Thursday, March 18, 2010

Pacific Disappointment

I've just finished watching the first in a series of shows by Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg and I'm quite disappointed.

Don't get me wrong, I'm a big fan of these giants of the movie industry. I loved 'Band of Brothers' and no doubt I'll enjoy the rest of the series of 'Pacific' but right now its not doing it for me.

Oxford University Edition cover of With the Ol... I understand that 'Pacific' is based very loosely on Eugene Sledge's book With the Old Breed At Peleliu and Okinawa. This is a masterpiece of a book which I have read, and reread often. It really brings war on the Japanese front alive in a way that few other books have been able to do.

If you want  a few good books about the 2nd World War and are fed up with Stephen Ambrose's regurgitation of the same few stories under different titles then may I suggest the following;

A Writer at War - Vasily Grossman, with the Red Army 1941 - 1945
Sniper on the Eastern Front, Albrecht Wacker (The German side of battle)
The Day the War Ended - Martin Gilbert (A myriad of 2WW first hand accounts)

Cover of "A Writer at War: Vasily Grossma...But I digress. "Pacific" doesn't follow the same format as Band of Brothers which is a bit of a shame as we don't go through training with the 'team'. We don't know their names, we don't know their ranks or place in the hierarchy of the unit. So all we get to see are a few Marines going to war.

So far I can take it or leave it. There is no doubt in my mind that I'll watch the whole series, I just don't really care right now what happens to the characters. Which, I guess, is a shame.



  1. Unfortunatley I agree. My Dad served in the same Peleliu and Okinawa campaigns as Sledge so I read and re read the book. The movie is not anywhere near the BOB, not yet.

    For another great read on the subject: Helmet For My Pillow by Leckie

  2. As you know I pretty much agree with you. The series is based on Sledge's book as well as "Helmet for my Pillow" by Robert Lectkie, who I think was with the 1st Marines before Sledge. Sledge didn't join them until Peleliu (hence the title), while the 1st was part of the Battle for Guadalcanal in late 1942 into 1943.

    Helmet for my Pillow was recently republished to coincide with the series. I also recommend, although it's been years since I read it, Guadalcanal Diary, by Richard Tregaskis. It covers the first months of the invasion, but details much of the heavy fighting.

    I haven't read Helmet for my Pillow, but it's on my summer reading list after a couple of other books.

    The Pacific might grow on me after a few viewings, but it's not nearly as compelling as Band of Brothers or Saving Private Ryan. I found it hard to track the relationships between the various characters or even develop much rapport with them. The exception to that was the story of John Basilone and his wife Lena.