Bill Sloan’s THE DARKEST SUMMER

I read Bill Sloan’s previous two books BROTHERHOOD OF HEROES and THE ULTIMATE BATTLE in the lead up to the HBO mini-series THE PACIFIC. They both detailed the US Marines during the battles of Peleliu and Okinawa respectively. In his new book he looks at the US Marines during the Korean War in particular the defence of Pusan, the Inchon landings and the entry of China to the war.

I haven’t read any books on The Korean War before so I found this book fascinating. What intrigued me the most about it was the differences between the way the US approached and fought the Second World War in The Pacific to how they approached and fought the war in Korea. The US fought the Japanese in an ‘island hopping’ campaign, skipping main military and civilian targets and concentrated instead on smaller strategic targets. In Korea they had to fight a more urban war and cover much more ground. This meant that they had much more contact with civilians and refugees. There was also the beginnings of an over-confidence and over-reliance in new technologies and new tactics and you can see the beginnings of the mistakes that would be made later in Vietnam.

While not as engaging and personal as Stephen Ambrose’s BAND OF BROTHERS or a detailed study like Antony Beevor I still found Bill Sloan’s look at the progress of the US Marines from WW2 to Korea very interesting and compelling. I look forward to more books about the Marines, hopefully one on their involvement in Vietnam (especially after reading Karl Marlantes’ MATTERHORN).


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