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Robert Leckie (1920-2001) was the author of more than 30 works of military history as well as Marines!, a collection of short stories, and Lord, What a Family!, a memoir. Raised in Rutherford, New Jersey, he started writing professionally at age 16, covering sports for the Bergen Evening Record of Hackensack, New Jersey. Leckie enlisted in the United States Marine Corps on the day following the attack on Pearl Harbor, going on to serve as a machine gunner and as an intelligence scout and participating in all 1st Marine Division campaigns except Okinawa. He was awarded five battle stars, the Naval Commendation Medal with Combat V, and the Purple Heart. Helmet for My Pillow was his first book; it received the USMC Combat Correspondents Association Award upon publication.
On this 50th anniversary of the battle of Okinawa (April to June 1945), we can expect an avalanche of titles about this last major battle of World War II. Okinawa was an epic amphibious-air-sea-land battle the likes of which may never be seen again. The conflict raged for 83 days; 13,000 Americans and 100,000 Japanese perished. Kamikazes sank 34 and damaged 361 U.S. vessels. Both Astor and Leckie are experienced military historians who tell their stories in the words of participants. Astor interviewed numerous veterans and compiled a masterful account of the battle as seen through the eyes of both American and Japanese survivors. He explores the history, training, and morale of the army and marine divisions and demonstrates why each was bound to succeed or fail. On the other hand, Leckie has written a "Monarch Notes" version of the battle that tells us nothing new. For the best history of the Okinawa campaign, readers should consider James and William Belote's Typhoon of Steel: The Battle for Okinawa (1970).‘Stanley Itkin, Hillside P.L., New Hyde Park, N.Y.
Larger in both number of troops and tonnage than the Normandy landing, the battle for Okinawa, April 1-June 21, 1945, was the last great campaign of WWII. Leckie here recreates the events, from the planning by American fleet admirals in a suite at San Francisco's St. Francis Hotel to the ritual suicide of Lt. Gen. Mitsuri Ushijima on a cliff overlooking the Pacific the day the Americans declared victory. Much of the succinct, fast-paced narrative deals with how the Army and Marine divisions cooperated as they applied the ``corkscrew and blowtorch'' methods necessary to dislodge the tenacious defenders of an island only 375 miles from their Japanese homeland. In a thought-provoking final section, Leckie discusses the still simmering questions of whether the dropping of the atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki compelled the Japanese to surrender, whether they would soon have surrendered anyway and whether the Okinawa campaign was in fact unnecessary. Leckie, a prolific author of popular military books, writes stirring prose; his fans will not be disappointed by this one. BOMC selection. (May)
"Leckie's smooth narrative deals with all aspects of the Okinawa battle...and his style adds some nice touches, including autobiographical flashes that go back as far as Guadalcanal."--Washington Post Book World