Regular price: £20.29

Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – choose any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • Free, unlimited access to Audio Shows
  • After your trial, Audible is just £7.99/month
In Basket


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

Critic reviews

“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)

What members say

No Reviews are Available
Sort by:
  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Iain
  • 23-02-11

The Definitive Battle History of Tarawa

Col. Alexander's "Utmost Savagery: The Three Days of Tarawa" is the definitive battle history of this epic event. It is my understanding that he worked closely with historian Richard B. Frank and was able to tap into newly translated official Japanese war histories to uncover the Japanese side of the story. He also drew upon numerous interviews with veteran participants including war correspondent Robert Sherrod who landed with the Marines. Alexander's work is one of the finest battle histories I have ever read. Expertly narrated, I highly recommend this title to anyone interested in WW2 history.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Charles
  • 18-11-12

Utmost Savagery.

A Great Story about Tarawa and the Pacific War. I like history and espically WW ll in the Pacific so naturally I was drawn to this Book. I would recommend this book to others.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Leigh W. Barrett
  • 27-12-11

Not what at all it advertises

This book wasn???t for you, but who do you think might enjoy it more?

Anyone unfamiliar with the battle for Tarawa may gain some knowledge.

What could Joseph H. Alexander have done to make this a more enjoyable book for you?

If this book had truly contained the kind of information available only to those who were there on the ground and what they experienced and saw the book miight have been great. Instead it was primarily a rehash of what the major players (e.g., generals, colonels, majors admirals, etc.) did and said. I stopped reading about 2/3s of the way through due the lack of individual marine or soldiers reports.

Which scene was your favorite?


You didn???t love this book... but did it have any redeeming qualities?

It was well written as a command report.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • X
  • 15-05-11

With the Marines at Tarawa

This is why I listen to books. This little book is densely packed with tons of great research. I tried to read this in print and got stuck. But, on audio, I blew through this book quickly. Terrific history of the nearly 6,000 lives lost on both sides over a couple of days in a fight to the death on the most heavily defended atoll in the Pacific, an island battleground that is the size of the parking lot at the pentagon. Impeccably researched. Well written. Boldly narrated, Very entertaining.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Max M
  • 12-06-11

Read Like a Military Operation

First off, any book about the island campaigns during WW II should be read. Having said this, I am bit hesitant on one like this, for my tastes. The first several chapters contain a lot of detail about the TO lines of both the US and Japanese forces. For some readers who want to know all the pre-battle unit organizational details this is a must. I prefer to read about the battle itself and the conflicts and struggles of individual Marines during the taking of an objective.
Still a good story and narration by Tom Weiner.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Frederic R. Mathis
  • 06-03-16

Tactical presentation provides a most vivid and visceral accounting of the battle.

While I have read several accounts of Marine Corps military pacific war actions...all employing memoirs to convey the intensity and knowledge of the military history of each event I believe the thorough use of the tactical narrative captured my interest greater than any of those utilizing memoirs.

I am profoundly impacted by this account of the battle for Tarawa...being eight years old at the time of the battle and listening to the comments regarding the tragic but heroic aspects from neighbors

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Matthew
  • 16-10-14

Compelling History

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

Yes, but only if they were in interested in WW II or history in general. Most people are too wrapped up in their online life to give a book like this a listen. Sad, but true.

Who was your favorite character and why?

Not applicable to a book of this type.

What does Tom Weiner bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you just read the book?

His narration is among the best. One of my top five favorite narrators. WW II is one of my primary areas of interest, but I actually found this book by searching his name.

Did you have an extreme reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

This book didn't evoke emotion such as books like "For Crew and Country", "Neptune's Inferno" or "The Battle of Midway" by Craig Symonds did, but it was nonetheless a book that made me seriously think about the sacrifices made on these islands.

Any additional comments?

This is a solid book with good historical information about a battle that I knew little about before. It gives a good amount of biographical detail about the main players without getting too far into the weeds like so many books do. Definitely worth the listen. However, I'm not sure another narrator could have pulled it off. His narration definitely kept me engaged.