Their Backs against the Sea
The battle of Saipan lasted twenty-five hellish days in the summer of 1944, and the stakes couldn't have been higher. If Japan lost possession of the island, all hope for victory would be lost. For the Americans, the island was the only obstacle between them and the Japanese mainland. The outcome of the war in the Pacific was in the balance.Their Backs against the Sea fuses fresh interviews, oral histories, and unpublished accounts into a fast-paced narrative of the Battle of Saipan. Combining grunt's-view grit with big-picture panorama (and one of the ugliest inter-service controversies of the war), this is the definitive dramatic story of one of the war's toughest and most overlooked battles— and an inspiring chronicle of some of the greatest acts of valor in American military history.

Their Backs against the Sea Details

TitleTheir Backs against the Sea
Author
FormatHardcover
ReleaseJun 13th, 2017
PublisherDa Capo Press
ISBN0306824728
ISBN-139780306824722
Number of pages288 pages
Rating
GenreWar, Military, World War II

Their Backs against the Sea Review

  • TR Peterson
    June 24, 2017
    It is often the case that the lesser known battles of World War Two can have an impact far beyond what has been originally recognized. This was the case with the 25-day Battle of Saipan covered in Their Backs Against the Sea. Though the fighting on Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal are more recognized and discussed, without the taking of Saipan and its important location, future battles would likely not have been successful. Taking control of the island and paving the way for the B-29 bombers to get clos It is often the case that the lesser known battles of World War Two can have an impact far beyond what has been originally recognized. This was the case with the 25-day Battle of Saipan covered in Their Backs Against the Sea. Though the fighting on Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal are more recognized and discussed, without the taking of Saipan and its important location, future battles would likely not have been successful. Taking control of the island and paving the way for the B-29 bombers to get closer mainland Japan was of vital strategic importance.Texas historian Bill Sloan weaves together first hand accounts from veterans of the battle as they make their way from various small town across the United States to the hell of the Pacific War. Their accounts add a folksy humanity to the details of the chaos of war. Their recollections of acts of extreme valor in a nonchalant way make you grateful for their humble sacrifice.Sloan delves into disagreements between the leaders of the Marines and Army (both named Smith) before noting that the previously maligned 27th Division fought with tremendous heroism in the July 7th, 1944 banzai attack. This serves as the pinnacle of the story and provides the reader with the best writing of the book.The massive banzai attack where 4,000 Japanese troops descended on American lines, was carried out by the Japanese as a last ditch effort to die in the service of their emperor, honor intact. They vowed to kill 7 American servicemen for every one of those killed on their side and fought ferociously to the death. Even if they didn’t have a weapon, they would pick up a shovel or a stick and walk directly towards US troops. Those unable to continue committed suicide.As the Americans get pushed further and further with Their Backs Against the Sea it becomes harder to fathom how they not only survived but triumphed. Tale after tale of US servicemen hanging on through the onslaught, watching friends die and wondering if they themselves were next makes it clear what a close run thing winning the battle actually was. If the Battle of Saipan had been lost, it would have altered the course of the Pacific War and may have resulted in it being extended. Thankfully due to the heroism, sacrifice and determination of American forces the battle and the war itself were soon won.As Sloan himself notes in the Acknowledgements, many of those who gave first hand accounts for this book have since passed away. If anything, it’s another important reason to read this history, to give new life to their experiences and to make sure they live on.
    more
  • WW2 Reads
    June 24, 2017
    It is often the case that the lesser known battles of World War Two can have an impact far beyond what has been originally recognized. This was the case with the 25-day Battle of Saipan covered in Their Backs Against the Sea. Though the fighting on Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal are more recognized and discussed, without the taking of Saipan and its important location, future battles would likely not have been successful. Taking control of the island and paving the way for the B-29 bombers to get clos It is often the case that the lesser known battles of World War Two can have an impact far beyond what has been originally recognized. This was the case with the 25-day Battle of Saipan covered in Their Backs Against the Sea. Though the fighting on Iwo Jima and Guadalcanal are more recognized and discussed, without the taking of Saipan and its important location, future battles would likely not have been successful. Taking control of the island and paving the way for the B-29 bombers to get closer mainland Japan was of vital strategic importance.Texas historian Bill Sloan weaves together first hand accounts from veterans of the battle as they make their way from various small town across the United States to the hell of the Pacific War. Their accounts add a folksy humanity to the details of the chaos of war. Their recollections of acts of extreme valor in a nonchalant way make you grateful for their humble sacrifice.Sloan delves into disagreements between the leaders of the Marines and Army (both named Smith) before noting that the previously maligned 27th Division fought with tremendous heroism in the July 7th, 1944 banzai attack. This serves as the pinnacle of the story and provides the reader with the best writing of the book.The massive banzai attack where 4,000 Japanese troops descended on American lines, was carried out by the Japanese as a last ditch effort to die in the service of their emperor, honor intact. They vowed to kill 7 American servicemen for every one of those killed on their side and fought ferociously to the death. Even if they didn’t have a weapon, they would pick up a shovel or a stick and walk directly towards US troops. Those unable to continue committed suicide.As the Americans get pushed further and further with Their Backs Against the Sea it becomes harder to fathom how they not only survived but triumphed. Tale after tale of US servicemen hanging on through the onslaught, watching friends die and wondering if they themselves were next makes it clear what a close run thing winning the battle actually was. If the Battle of Saipan had been lost, it would have altered the course of the Pacific War and may have resulted in it being extended. Thankfully due to the heroism, sacrifice and determination of American forces the battle and the war itself were soon won.As Sloan himself notes in the Acknowledgements, many of those who gave first hand accounts for this book have since passed away. If anything, it’s another important reason to read this history, to give new life to their experiences and to make sure they live on.
    more
Write a review