South Pacific Cauldron is the first complete history embracing all land, sea, and air operations in the Pacific War. Unlike most other World War II accounts, this work covers the South Pacific operations in detail. The audiobook includes many now-forgotten operations that deserve to be well remembered. Significantly, the official Australian history of World War II correctly observed that Australia's part in the Pacific war is barely mentioned in American histories.
This volume finally brings the major Australian contribution to the fore. The dramatis personae could hardly be improved upon, including brilliant and imperious General Douglas MacArthur, audacious and profane Admiral William "Bull" Halsey, and bibulous and indelicate Australian General Thomas Blamey. As for the fighting men, many of their stories are captured in accounts of the actions for which they were awarded the Congressional Medal of Honor, Victoria Cross, and other decorations for valor.
This book was a little dry with much of it being along the lines of "unit A moved here, unit B moved there and clashed with enemy forces. The allies casualties were X and the Japenese suffered Y casualties". Much of the detail is at the strategic level and the only time you hear about anyone below a company commander is if they won an award like the Victoria Cross or Medal of Honour. If you're looking for insights into the soldiers lives then this book is not for you.
If you are interested in the movements of armies, navies and air forces and insights in the decesions made by their commanders then you should give this book a go; it is packed full of information and seems very well researched. Maybe like me you will be suprised at how much fighting happened in the South Pacific besides the more well known Battle for the Coral Sea, Guadalcanal and Kokoda. I'd give this book 3.5 stars if I could.
3 of 3 people found this review helpful
I chose this book based on professionally readings and it was subject I had little knowledge on before I read the book. I think most people can tell you about battles in North Africa, Italy, France, or even the Eastern Front. However, other than the amphibious battles of the Central Pacific and the naval campaigns, there is, relatively, little discussion of the ground campaigns of the South Pacific. It is a good overview of this theater operations and I felt it was a nice primary for other readings and when I start to watch the documentary "Pacific".
At the same time, I read "Once an Eagle". It is interesting the lead character commands a fictional division in the South Pacific.
Dry and monotonus, a collection of unit histories falling far short of its hype. Names and battles grew monotonus.
1 of 2 people found this review helpful
I initially purchased this because the synopsis led me to believe it had a good account of the Australians' contribution to the victory in the Pacific theater. Not so. The usual American stories are covered much more than any of the Allies, particularly Australia. I am so sick of hearing about General Douglas MacArthur's legendary narcissism.
This overall account is a bit heavy, causing me zone out several times. And, many times, it was difficult to tell whether it was the Allies or the Japanese fighting, dying, escaping and/or strategizing. There's a lot of statistics in this book which would make it more interesting in print rather than audio. very little on the Australians
One point that I found to be of great interest is the way author Alan Rems described the problems incurred by the African-Americans in World War II as a whole. In the kazillion books that I've read on the subject, black soliers are rarely even mentioned. In the few books that contain our contribution, the gamut runs to either our men being totally useless and untrainable or - closer to the truth - they served with incomparable bravery and sacrifice. Here, we learn the real obstacles that made it difficult for black Americans: being expected to put their hearts into fighting for a country that treated them like second-class citizens. Yet even Hems fails to name the first African-American soldier to be killed in the line of duty in the Pacific in his description of the deed.
Overall, this is a good book for real devotées of military history.
3 of 6 people found this review helpful