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Fire and Fortitude: The US Army in the Pacific War, 1941-1943

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  • Fire and Fortitude: The US Army in the Pacific War, 1941-1943

    Just finished Fire and Fortitude by John McManus. Overall I found it interesting on a topic mostly ignored in isolating the US Army's earlier war trials and tribulations in 535 pages. Some of the information has been covered in other books but this still was a good introduction of the theater and personalities begging for additional follow up into books. Spanning the period with chapters on the Philippines, China, New Guinea, Borneo, the Aleutians and finishing with Makin. Conditions of the large number of POWs is also covered. Towards the final chapters it seemed to cover less in detail than it should maybe due to writer's fatigue or publisher's limits. Throughout the book one learns of the appalling conditions American troops endured and the varying levels of leadership which often made the conditions and fighting worse due to ambition, jealousy and incompetence. One gets a particularly negative view of MacArthur and one still wonders how he was not relieved or reassigned. I like McManus as a writer having read about every book he has written and this one was an interesting addition to my library. Based upon the range of 41-43 expect a second volume.

    If anyone else has read this it would be interesting to hear other impressions.

  • #2
    Originally posted by Major Mike View Post
    Just finished Fire and Fortitude by John McManus. Overall I found it interesting on a topic mostly ignored in isolating the US Army's earlier war trials and tribulations in 535 pages. Some of the information has been covered in other books but this still was a good introduction of the theater and personalities begging for additional follow up into books. Spanning the period with chapters on the Philippines, China, New Guinea, Borneo, the Aleutians and finishing with Makin. Conditions of the large number of POWs is also covered. Towards the final chapters it seemed to cover less in detail than it should maybe due to writer's fatigue or publisher's limits. Throughout the book one learns of the appalling conditions American troops endured and the varying levels of leadership which often made the conditions and fighting worse due to ambition, jealousy and incompetence. One gets a particularly negative view of MacArthur and one still wonders how he was not relieved or reassigned. I like McManus as a writer having read about every book he has written and this one was an interesting addition to my library. Based upon the range of 41-43 expect a second volume.

    If anyone else has read this it would be interesting to hear other impressions.
    mACaRTHUR GETS a bad rap. In hindsight, he did lose in the Philippines,- but the money to garrison the island of Luzon was never forthcoming until the eleventh hour- much the rest of the archipelago. For example, there was no rial link from Manilla to 'Bataan. the decision not to purchase the Douglas DB-7 in 1938 meant that he was saddled with obsolete aircraft.

    A dammed if I do, dammed if I don't scenario.
    The trout who swims against the current gets the most oxygen..

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    • #3
      A lot of troops and equipment was at sea or heading to the West Coast when the war started. Some equipment like the 3 inch AA guns was supposed to be replaced by 90mm guns, but all they had was 3 inch guns when the New Mexico Guard went to Manila. The American Army in the Philippines was in peacetime mode as well. The M-3 Stuart tanks arrived in October or so and were put in storage. Nobody had removed the weatherproofing or cleaned the cannon barrels. This was the job of the Ordinance Corps and no one made them do their jobs. When they did reach the field, some old General would assign them to guarding an airfield.

      If FDR had not been afraid of MacArthur's Republican connections, we might have got a better response on Luzon.

      Pruitt
      Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

      Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

      by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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      • #4
        The political influence with Republicans for MacArthur seemed weak at this point. He was part of one faction in the Army opposed to Pershing and his followers. Postwar WW I it appeared that there was a battle going on for top assignments and influence as I can't figure out how MacArthur ever became Supt. of West Point and then Chief of Staff unless he had some back room supporters in Hoover's administration.

        MacArthur failed to follow the war plans which he was obligated to do and put his troops into a battle they were not able to fight. His arrogance and poor generalship caused much misery. He failed to go and see the Philippine forces he was so proud of prewar staying in his airconditioned hotel suite. I see a trend in books about him being far more critical the later they are written, Much of history needs to be aged a bit to get a better perspective on the actual outcome and the decisions made.

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        • #5
          Looking forward to reading this book.

          I wonder if the author has plans for a second book covering the Army in the Pacific from 1943 through the rest of the war?

          The U.S. Army in the Pacific in World War II gets overlooked often.
          "I disapprove of what you say, but I will defend to the death your right to say it" Beatrice Evelyn Hall
          Updated for the 21st century... except if you are criticizing islam, that scares the $hii+e out of me!

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          • #6
            I believe this was set up for a second book. The major role of the Army in the return to the Philippines and Okinawa are too significant not to address as a companion volume. There were also some major problems with commanders to present. I wish book had some more info about the units being brought into the theater as far as training, staging and movement. Post war occupation of Japan, Korea and the Philippines would be interesting, although I have read some other books about this. I think McManus may bring some material not currently found in most books on those topics as he usually does.

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            • #7
              I am re-reading it again. I would have loved to see a bit more about the 26th Cavalry (Philippine Scouts). I have read two books by officers in the Regiment. The Regiment had re-enlisted the men right before the War. A large number were released and they were gone. These men would have been a great help in the new Philippine Army. During the Great Depression, Congress had cut back on Cavalry Regiments and deleted a Squadron in each Battalion. That made the Cavalry Regiment two thirds of an Infantry Regiment. The newly activated Cavalry Regiments could have used the extra manpower.

              Pruitt
              Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

              Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

              by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

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              • #8
                I knew about the reducing of unit strengths as a cost saving measure but are you referring to restoring the unit strength as part of the prewar preparations?

                Are these the two books you are referring to?

                American Guerrilla: The Forgotten Heroics of Russell W. Volckmann—the Man Who Escaped from Bataan, Raised a Filipino Army against the Japanese, and became the True “Father” of Army Special Forces

                Lieutenant Ramsey's War

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                • #9
                  I am saying they should have added the reduced squadrons back in. The Army had no problem adding to Infantry units. I think I have read both of the mentioned books. I think Lieutenant Ramsey's War is more fresh in my memory. A bunch of my books are sitting in a storage locker two hours from here and some are in my car trunk.

                  Pruitt
                  Pruitt, you are truly an expert! Kelt06

                  Have you been struck by the jawbone of an ASS lately?

                  by Khepesh "This is the logic of Pruitt"

                  Comment

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