List Price: $ 15.00
Save 25 % off List Price
1942 : The Year That Tried Men's Souls
From the author of Forrest Gump and A Storm in Flanders, a riveting chronicle of America's most critical hour
To the generation of Americans who lived through it, the Second World War was the defining event of the twentieth century, and the defining events of that war were played out in the year 1942.
It was a time when unexpected attack on American territory pulled an unprepared country into a terrifying new brand of warfare with a ruthless enemy. Soon after Japan's attack on Pearl Harbor, German U-boats were sinking hundreds of U.S. merchant ships, some right off the American coast. In the Pacific, Japan's army and navy far outmatched those of the United States and was threatening the American mainland from Alaska to the Panama Canal. The beginning of 1942 was a relentless cataract of defeats. The Japanese annihilated MacArthur's 130,000-man army in the Philippines and set into motion the infamous "Death March" on Bataan. Hong Kong fell, followed by Malaya, with its vast natural resources, and then Singapore itself. By May, it appeared to many that the entire Western Pacific, including Australia, would be in Japanese hands.
Then, in June, the tide began to turn. Off Midway Island, aided by new technologies in code cracking, Admiral Chester Nimitz commanded his outnumbered fleet to victory in one of the most decisive sea battles in naval history. In August, the United States landed the first marine division on the desolate island of Guadalcanal in the Solomon Islands, where by the end of the year, despite devastating naval setbacks and lack of material, they would finally destroy the enemy army and pave the way for the famous island-hopping strategy to recapture the Philippines. In the West, the British defeated Rommel's panzer divisions at El Alamein and the U.S. Army landed in Algeria and Morocco to begin the push to force the Germans out of North Africa. Though it would take another three years to run the Axis beast to the ground, a year that began in a pall of uncertainty would end with the hope and vision of victory.
In this riveting account, acclaimed novelist and historian Winston Groom relates the story of 1942 as it has never been told before, with an accomplished storyteller's eye for the time's fascinating tales and characters--from the great leaders of the twentieth century to war heroes such as General Jimmy Doolittle, who led a daring revenge raid on Tokyo, to lesser known but equally fascinating characters such as Claire "High Pockets" Phillips, an attractive actress and dancer who, after her husband was killed while a prisoner of war, used the nightclub she ran in Manila to front a spy-and-supply ring that got desperately needed items into the POW camps and probed Japanese intelligence officers for vital information.
Allowing us into the admirals' strategy rooms, onto the battle fronts, and into the heart of a nation at war, 1942 tells the story of America's most critical hour--a year of perseverance, courage, and ingenuity in the face of great odds, during which America rose against adversity and displayed the qualities that have made her what she is to this day.
Forrest Gump novelist Groom offers another of his nonfiction labors of love, centering his story of a pivotal year on the war against Japan. No revisionist, Groom delivers the traditional worshipful portrait of General MacArthur while admitting he made several key blunders that doomed the Philippines in the year's early months. In May the two fleets met in the Coral Sea. While the Japanese came out ahead, they abandoned their invasion of New Guinea, and Groom follows the standard account of calling it an American victory. He adds that brains and luck win more battles than courage, providing a perfect illustration in Midway, fought in June 1942. Having broken Japan's naval code, American forces surprised a vastly superior Japanese fleet and sank all four of its carriers. In August, the First Marine Division was deposited on an obscure island, Guadalcanal, then hastily retreated. For the next four months, in what is the book's highlight, the marines fought with epic heroism against repeated efforts to expel them. Almost as an afterthought, Groom shows American forces taking their first step against Germany, landing in North Africa in November and quickly bogging down. Heroism was not in short supply, but much of it occurred in 1943. A talented writer, Groom has written a page-turner; readers needing an introduction will love it. Agent, Theron Raines. (May)
Copyright (c) Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
There are no customer reviews available at this time. Would you like to write a review?
April 02, 2006
Number of Print Pages*
Adobe DRM EPUB
* Number of eBook pages may differ. Click here for more information.
Excerpt from 1942 by Winston Groom
World War II descended on planet earth as swift and deadly as a desert whirlwind, but the forces that unleashed its terrible power had been building beyond the horizon for years. Whole libraries exist to house only the books that grapple with the roots and causes but, as most wars do, it boils down to three simple things: pride, property, and power--and two more complicated things: prejudice and persecution. With this in mind I believe it is useful for readers of this story to have an appreciation, however abbreviated, of the events leading up to the critical year of 1942, and in that spirit a concise narration is offered.
Germany's role of instigating the conflict is better understood than that of the Japanese. The Nazi militarists had arisen bitter and venomous from the bones and ashes of the First World War, convinced that they had been stabbed in the back by their own cowardly politicians and the Jews--these latter perceived as either communists (the poorer ones) or war profiteers (the rich). Added to that was the loathing that practically all Germans felt over the terms of the Treaty of Versailles, which the Allied Powers, principally France and England, imposed upon Germany following the armistice of 1918. Among other things, this document stripped the Germans of 25,000 square miles of their territory, which included vast amounts of its raw materials such as coal, ores, and oil, as well as all of its overseas colonies and practically all of its military armaments. Most gallingly, it required the German people to pay "war reparations" to the victors to the tune of many billions of dollars. Germany struggled under these conditions, plagued by labor strikes (ultimately, so they claimed, forced on them by the Jews) and other internal strife, for the next ten years.
Then in 1929 the American stock market crashed, setting into motion a worldwide economic depression. In Germany, monetary inflation at one point reached such stupendous proportions that a mere loaf of bread cost a million or more German marks! At the normal ratio of four marks to the dollar, this was devastating, and many Germans saw their life's savings wiped out almost overnight.*
Finally there was the matter of German honor. Up until the very moment in 1918 when the Germans sought an armistice, that nation's people were persuaded by its leaders and the press to believe that they were only a few footsteps away from total victory. News of their defeat came as an unbelievable shock. This was where the stabbed-in-the-back theory came into play. The American army had arrived on the scene in force just six months before the cease-fire was requested by Germany, but the American commander in chief, General John J. Pershing, was all for marching into Berlin anyway, herding the German army before him with all of its soldiers' hands in the air.
This was the only way, Pershing declared, that the German people would believe they had been beaten. But France and Britain, exhausted by four years of slaughter in the trenches of the Western Front, disagreed about further military action, and their view prevailed. Thus the Germans increasingly came to think that they had not been beaten at all, but had been betrayed by dishonorable politicians (backed by Jews) who gave up the fight before victory could be won. Humiliation is a stern taskmaster, and the Germans had long memories. Thus some historians, and many others, are of the opinion that the Second World War was merely an extension of the First World War, with a twenty-year "rest period" in between.
Into this combustible mix entered Adolf Hitler, a cranky aspiring Austrian artist who had served as a corporal in the German army from 1914 to 1918. Having been decorated with the Iron Cross, Hitler emerged from the First World War even more bitter than most of the rest of his adopted countrymen. By 1922 he had assembled about him a clique of like-minded people who called themselves Nazis (National Socialist Party) and who distributed pamphlets such as Bolshevism from Moses to Lenin, which attempted to prove that "Judaism was the great destructive force which had ruined Western Civilization." Psychiatrists have diagnosed Hitler's case history as that of a "psychopathic escapist type with a complex effecting megalomania." Historians smugly described him as someone who had "escaped from his case history into world history, before the psychiatrists got him."
The Nazis were a disturbing grab bag of thugs, criminals, zealots, and dupes aided by not a few misguided aristocrats and otherwise intelligent people such as General Erich Ludendorff, who had masterminded the German army in World War I and nearly engineered a German victory in 1918.