Brotherhood of Heroes: The Marines at Peleliu, 1944
By Bill Sloan, Narrated by Patrick Lawlor
Audiobook, 11 hours and 48 minutes
Published by Tantor Audio
Peleliu is a small island in the Palau Archipelago in the Pacific. In WWII it was home to a Japanese garrison and a small airfield. On 15SEP44 it was invaded by the first Marine Division in order to prevent the Japanese from using it as a base which might interfere with the planned invasion of the Philippines the next month.
The Battle of Peleliu remains controversial to this day because of the high casualty rate among the Marines and the negligible strategic value of the island. The Japanese had shifted their strategy of contesting the beachhead and now were to concentrate on defense in depth from fortified positions. Also gone were the massed Banzai charges which had proven to be ineffective and wasteful of manpower. The American commander, Major General William H. Rupertus, anticipated a three-day operation. The island would not finally be secured for more than two months. Rupertus would be criticized for insisting that Peleliu be a “Marine operation” and resisting calling in the Army’s 81st Infantry Division, which was held in reserve.
This book draws on official histories for the overall operational picture, and published accounts for the anecdotes of Marines to give personal perspectives. In particular, “With the Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa” by Eugene Sledge and “Battleground Pacific: A Marine Rifleman’s Combat Odyssey in K/3/5” by Sterling Mace are quoted heavily. Both were members of the same company. Sledge’s book is also one of three primary sources for the HBO miniseries “The Pacific”, so many readers will be familiar with much of this material. With the reliance on these few sources, one gets the impression that K/3/5 was the only company which fought on Peleliu.
This is not a bad account of the fight for Peleliu. However, it is heavily reliant on the works of Sledge and Mace, which are well-known and have themselves been previously incorporated into several other retellings already. I didn’t see anything new here. If you want to read just one book on Peleliu, pick up Sledge’s “With the Old Breed” and read his perspectives directly in his own words.