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Summary

From award-winning historian Saul David, an action-packed and powerful new narrative of the Battle of Okinawa - the last great clash of the Second World War and one that had profound consequences for the modern world.

For 83 blood-soaked days, the fighting on the island of Okinawa plumbed depths of savagery as bad as anything seen on the Eastern Front. When it was over, almost a quarter of a million people had lost their lives, making it by far the bloodiest US battle of the Pacific. In Okinawa, the death toll included thousands of civilians lost to mass suicide, convinced by Japanese propaganda that they would otherwise be raped and murdered by the enemy. On the US side, David argues that the horror of the battle ultimately determined President Truman’s choice to use atomic bombs in August 1945.

It is a brutal, heart-rending story and one David tells with masterly attention to detail: the cramped cockpit of a kamikaze plane, the claustrophobic gun turret of a warship under attack and a half-submerged foxhole amidst the squalor and battle detritus. The narrative follows generals, presidents and emperors, as well as the humbler experiences of ordinary servicemen and families on both sides and the Okinawan civilians who were caught so tragically between the warring parties.

Using graphic eyewitness accounts and declassified documents from archives in three continents, Saul David illuminates a shocking chapter of history that is too often missing from Western-centric narratives of the Second World War.

©2020 Saul David (P)2020 HarperCollins Publishers Limited

Critic reviews

"Gripping, even gruesome, yet deeply moving, Crucible of Hell sweeps us masterfully from a coral charnel house in the Pacific to the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima." (David Reynolds, author of Island Stories)

"Excellent. Saul David’s gripping narrative is admirably clear." (Antony Beevor)

"David restores a human dimension to this battle - both sides are brave, stoic, frightened, barbaric and occasionally cowardly. This is narrative history at its most visceral as battles unfold almost in real time...In short chapters David shifts between American and Japanese fronts, providing a gripping reconstruction of the action." (Gerard DeGroot, Times)

What listeners say about Crucible of Hell: Okinawa

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Download the book in parts

Had trouble getting this to download, I changed the settings to download in parts and it worked. Really good book and enjoyed the narration once I got used to the narrator.

3 people found this helpful

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Great Book

After showing download error for a few days, I was able to download it and I am listening to it right now. Riveting book by Saul David but the narration could have been better.

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  • EJ
  • 04-04-20

Excellent account of the savage battle on Okinawa

After initial failed attempts to download this book Audible managed to fix the problem. Now listening to it and thoroughly enjoying the book. Anyone interested in Pacific War history will love it.

2 people found this helpful

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Shocking Price of War

If there is one audio book I have listened to which in my mind is a prime advocate for all wars to be abolished, its this one. The sheer waste of life on both sides is literally staggering and the brutality of combat really comes through to the listener.

1 person found this helpful

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Brilliant

I wasn’t sure how a book on a single battle would be a ‘filled out’, but Saul David has done it perfectly. A brilliant mix of historical detail and the oh so important memories of those who served there.

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Epic story but poor narration

This title is badly let down by the abrupt and declamatory style of the narrator.

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absolutely outstanding

An incredible in depth and gripping history of the Battle for Okinawa. From the commanders to the soldiers,sailors and airmen of both sides down to the civilians caught in the middle. just incredible