(Ballantine, $28.00, 480 pages, ISBN 978-0-345-49794-9)
I don’t know about you, but I’m not a huge fan of some modern devices, cell phones being at the top of my personal (we hates them) list, so I’m slow to adopt a lot of the newest “must-have” gadgets and doo-dahs smart young folks are coming up with these days. But, like automatic transmissions in cars, we don’t have to understand them to enjoy and use them effectively. A case in point; we just bought two Kindle e-readers for June and myself . . . and they’re great! We love them! Wish we’d done it a while ago. But we’ll never give up real books either.
Why am I telling you all this? Because a certain retired U.S. Air Force officer, for whom I have a very high regard, has been after me for a few weeks now to review a book about World War II by an author named Jeff Shaara, “so all the young adults like my teenage “hired men” will get excited and maybe read it and learn something . . . about what their grandfathers went through for all of us . . . so they won’t take all of our freedoms for granted, and they’ll learn some history too.”
I couldn’t argue with that. And since he’s been a friend for some fifty years now . . . how could I ever refuse? So, hot off my brand-new, just-out-of-the-box Kindle, is the mysterious Book Report No. 14. It’s for you Mikey, and each and every one of you young, up-and-comers too.
The Final Storm is the final book in his World War II series, and it’s about the invasion and fight for the island of Okinawa, just three hundred miles from the Japanese Mainland. It would be a vital staging area for the eventual invasion of Japan, which was then being planned. After the fight for Saipan . . . where Japanese women, some of whom were mothers with their babies and children in hand, destroyed themselves by leaping from a 300 foot cliff rather than surrender; and the just-won American victory on the island of Iwo Jima, where the US casualty list was so huge the top brass didn’t release it to the press for fear of public outrage, where the Japanese soldiers either fought to the death or killed themselves with such fanaticism that of the 20,000 who defended the island, only 300 survived and surrendered . . . the U.S. Generals were expecting the fight on the main islands of Japan to take every soldier they had in uniform . . . and they were expecting one million US casualties. Okinawa would be the place where the massive army would be assembled. It would be the jump-off place. The place where the final push would begin. But first, it had to be captured, which is the basis for the book, as seen through the eyes of Marine Private Clay Adams, beginning a few days before the invasion, and with cameo appearances with insights by Admiral Chester Nimitz, President Harry Truman, and General Mitsuro Ushijima who commanded the Japanese forces on the island.
The book is well-researched and written. It’s chock-full of history and exciting action. Suitable for early teens and up, highly recommended, as are all the WWII books by Shaara. They are: No Less Than Victory, The Steel Wave and The Rising Tide. They’re all available at your local library, although you may have to wait your turn to check them out. They’re well worth reading instead of spending all your time with a mind-numbing video game. You’ll learn a lot more too.