A Times History Book of the Year 2022
From Sunday Times bestselling historian Saul David, the dramatic tale of the first American troops to take the fight to the enemy in the Second World War, and also the last.
The ‘Devil Dogs’ of K Company, 3/5 Marines, were part of the legendary first Marine Division. They landed on the beaches of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands in 1942 – the first US ground offensive of the war – and were present when Okinawa, Japan’s most southerly prefecture, finally fell to American troops after a bitter struggle in June 1945. In between they fought in the ‘Green Hell’ of Cape Gloucester on the island of New Britain, and across the coral wasteland of Peleliu in the Palau Islands, a campaign described by one K Company veteran as ‘thirty days of the meanest, around-the-clock slaughter that desperate men can inflict on each other.’
Ordinary men from very different backgrounds, and drawn from cities, towns, and settlements across America, the Devil Dogs were asked to do something extraordinary: take on the victorious Imperial Japanese Army, composed of some of the most effective soldiers in world history – and defeat it. This is the story of how they did just that and, in the process, forged bonds of brotherhood that still survive today.
Remarkably, the company contained an unusually high number of talented writers, whose first-hand accounts and memoirs provide the colour, emotion, and context for this extraordinary story. In Devil Dogs, award-winning historian Saul David sets the searing experience of K Company into the broader context of the brutal war in the Pacific and does for the U.S. Marines what Band of Brothers did for the 101st Airborne.