

World War II Database

Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War

ISBN: 0-316-50111-5
Review Date:

Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War is a simply superb memoir of the war in the Pacific. William Manchester, whose father was a WWI Marine, uses vivid descriptors, and leaves nothing to the imagination when it comes to the horrors that he and his fellow Marines had to suffer through while waging war against the Japanese all over the Pacific. He also brings the perspective of what some of these sites looked like when he revisited them in the 70's. I found it quite disturbing as a former Marine that some of these famous battle fields such as the deadly island of Peleliu, have but a crumbling, dilapidated remnant of a monument to the countless Marines that gave their lives for, in hindsight, a frivolous effort. I found it equally disturbing that the same trend was found at other sites of great sacrifice such as Tarawa, and the Philippines. I found myself asking; how could we forget?

Manchester also does a great job of touching on his post war emotions. I loved how he incorporated dreams that he was having during his trip back to all of the battle sites. It seemed like just being back at those hallowed grounds evoked certain memories that he had suppressed, for obvious reasons. He always saw himself as a young sergeant, almost watching himself as if on the big screen, reacting to certain situations. One of these came while spending a night in a fox hole on Bloody Ridge on the island of Guadalcanal.

This time my dream is familiar. It is of the old party and the Sergeant. There is a difference, however. When the old man arrives he finds that the Sergeant has been there for some time- his boondockers have plowed the mud- and he ignores his visitors' presence. He has the half-pathetic, half-comical look of a concentration camp victim, beret of dignity. Atabrine has turned his skin yellower than a Jap's. His uniform is just hanging on his emaciated frame, and it's stained with what, at a closer look, turns out to be blood. He is in a towering rage, though clearly not at the old man; he doesn't even glance in that direction. Glaring elsewhere he shakes his fist at the darkness in pitiful fury and swears savagely. At first he appears to be angry with himself. Then the truth becomes clear. I know this problem. He is furious at Lefty Zepp, the first of the Raggedy Ass Marines to die.

Just reading this gave me goose bumps. I can appreciate Manchester's dilemma here not only as a former Marine, but as a current leader. He had suppressed the guilt of Lefty's death. And he recounted it via one of his many dreams. It is these dreams that help Manchester come to grips with what he had been thorough, some 30 years later. By the end of the book the Sergeant is gone, and only the old man is left.

This book gets you on so many different levels. It is almost hard to grasp all of them the first time around. I will definitely be picking this book up again in the near future. I am proud to be associated with men like William Manchester. Their sacrifices were so great. This book gives you a firsthand account of those sacrifices, and all of their consequences after the fact. How could we forget?

Also, check out WW2DB Managing Editor C. Peter Chen's review of Goodbye, Darkness!

Back to Main | Back to Book Reviews Index

Did you enjoy this article or find this article helpful? If so, please consider supporting us on Patreon. Even $1 per month will go a long way! Thank you.

Share this article with your friends:


Stay updated with WW2DB:

 RSS Feeds

Posting Your Comments on this Topic

Your Name
Your Email
 Your email will not be published
Comment Type
Your Comments
Security Code



1. We hope that visitor conversations at WW2DB will be constructive and thought-provoking. Please refrain from using strong language. HTML tags are not allowed. Your IP address will be tracked even if you remain anonymous. WW2DB site administrators reserve the right to moderate, censor, and/or remove any comment. All comment submissions will become the property of WW2DB.

2. For inquiries about military records for members of the World War II armed forces, please see our FAQ.

Change View
Desktop View

Search WW2DB & Partner Sites
More on Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War
Related Person:
» Manchester, William

Related Events:
» Guadalcanal Campaign

Famous WW2 Quote
"We no longer demand anything, we want war."

Joachim von Ribbentrop, German Foreign Minister, Aug 1939

Support Us

Please consider supporting us on Patreon. Even $1 a month will go a long way. Thank you!

Or, please support us by purchasing some WW2DB merchandise at TeeSpring, Thank you!