Utmost Savagery: The Three Days of Tarawa by Joseph H. Alexander

Posted November 5, 2015 by Iain Martin in Reviews / 0 Comments

Utmost Savagery: The Three Days of Tarawa by Joseph H. AlexanderUtmost Savagery: The Three Days of Tarawa by Joseph H. Alexander
Narrator: Tom Weiner
Published by Findaway World LLC on 07 January 2011
Length: 8 hrs and 41 mins
Genres: History
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
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On November 20, 1943, in the first trial by fire of America’s fledgling amphibious assault doctrine, 5,000 men stormed the beaches of Tarawa, a seemingly invincible Japanese island fortress barely the size of the 300-acre Pentagon parking lots. Before the first day ended, one-third of the marines who had crossed Tarawa’s deadly reef under murderous fire were killed, wounded, or missing. In three days of fighting, four Americans would win the Medal of Honor and six thousand combatants would die.

Now, Colonel Joseph Alexander, a combat marine himself, presents the full story of Tarawa in all its horror and glory: the extreme risks, the horrific combat, and the heroic breakthroughs. Based on exhaustive research, never-before-published accounts from marine survivors, and new evidence from Japanese sources, Colonel Alexander captures the grit, guts, and relentless courage of United States Marines overcoming outrageous odds to deliver victory for their country.

Colonel Joseph H. Alexander (Ret.), a combat veteran who served in the Marine Corps for 28 years, is the author of six books and has helped produce 25 military documentaries. He lives in Asheville, North Carolina.

©1995 Joseph H. Alexander, 2009 by Findaway World, LLC (P)2009 Findaway World, LLC

What the Critics Say

“The first complete and definitive account of the Battle of Tarawa.” (Major General Mike Ryan, USMC [Ret.], Navy Cross recipient)

“A gripping narrative of one of the bloodiest battles of WWII in the Pacific theater.” (Publishers Weekly)

“Without a doubt the best narrative of the struggle ever produced.” (Richard B. Frank, author of Guadalcanal)


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It was a time of utmost savagery
I still don’t know how they took the place.
–Kerr Eby — Tarawa, November 1943

The Battle of Tarawa was the first opposed Allied landing in the Pacific during World War II and the first in the central Pacific campaign to eventually seize the Marshall Islands near Japan. Tarawa was also the first test of the new Marine doctrine for amphibious assault that included the use of amphibian tractors in an assault role.

The Marine 2nd Division landed on the Betio, the southernmost island of the Tarawa atoll in the Gilberts (now named the Kiribati Islands) on November 20, 1943. Betio was defended by over four thousand Japanese including an elite detachment of Special Naval Landing Forces, all deployed into heavy fortifications. Yard for yard Betio was the most heavily defended objective ever assaulted by the Marines. Over the course of three days the Marines would suffer over three thousand casualties including a thousand killed to take the island. The Navy also lost over six hundred men killed on the escort carrier USS Liscombe Bay sunk by a Japanese submarine. Only seventeen enemy soldiers were taken alive, the garrison choosing to fight to the last man. Four Marines were later awarded the Medal of Honor. It was a rude awakening for the American public to realize this was just the beginning of the central Pacific drive, and what it might eventually cost to defeat Japan.

Col. Joseph H. Alexander commanded a Marine amphibious tractor company in Vietnam and later became the Chief of Staff for the Third Marine Division. He provides an objective and thoroughly researched battle history of Tarawa including the tactical mistakes and critical lessons learned that would pave the way for victory in later assaults. The author draws on previously untapped sources from Japan, scientific studies on ocean tides, and over a hundred interviews with Marine veterans and war correspondents. When the book was first published in 1995 it was immediately proclaimed the finest account of this battle, an honor I think it will never lose.
Produced by Findaway and narrated by Tom Weiner the audio keeps your attention easily even with much information flowing past. The battle descriptions are especially tense without overdone dramatics. Overall, I found the narrator’s voice perfectly assigned for this book. Of special commendation — the tricky place names and the often mispronounced Japanese names and terms were all spoken correctly… a rarity.

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Audiobook purchased for review by the Reviewer and downloaded from Audible.com[/accordion_item]
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About Joseph H. Alexander

No bio available.


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