Guadalcanal: Starvation Island

 Eric Hammel

 The Japanese defeats at Midway and Guadalcanal decided the outcome of the Pacific War. Guadalcanal was the classic three-dimensional campaign. On land, at sea, and in the air, fierce battles were fought with both sides stretching their supplies and equipment to the breaking point. The campaign lasted six months, involved nearly one million men, and stopped Japanese expansion in the Pacific.

 When the campaign began on August 7, 1942, no one on either side quite knew how to conduct it, as Eric Hammel shows in this masterly account. Guadalcanal: Starvation hand corrects numerous errors and omissions in the official records that have been perpetuated in all the books previously published about the campaign. Hammel also draws on the recollections of more than 100 participants on both sides, especially the enlisted men at the sharp end. Their words bring us into the heart of the battle and portray the fighting accurately, realistically, andvery powerfully.

Guadalcanal: Starvation Island follows the men and the commanders of this decisive World War II campaign in an integrated, brilliantly told narrative of the desperate struggle at sea, on land, and in the air.

***

Praise for Guadalcanal: Starvation Island and Eric Hammel

“A comprehensive history of the Guadalcanal Campaign . . . [and] a well‑balanced account. Well written and fast moving.”  —Marine Corps Gazette

“Hammel has written the most comprehensive popular ac­count to date . . . and exposes controversial aspects often passed over,”  —Publishers Weekly

“Hammel takes the reader behind the scenes and details how decisions were made . . . and how they impacted on the troops carrying them out. He tells the story in a very human way.”  —Leatherneck Magazine

“A splendid record of this decisive campaign. Hammel offers a wealth of fresh material drawn from archival records and the recollections of 100‑odd surviving participants. . . . A praise­worthy contribution to Guadalcanal lore.”  —Kirkus Reviews

“Hammel’s ability to reveal both the immediacy and the hu­manity of war without judgment or bias makes all his books both readable and scholarly.  —San Francisco Chronicle

“Hammel does not write dry history. His battle sequences are masterfully portrayed.  —Library Journal

GUADALCANAL 

DECISION AT SEA

The Naval Battle of Guadalcanal

November 13–15,1942

ERIC HAMMEL

Guadalcanal: Decision at Sea is a full-blown examination in vivid detail of the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, November 13–15, 1942, a crucial step toward America’s victory over the Japanese during World War II.

The three‑day air and naval action incorporated America’s most decisive surface battle of the war and the only naval battle of this century in which Ameri­can battleships directly confronted and mor­tally wounded an enemy battleship. This American victory decided the future course of the naval war in the Pacific, indeed of the entire Pacific War. Eric Hammel has brilliantly blended the detailed historical records with personal accounts of many of the officers and enlisted men involved, creating an engrossing nar­rative of the strategy and struggle as seen by both sides. He has also included major new insights into crucial details of the battles, including a riveting account of the American forces’ failure to effectively use their radar advantage.

Originally published in 1988 as the concluding volume in Eric Hammel’s series of three independent books focusing on the Guadalcanal campaign and exploring all the elements that made it a turning point of the war in the Pacific, Guadalcanal: Decision at Sea lives up to the high standards and expectations that have marked this author’s many historical books and articles.

Praise for Guadalcanal: Decision at Sea and Eric Hammel

“Hammel’s description of surface tactics, naval gunnery, and what happens when the order to abandon ship is given is vivid and memorable.” —Publishers Weekly

“[Hammel’s] detailed and fast-paced chronicle includes a number of incidents and anecdotes not found in the more prosaic official histories.” —Sea Power

AMBUSH VALLEY

I Corps, Vietnam, 1967—the Story of a Marine Infantry Battalion's Battle for Survival

 Eric Hammel

 In the summer of 1967, the Marines in I Corps, South Vietnam’s northernmost military region, were doing eveything they could to lighten the pressure on the besieged Con Thien Combat Base.

Still fresh after months of relatively light action around Khe Sanh, the 3d Battalion, 26th Marines, was sent to the Con Thien region to secure the combat bases’s endangered main supply route. On September 7, 1967, its first full day in the new area of operations, separate elements of the battalion were attacked by at least two battalions of North Vietnamese infantry, and both were nearly overrun in night-long battles.

On September 10, while advancing to a new sector near Con Thien, the 3d Battalion, 26th Marines, was attacked by at least a full North Vietnamese regiment, the same NVA unit that had attacked it two days earlier. Isolated into two separate defensive perimeters, the Marines battled through the afternoon and evening against repeated assaults by waves of NVA regulars intent upon achieving a major victory. In a battle described as “Custer’s Last Stand—With Air Support,” the Americans prevailed by the narrowest of margins.

Ambush Valley is an unforgettable account of bravery and survival under impossible conditions. It is told entirely in the words of the men who faced the ordeal together—an unprecedented mosaic of action and emotion woven into an incredibly clear and vivid combat narrative by one of today’s most effective military historians.  Ambush Valley achieves a new standard for oral history. It a war story not to be missed.

FIRE IN THE STREETS

The Battle for Hue, Tet 1968

Eric Hammel

The Tet Offensive of January 1968 was the most important military campaign of the Vietnam War. The ancient capital city of Hue, once considered the jewel of Indochina’s cities, was a key objective of that surprise Communist offensive launched on Vietnam’s most important holiday.  But when the North Vietnamese launched their massive invasion of the city, instead of the general civilian uprising and easy victory they had hoped for, they were faced with a U.S.[en]South Vietnamese counterattack and a devastating battle of attrition with enormous casualties on both sides. In the end, the battle for Hue was an unambiguous military and political victory for South Vietnam and the United States.

In Fire in the Streets, the dramatic narrative of the battle unfolds on an hour-by-hour, day-by-day basis. The focus is on the U.S. and South Vietnamese soldiers and Marines--from the top commanders down to the frontline infantrymen–and on the men and women who supported them. Eric Hammel, a renowned military historian, expertly draws on first-hand accounts from the battle participants in this engrossing mixture of action and commentary.

In addition, Hammel examines the tremendous strain the surprise attack put on the South Vietnamese[en]U.S. alliance, the shocking brutality of the Communist “liberators,” and the lessons gained by U.S. Marines forced to wage battle in a city–a task for which they were utterly unprepared and which has a special relevance today.

With access to rare documents from both North and South Vietnam and hundreds of hours of interviews, Hammel, in a highly readable style, has produced the only complete and authoritative account of this crucial landmark battle.
The first Saturday in October 1973: A traditional Jewish Sabbath in Israel. It is also Yom Kippur, and the Israeli Defense Force is preparing to observe the holiest of the Jewish holy days.

 Meanwhile the Syrian army, the greatest achievement of the modern Syrian state, is massed on the Golan Heights. Together with newly arrived Soviet‑made equipment, 1,200 main battle tanks, 1,000 armored personnel carriers, 1,000 artillery pieces, and more than 100 mobile antiaircraft missile carriers are ready to strike in a lightning‑swift offensive that will drive to the sea and cut Israel in two.

 Duel for the Golan, the first book to be written on this aspect of the Yom Kippur War, is based on interviews with the participants from both sides of the fighting. As such it remain a compelling and powerful account of one of the greatest tank battles fought since World War II. It also provides the first in-depth analysis of exactly how and why an inferior number of Israeli defenders was capable of inflicting one of the greatest defeats in modern military history upon awe‑inspiring Arab armored forces.

 Here are the intimate details of tank-against‑tank fighting, whether it be during retreats, in ambushes, or on the attack. Here are the stories of incredible courage and individual initiative as the Israeli defenders strive to contain the unexpected Syrian assault. During the 100‑hour battle that saved Israel, every Israeli tank that was committed to the Golan fighting was hit by hostile fire at least once, and some commanders had five or six tanks shot out from under them.

 By the end of the war only a few days later, Israeli forces had counterattacked and advanced to where their artillery could hit the Damascus International Airport and other strategic targets with pinpoint accuracy. The Syrian army was virtually destroyed in the field, as were contingents from other Arab states such as Iraq and Jordan. How these remarkable turns of battle occurred is deftly laid out. This revealing account of a battle that changed the history of the Middle East is especially relevant today as tensions in the region increase once again.

CARRIER STRIKE

The Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, October 1942

By Eric Hammel

The Battle of the Santa Cruz Islands, a strategic naval action in the bitter Guadalcanal Campaign, was history’s fourth carrier-versus-carrier naval battle. Though technically a Japanese victory, the battle proved to be the Empire of Japan’s last serious attempt to win the Pacific War by means of an all-out carrier confrontation. Only one other carrier battle occurred in the Pacific War, in June 1944, in the Philippine Sea. By then, however, the U.S. Navy’s Fast Carrier Task Force was operational, and Japan’s dwindling fleet of carriers was outnumbered and completely outclassed. Though hundreds of Japanese naval aviators perished in the great Marianas Turkey Shoot of June 19–20, 1944, it was during the first four carrier battles—in the six-month period from early May through late October 1942—that the fate of Japan’s small, elite naval air arm was sealed. It was at Coral Sea, in May, that Japan’s juggernaut across the Pacific was blunted. It was at Midway, in June, that Japan’s great carrier fleet was cut down to manageable size. And it was at Eastern Solomons, in August,  and Santa Cruz, in October, that Japan’s last best carrier air groups were ground to dust. After their technical victory at Santa Cruz, the Japanese withdrew their carriers from the South Pacific—and were never able to use them again as a strategically decisive weapon. Of the four Japanese aircraft carriers that participated in the Santa Cruz battle, only one survived the war.

Following Santa Cruz and the subsequent series of air and surface engagements known as the Naval Battle of Guadalcanal, the Imperial Navy’s Combined Fleet never again attempted a meaningful strategic showdown with the U.S. Pacific Fleet. Though several subsequent surface actions in the Solomons were clearly Japanese victories, their results were short-lived. After November 1942, Japan could not again muster the staying power—or the willpower—to wage a strategic war with her navy. Once the veteran carrier air groups had been shredded at Eastern Solomons and Santa Cruz, Japanese carriers ceased to be a strategic weapon.

The Santa Cruz clash was deemed a Japanese victory because U.S. naval forces withdrew from the battlefield. That is how victory and defeat are strictly determined. But on the broader, strategic, level, the U.S. Navy won at Santa Cruz—because it was able to achieve its strategic goal of holding the line and buying time. Japan was unable to achieve her strategic goal of defeating the U.S. Pacific Fleet in a final, decisive, all-or-nothing battle. The technical victory cost Japan any serious hope she had of winning the Pacific naval war.

The “victory” at Santa Cruz cost Japan her last best hope to win the war in the Pacific.

Once again, author-historian Eric Hammel brings to the reading public an exciting narrative filled with the latest information and written in the edge-of-the-seat style that his readers have enjoyed for nearly two decades, in nearly thirty acclaimed military history books. As was the case with its companion volume, Carrier Clash, this new book is based upon American and Japanese battle reports and the recollections of many airmen and seamen who took part.

CARRIER CLASH

The Invasion of Guadalcanal & the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, August 1942

Eric Hammel

The Battle of the Eastern Solomons was history’s third carrier clash. A collision of U.S. Navy and Imperial Navy carriers in the wake of the invasion of Guadalcanal—whose  airfield the United States desperately needed and the Japanese desperately wanted back—the battle was waged at sea and over Guadalcanal’s besieged Marine-held Lunga Perimeter on August 24, 1942.

Based upon the first half of Eric Hammel’s acclaimed 1987 battle narrative,  Guadalcanal: The Carrier Battles, and in large part upon important new information obtained from both Japanese and American sources, Carrier Clash unravels many of the mysteries and misconceptions that have veiled this complex battle for more than a half century.

Beginning with detailed descriptions of the history of the aircraft carrier, the development of carrier-air tactics, the training of carrier pilots, and numerous operational considerations that defined the way carrier battles had to be fought, Carrier Clash takes the reader into the air with brave U.S. Navy fighter pilots as they protect their ships and the Guadalcanal invasion fleet against determined Japanese air attacks on August 7 and 8, 1942. After he sets the stage for the August 24 Battle of the Eastern Solomons, author Hammel puts the reader right into the cockpits of U.S. Navy Dauntless dive-bombers as they dive on the Imperial Navy light carrier Ryujo—and hit the ship with 500-pound bombs! Once again, in this strange tit-for-tat battle, U.S. Navy Wildcat fighter pilots must defend their ships against an onslaught by Imperial Navy Val dive-bomber pilots determined to sink the U.S. carriers, or die trying. Hammel’s coverage of the bomb damage to the USS Enterprise and subsequent fire-fighting and rescue efforts by her crew are especially compelling.

Carrier Clash is the definitive combat history of the Battle of the Eastern Solomons, history’s third battle (of only five) between American and Japanese aircraft carriers.

Critical Acclaim for Eric Hammel’s earlier books about the Guadalcanal Campaign:

Seapower Magazine says: “Acclaimed military historian Eric Hammel presents a landmark history of the Battle of the Eastern Solomons.” 

Kirkus Reviews says: “Hammel is as adept at conveying the terrors of fighting fire on a ship . . . as he is at providing concise evaluations of top commanders. “Official histories apart, [Guadalcanal: The Carrier Battles is] the most thorough appreciation yet of Guadalcanal’s turning-point carrier battles; praiseworthy.”

 Lansing State Journal says: “For the military buff, [Guadalcanal: Starvation Island] is an excellent resource. For the casual reader, it is a well-written account of one of the most crucial times in the history of the United States.”

 ALA Booklist says: [Eric Hammel] “effectively utilizes the accounts of the battle participants to provide a vivid dimension to the fighting . . . ”

 Library Journal says: “Hammel does not write dry history. His battle sequences are masterfully portrayed.”

 Canadian Military History says: Hammel’s descriptions of engagements on land, air and sea are fast-paced and engagingly written, and he has a knack for weaving together character and circumstance into a very readable story.”

 Book World says: [Guadalcanal: Starvation Island] is stark, naked, and brutal. . . . It is an excellent, toughly drawn account of the awesomeness of war and is worthy many times over of being in any library worthy of the name.”

 

AIR WAR PACIFIC: Chronology

America’s Air War Against Japan in East Asia and the Pacific

1941 – 1945

Eric Hammel

THE GREAT AMERICAN AERIAL CRUSADE OF WORLD WAR II: There was never a military campaign like it, and there never will be another. Here is an opportunity to follow the great crusade as it unfolded in the air over the Japan’s ill-gotten empire in East Asia and the Pacific. This exhaustive chronology sheds a fascinating light on the course of America’s air war against Japan in all the active theaters.

* The Air War Pacific Chronology is a day-by-day accounting of all the major combat aviation missions undertaken by United States Army Air Forces, United States Navy, United States Marine Corps, and American Volunteer Group units and commands in China, Burma, India, and throughout the Pacific during World War II.

* All Army Air Forces, Navy, Marine, and Flying Tiger theater fighter aces are covered including unit affiliation, date and time ace status was attained, and date and time of highest victory tally (over ten).

* Information pertaining to the arrival, activation, transfer, departure, and decommissioning of air commands, combat units, and special units. Comings and goings of the commanders of major aviation units are also covered.

* Provides a rich contextual framework pertaining to related ground campaigns; international and high-command conferences and decisions influencing air strategies and campaigns; and breakthroughs in the development of special techniques and equipment.

* Includes a bibliography, guide to abbreviations, maps, and two indexes.

ACES AT WAR

The American Aces Speak

Eric Hammel

Adding to the first three volumes of his acclaimed series, The American Aces Speak, leading combat historian Eric Hammel comes through with yet another engrossing collection of thirty-eight first-person accounts by American fighter aces serving in World War II, the Israeli War of Independence, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War

As are the three earlier volumes, Aces At War is a highly charged excursion into life and death in the air, told by men who excelled at piston-engine and jet-engine aerial combat and lived to tell about it. It is an emotional rendering of what brave airmen felt and how they fought in the now-dim days of America’s living national history.

Ride with Flying Tigers ace Charlie Bond as he is shot down in flames over the Chinese city he alone has been able to defend against Japanese bombers. Share the loneliness of command as Lieutenant Commander Tom Blackburn decides the fate of the fellow Navy pilot whose F4U Corsair  malfunctions in a desperate battle over Rabaul. Feel 2d Lieutenant Deacon Priest’s overwhelming sense of duty to a friend as he lands his P-51 Mustang behind German lines to rescue his downed squadron commander. Share Lieutenant Colonel Ed Heller’s desperation as he fights his way out of his uncontrollable F-86 Sabre jet over the wrong side of the Yalu River. And join Major Jim Kasler as he leads what might be the most important air strike of the Vietnam War.

These are America’s eagles, and the stories they tell are their own, in their very own words.

76 Hours

The Invasion of Tarawa

Eric Hammel and John E. Lane

On the morning of Saturday, November 20, 1943, the U.S. 2d Marine Division undertook the first modern amphibious assault against a well-defended beachhead. The objective was tiny Betio Island in Tarawa Atoll. The result was an immortal story of tragedy and near defeat turned around into an epic of victory and indomitable human spirit.

Although the admirals commanding the Tarawa invasion fleet had assured the Marines that Betio would be pounded to coral dust by a massive naval and air bombardment—the largest of its kind ever seen to that time—the first waves of Marines found the Japanese defenses intact and manned by determined foes. Within minutes of the start of the head-on assault, the American battle plan was a shambles and scores of Marines had been killed or wounded. The assault virtually stopped at the water’s edge, its momentum halted before many Marines ever dismounted from the amphibian tractors that had carried them to the deadly, fire-swept beach. Follow-up waves of Marines suffered grievous casualties when they were forced to wade more than 500 yards through fire-swept, knee-deep water because tidal conditions had been miscalculated by the invasion's planners. 

Follow the bloody battle for Betio in graphic detail as heroic American fighting men advance every life-threatening step across the tiny island in the face of what many historians agree was the best and most concentrated defenses manned by the bravest and most competent Japanese defenders American troops encountered in the entire Pacific War.

CORAL AND BLOOD

The U.S. Marine Corps’ Pacific Campaign

Eric Hammel

 In only a lifetime, the long United States Marine Corps campaign across the Pacific Island has become the stuff of enduring legend. We are down to just a few Pacific Warriors who lived it and can still tell us about it from their own experiences. Now, in Coral and Blood, the critically acclaimed military historian Eric Hammel, who has specialized in writing about Marines in the Pacific, has compiled a brief but comprehensive history of the Marines’ island war. This book was conceived as a starting point for readers who have not yet read much about the Pacific War, but it is also designed to provide a simple yet complete overview for seasoned Pacific War enthusiasts who have not yet examined the island campaigns as an integrated whole. Perhaps by finding out about battles not yet examined, an experienced Pacific War enthusiast will find inspiration for moving on to new battles and looking for even broader understanding.

 Following the general outline of his highly rated single-volume pictorial, Pacific Warriors, Hammel begins with the development of the U.S. Marine Corps’ unique amphibious doctrine, then moves briskly into the Pacific War by enumerating the Marine Corps presence on the eve of war. Thereafter, every significant action involving U.S. Marines during World War II—from Pearl Harbor and Wake Island to Okinawa—is examined, including the role of Marine Air in the Philippines. In many cases, longer and broader discussions are presented in this volume than in Pacific Warriors.

 Experienced military history reader or not, you will almost certainly find something new and interesting in Coral and Blood. At the very least, you will find Coral and Blood, which weighs in at a respectable 96,000 words, to be valuable but not overbearing as a one-volume overview of the legendary efforts of Marines in the Pacific War.

THE ROAD TO BIG WEEK

The Struggle for Daylight Air Supremacy Over Western Europe, July 1942 – February 1944

Eric Hammel

The Road to Big Week begins with a thorough examination of American development of a strategic bombing doctrine from its earliest conception in the years after World War I. Balancing the demands of the ground army’s desire and need for air support and the visionary outlook of such early Air Corps leaders as General Billy Mitchell with the cash-strapped circumstances of  the Great Depression and the limitations imposed by the Congressional peace lobbies, the Air Corps was able to deliver a fully formed doctrine that could not at first be supported by adequate aircraft nor even a public acknowledgenent that the drive to perfect strategic bombing was even on. Before the doctrine or a fully functional heavy strategic bomber were quite perfected, the United States was drawn into World War II. Facing numerous obstacles unperceived during peacetime, not the least being simple bad weather, the early American efforts to mount a strategic bombing campaign in northern Europe nearly failed in the face of unsustainable casualties and ineffective strategic direction. Only the belated modernization of escort-fighter policy saved the strategic bombing force from failure and, indeed, formed the foundation upon which the strategic bombing campaign ultimately reached maturity and achieved success.

In this exciting and complete accounting of the transition from idea to near failure to ultimate success, distinguished military historian Eric Hammel sets out all the dots, then connects them in a conversational style approachable by all readers.

What the Experts Are Saying About THE ROAD TO BIG WEEK . . .

Eric Hammel convincingly demonstrates that the road to "Big Week" in February 1944 occupied more than twenty years. With a passion for objectivity and an eye for telling detail, he describes the U.S. Army Air Forces' evolution of the self-defending bomber as well as Nazi Germany's efforts to preserve and patch "the roof" over the Third Reich. Though the European war lasted another fifteen months, Hammel shows that by the end of Big Week there was no reversing the traffic on that sanguinary path. ——Barrett Tillman, author of Clash of the Carriers

Eric Hammel has done it again, with a lucid portrayal of the growth of American bomber theory from the 1918 Armistice to the crucial days over Germany when the Eighth Air Force broke the Luftwaffe’s back. Some books have told what happened during Big Week—Hammel tells you why, driving home points that are as vital today as they were in 1944. ——Col. Walter J. Boyne, National Aviation Hall of Fame Honoree

In The Road to Big Week, Eric Hammel cleverly connects a widely disparate collection of dots that are the development of America as the world's preeminent air power. These connections describe how the U.S. Army Air Forces—just barely in time—evolved in size and capability such that America's airmen prevailed in the iconic air battle that ultimately ensured the defeat of Nazi Germany. Hammel's meticulous research and eminently readable style make this definitive work a compelling read. ——Lt.Col. Jay A. Stout, author of Fortress Ploesti

Eric Hammel has a special gift for combining musty war records and intimate personal accounts into a gripping history . . . If you think there's nothing new to learn about World War II, if you think there was never a possibility the Allies might lose, if you think one side was smarter than the other, The Road to Big Week will unnerve you and change forever your perception of what happened in those high, embattled skies. ——Robert F. Dorr, co-author of Hell Hawks!

SIX DAYS IN JUNE

How Israel Won the 1967 Arab-Israeli War

Eric Hammel

Distinguished military historian Eric Hammel becomes the first chronicler of the 1967 Six Day War to unite the story of development of Israel’s bold brand of military training and planning with a detailed narrative account of her breathtaking victories in Sinai, Jerusalem, The West Bank, and the Golan Heights. Unlike all earlier accounts of the 1967 war, Hammel’s sweeping narrative describes how, from the early 1950s, the Israel Defense Force—Zahal—undertook a relentless and often visionary campaign to prepare for the inevitable war of national survival that, when it came, radically altered the Middle East and has profoundly influenced international politics ever since.

Israel’s brilliant, innovative military thinkers developed extremely flexible strategies, operational plans, and battlefield tactics aimed at overcoming several large Arab forces with Zahal’s much smaller army and air force. Zahal’s innovations proved to be so effective and fundamentally sound that they established the norms of modem military planning and performance that saw the United States and her coalition allies through the lightning Desert Storm campaign of 1991. 

Hammel decisively disproves the enduring myth that Israel’s stunning 1967 victory was a “miracle” or a “fluke.” He explains how, by necessity and in secret, a tiny Third-World nation developed a First‑World military force that has become the envy of all the nations of the world.

 

Hammel is at his proven best when describing the actions of men at war. Six Days in June seamlessly meshes classic military history with the human drama of Israel’s finest hour.

 


 

 The Root

The Marines in Beirut

August 1982­–February 1984  Eric Hammel

Facing northward out of a second-deck window, the lance corporal was hurled through the window and out into mid-       air. He fell thirty feet to the ground and landed on his feet. He was not harmed until falling debris struck him on the head and shoulders. Nearly every other member of the recon platoon in his compartment was killed in the inferno.

At 6:22 A.M. on October 23, 1983, a yellow Mercedes truck raced across the parking lot of the Beirut International Airport in Lebanon. Crashing through a chain-link gate into the 24th Marine Amphibious Unit’s headquarters compound, it raced on careening through a shack and into the open atrium lobby of a terminal building where the men were housed, many still asleep.

The truck lurched to a stop. Seconds later, 12,000 pounds of high explosives piled in the bed of the truck exploded. The four-story steel and concrete building shuddered, then collapsed. Two hundred forty-one Americans were killed and many more were  injured in the disaster.

Soon after the 24th MAU returned to the United States in November 1983, the Marine Corps granted Eric Hammel an unprecedented opportunity to interview survivors of the bombing and those who came to their rescue. The Root is the result of these interviews. It is a narrative account of the Marines’ mission in Lebanon, describing their escalating involvement in the largely unreported battles fought in and around the shattered city of Beirut. And it presents in detail the terrorist attack on the unit headquarters.

The focus of The Root is on the nearly 200 people interviewed by the author—enlisted men and officers—for whom the shock and horror at the bombing were still fresh. Their reactions to the danger, what they survived and how they survived it, their concerns and insights, make The Root a timeless chronicle of the human spirit—and as timely as today’s headlines.

Praise for The Root

 “Illustrates Washington’s exceptional resistance to accepting the facts that contradict its preconceived views. . . . It’s time that we learn from our mistakes and never again put our people in situations we do not understand.  A first step is to read how our effort in Beirut turned from a noble cause into having our troops pinned down in an escalating civil war we did not understand.” —Colonel Thomas X Hammes, USMC (Ret.), author of The Sling and the Stone

 It’s a fine book . . . a fascinating record of the life of a military unit . . . “ —New York Times

 “Hammel has grippingly reconstructed a story that was often obscured as it unfolded.” —Los Angeles Times

 “Hammel’s detailed account of individual rescue efforts is intensely graphic. . . . It is first-hand and realistic.  It is not sensationalized or trivialized.” —New York Tribune

 “Eric Hammel’s well-written book . . . strikes a deep emotional chord . . .” —Naval Institute Proceedings

 “(The Root is) a book about the violence of combat, a first-hand account of death and danger, fear, pain and survival. . . . ”  —Baltimore Sun

 “A disturbingly accurate portrait…well-researched (and) well-crafted. . . .” —Kirkus Reviews

 “This is a moving book which tells a story that needs to be told.” —San Diego Union

BLOODY TARAWA

A Pictorial Record

Expanded Edition

Eric Hammel and John E. Lane

 

On the morning of Saturday, November 20, 1943, the U.S. 2d Marine Division undertook the first modern amphibious assault against a well-defended beachhead. The objective was tiny Betio Island in Tarawa Atoll. The result was an classic story of tragedy and near defeat turned around into an epic of victory and indomitable human spirit.

Built around the updated text of their 76 Hours: The Invasion of Tarawa, Hammel and Lane now reveal the graphic horror of warfare at its worst with the presentation of 307 photos and combat drawings taken from U.S. Navy and U.S. Marine Corps archives and several private collections. Many of the photos used in Bloody Tarawa have never been published before.

Although the admirals commanding the Tarawa invasion fleet had assured the Marines that Betio would be pounded to coral dust by a massive naval and air bombardment—the largest of its kind ever seen to that time—the first waves of Marines found the Japanese defenses intact and manned by determined foes. Within minutes of the start of the head-on assault, the American battle plan was a shambles and scores of Marines had been killed or wounded. The assault virtually stopped at the water’s edge, its momentum halted before many Marines ever dismounted from the amphibian tractors that had carried them to the deadly, fire-swept beach. Follow-up waves of Marines suffered grievous casualties when they were forced to wade more than 500 yards through fire-swept, knee-deep water because tidal conditions had been miscalculated by the invasion’s planners.

Follow the bloody battle for Betio in graphic detail as heroic American fighting men advance every life-threatening step across the tiny island in the face of what many historians agree was the best and most concentrated defenses manned by the bravest and most competent Japanese defenders American troops encountered in the entire Pacific War.

As VietnamÍs former imperial capital, Hue occupied a special place in the hearts of the Vietnamese people. Over decades of conflict, it had been spared the terrible effects of war. But that all changed on January 31, 1968, the eve of Tet„the lunar new year, VietnamÍs most important national holiday Tet had previously been marked by a mutual ceasefire, but this time the celebrations and hopes for a happy new year were shattered. All of South Vietnam erupted in a cataclysm of violence as the North Vietnamese Army and the Viet Cong launched a massive military and political offensive. The American embassy in Saigon came under siege and VietnamÍs ancient capital city was captured nearly in its entirety. The only forces immediately available to counterattack into Hue were two Marine infantry companies based ten miles south of the city. For the next four weeks, as the world looked on, fewer than two thousand U.S. Marines fought street by street and building by building, with virtually no air support, to retake the symbols of HueÍs political and cultural importance. It was savage work. Ground gained was often measured in yards, with every alley, street corner, window, and garden adding to the butcherÍs bill. In the end, the Marines retook the city, but scores of Americans and thousands of Vietnamese civilians died there. This pictorial is a testament to their will and their sacrifice. The Vietnam War is often pictured as a jungle conflict, punctuated by American troops fighting in rural hut-filled villages. But in the 1968 Tet Offensive, the war spilled out of the jungle into the streets of Hue City. The battle for Hue became one of the most important of the war, a month of grueling house-to-house fighting through buildings and around civilians. Marines In Hue City documents the intense urban combat in Hue with many never-before-published photographs, including more than one hundred in full color.

AIR WAR EUROPA: Chronology

America's Air War Against Germany In Europe and North Africa 

1942 - 1945

Eric Hammel

THE GREAT AERIAL CRUSADE OF WORLD WAR II: There was never a military

campaign like it, and there never will be another. Here is an opportunity to follow the great crusade as it unfolded in the air over the Nazi empire in North Africa and Europe. This exhaustive chronology sheds a fascinating light on the course of America’s air war against Germany and her allies.

* The Air War Europa Chronology is a day-by-day accounting of all the major combat missions undertaken by United States Army Air Forces and United States Navy aviation units in the European, Mediterranean, and North African theaters of operations in World War II.

* A special introductory narrative explains the crucial evolution of fighter tactics over western Europe—and how it led to the inexorable defeat of Hitler’s vaunted Luftwaffe.

 * All U.S. Army Air Forces theater fighter aces are covered— including unit affiliation, date and time ace status was attained, and date and time of highest victory tally (over ten).

 * Information pertaining to the arrival, activation, transfer, departure, and decommissioning of air commands, combat units, and special units. Comings and goings of the commanders of major aviation units are also covered.

 * Provides a rich contextual framework pertaining to related ground campaigns; international and high-command conferences and decisions influencing air strategies and campaigns; and breakthroughs in the development of special techniques and equipment, such as the evolution of the role of escorts and the strategically crucial introduction of fighter auxiliary fuel tanks.

 *  Bibliography, guide to abbreviations, maps, and two indexes.

 ACES AGAINST JAPAN II

The American Aces Speak

Eric Hammel

Leading combat historian Eric Hammel comes through again with an engrossing new collection of thirty-eight first-person accounts by American World War II fighter aces. Coupled with a clear overview of America’s far-flung air war against Japan and a clear appreciation of the burgeoning industrial might backing the American war effort, Hammel’s detailed interviews bring forth the most thrilling in-the-cockpit experiences that World War II’s fabled Army, Navy, Marine, and Flying Tiger aces have chosen to tell.

Ride with 2d Lieutenant Jack Donalson as he downs three Zeros over Luzon on the second desperate day of World War II in the Philippines. Share three lonely air battles over Burma and China with Flying Tiger aces RT Smith, Dick Rossi, and Joe Rosbert. Hear the cry of victory as 2d Lieutenant Don McGee survives yet another encounter with Zeros over embattled Port Moresby, New Guinea, in his substandard P-39 Airacobra. Feel your heart beat with anxiety as an injured Ensign Ed Wendorf races against time to land his damaged Hellcat aboard the USS Lexington before he bleeds to death. And thrill to the hunt as Pearl Harbor veteran 1st Lieutenant Frank Holmes seeks personal revenge against Admiral Isoroku Yamamoto on one of history’s most important  and most thrilling fighter missions. 

The American Aces Speak series is a highly charged five-volume excursion into life and death in the air, told by men who excelled and triumphed in aerial combat and lived to tell about it. In sum, it is an emotional rendering of what brave airmen felt and how they fought in the now-dim days of America’s living national history.

These are America’s eagles, and the stories are their own, in their very own words.

 Critical Acclaim for The American Aces Speak Series

 The Book World says: “Aces Against Japan is a thunderous, personal, high-adventure book giving our ‘men in the sky’ their own voice”

 Book Page says: “Eric Hammel’s book is recommended reading. It is a must for any historian’s bookshelf.”

 The Library Journal says: “No PR hype or dry-as-dust prose here. Hammel allows his flyers to tell their stories in their own way.Exciting stuff aviation and World War II buffs will love.”

 The Friday Review of Defense Literature says: “Aces Against Japan is replete with individual heroism and personal feats that almost defy comprehension.A thoroughly enjoyable foray into the cockpits of World War II fighter pilots.”

 The Providence Sunday Journal says: “A treat that deftly blends a chronology of the Pacific War with tales that would rival a Saturday action matinee.”

 Infantry Magazine says: “If you would like to read one book that will give you a broad overview and yet a detailed look at what a fighter pilot’s air war was likethis is the book.”

 The Bookshelf says: “Hammel is one of our best military historians when it comes to presenting that often complex subject to the general public. He has demonstrated this facility in a number of fine books before [Aces Against Germany] and now he does so again. Not to be missed by either buff or scholar.”

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