Anyone caught complaining about modern life will be forced to read William Manchester’s “Goodbye, Darkness.” This is a memoir of the Pacific War, the half of WWII that gets far less press than the other, Nazi half. The war in the Pacific was a slaughter running in both directions twenty-four hours a day. Both sides, at times, lost thousands of soldiers in single-day battles. Blunt force against blunt force, dug in Japanese troops with a banzai mentality facing battalions of Marines and Army units ordered to take sacred ground. A recipe for destruction.
Manchester, who went on to have a very successful writing career, post war, is a wonderful writer. Sure, there are terms used that would never be allowed today, and rightly so, but they don’t overwhelm the narrative. These terms are of time and place. I heard the same from my father-in-law, a survivor of Pork Chop Hill in Korea. Manchester is brutally honest and shares insight into odd moments of fear, death, chance and preservation.
Luck, training and undeniable will that would make most of us modern humans wet ourselves. Severely wounded but alive, Manchester was awarded the Purple Heart and promoted to sergeant. The author returns to the battles of his youth, writing about both the residue and war and the reality of time heals all. Get it, read it. (Read all of his work.)