Thursday, August 26, 2010

Book: "My Father's War....A Son's Journey" by Peter Richmond*****

Last Monday during the lunch hour my wife and I walked down to the Medford branch of the Jackson County Library and on the way out I stopped at the Friends of the Library used book store. They had a sale on biography's. There among the many biographies of famous people I found this modest looking book on the 50 cent cart next to Henry Kissinger and Howard Cosell. What a bargain. I could not put the book down.

The book was written in 1996 by the son of a U.S. Marine who had fought in the South Pacific in World War II with the 1st Marine Division . The father survived the war but died when his son was seven in 1960 in an airline collision. The son became an author of several books and a sports writer and went back to the South Pacific in the 1990's in a search of the places where his father had fought. He went to present-day Guadalcanal, New Britain and Peleliu. He also searched Marine Corps records and talked with many of his fathers comrades in arms inthe Marine Corps.

The book reminded me of two other books:

In 1980 the famous author William Manchester wrote one of the best books about World War II titled "Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War". Manchester had been in the U.S. Marine Corps during the war and wrote about the war and the battles he experienced in the South Pacific as he chronicled his trip back to the South Pacific in the 1970's.

In 2000 James Bradly wrote "Flags of Our Fathers" about his father and the other men who raised the American Flag on Iwo Jima in the famous photo now immortalised at the Marine Corps Memorial across the Potomac River from Washington DC. The book was turned into a movie by film director Clint Eastwood.

Both author's, James Bradly and Peter Richmond, are "baby Boomers" who knew little about their father's experiences in World War II and the books are an attempt by them, after their fathers deaths, to discover the defining experiences of their father's lives. On the other hand, William Manchester's book is an attempt by him to purge the bad memories of the war by returning to the locations of his nightmares.

To read more about "My Father's War A Son's Journey" or to buy it click on the title for a link to

I highly recommend all three books as well as the movie.

From "My Father's War A Son's Journey":

Most of the books (about Guadalcanal) share one thing : the refrain that is now legend, quoting the veteran of the Canal as he report to the afterlife:

And when he gets to Heaven, to St. Peter he will tell: "One more Marine reporting, Sir -- I've served my time in Hell"