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Pacific World War II Book Review  
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by Walter Lord
Viking Press, Inc  1977
322 pages
Index, photos, maps
ISBN: 0670437654

Language: English

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Lonely Vigil
Coastwatchers of the Solomons

Originally published in 1977, this book tells the story of Coastwatchers in the Solomon Islands - that remarkable band of individualists who operated deep behind Japanese lines in the dark days of 1942-43. Living by their wits, with the help of friendly natives, they passed along critical intelligence, rescued downed flyers, and saved men from their sinking ships - including John F. Kennedy’s PT-109. In Admiral Halsey’s words, "The Coastwatchers saved Guadalcanal and Guadalcanal saved the Pacific."

It is also the story of the natives who helped them, the missionaries they worked with, the downed flyers and castaways they rescued, the Marine patrols they guided, the pilots and submariners who serviced them, and even the Japanese who chased them.

To piece the story together, Lord traveled 40,000 miles to interview the participants, pore through archives, and examine private letters and diaries. He even made a three-day hike through the Guadalcanal jungle to inspect the coastwatcher hideout on Gold Ridge, to put readers in their shoes. The result is a major contribution to the history of World War II told by a master storyteller.

In 2006, this classic was reprinted in 2006 by the US Naval Institute Press with a new cover art, ISBN: 1591144663

Review by Justin Taylan  

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Last Updated
September 21, 2023

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