Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Review Date: 31 Oct 2011
In 2001, Stephen Ambrose's Band of Brothers was turned into a successful television miniseries. In 2010, HBO released the sister-series, "The Pacific". Hugh Ambrose, son of Stephen Ambrose, served as a consultant to the latter miniseries, and, in opposite order, he authored the book companion to the television show. The opposite order seemed to have a negative effect on the book, unfortunately.
The Pacific was the history of the Pacific War as told through the collective memoirs of several veterans, including famous figures such as John Basilone and Eugene Sledge. While the book did a book job in engaging the readers with the personal stories, it seriously flawed in terms of actual history, as inaccuracies were somewhat frequent. If I was to forgive the factual errors, I could not do the same with his many assumptions; his claim that the US Marines were virtually unknown prior to WW2 had no basis, while his claim that the Japanese could not pronounce the letter "R" properly was simply ignorant. Espiritu Santo"s"? "Congressional" Medal of Honor? There were simply too many errors for this particular history enthusiast.
I had reviewed this book in its audio book format. Mike Chamberlain did a fine job narrating in terms of clarity and reading speed, but his pronunciation of foreign names left much to be desired. I would imagine that before embarking on such a high-profile project, the production company would pay a couple of consultant hours to make sure Chamberlain could pronounce the names of places right, but this was obviously not done, resulting in the laughable "Shishi Jima" and "Piping".
While I would certainly recommend the television miniseries to everyone, I would not do the same for the book The Pacific. Instead, check out Eugene Sledge's With the Old Breed and Robert Leckie's Helmet for My Pillow; they were among the main sources for Ambrose's work, and they were far superior in terms of content and writing style.
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Fleet Admiral Chester W. Nimitz, 16 Mar 1945