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Pacific World War II Book Review  
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by Bruce Petty
Naval Institute Press  2003
408 pages
Index, photos
ISBN: 1591146631
Cover Price: $29.95
Language: English

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Voices From The Pacific War
Bluejackets Remember

The voices collected in this book by Navy veteran Bruce Petty all report the adventures of young enlisted men who served during World War II. This is oral history at its most compelling, but its cumulative impact can leave a reader feeling as if he were looking into an album filled with personal snapshots. These sailors fought through almost all the Pacific battles, which are fast fading into history. What they saw and heard and suffered is seen again in narrow focus-not through the eyes of professional historians or journalists, but through the impressions and reactions of individuals from small towns, farms, and factories across the United States. Many of them were high-school dropouts, anxious to serve or to escape local draft boards that promised a ticket to the Army. "Seemingly ordinary people," .says the author, "who might otherwise have lived seemingly ordinary lives did in fact have extraordinary experiences during wartime." Those terrifying experiences began for many at Pearl Harbor and only ended with Japan's surrender. The survivors who tell their tales here had their gripes, of course, and they still nourish them. They remember anecdotes, too, and black humor burnished with years of retelling. Whether they made the Navy a career or became civilians again as soon as they could, they recall their service with unalloyed pride. However young they were when they enlisted, they came home men. A few years ago, one such veteran who talked his way into uniform at 14 met an officer he had served under and asked "why they had put a juvenile like me in charge of a boat and a gun crew where hundreds of lives might be at risk. He said 'At your age we felt you were too young to be scared and would act without giving too much thought to it.' He may have been right."

Author Interview with Bruce Petty

Review by Lt. Col. Richard Seaman, USMCR-Ret, Proceedings  

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Last Updated
October 23, 2019

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