China Marine Review

China Marine
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China Marine ReviewE. B. Sledge's "With the Old Breed" is by common consent one of the finest -- if not the finest -- account of the life of a combat infantryman in World War II. At Pelieu and Okinawa, Sledge was one of only 10 men in his Marine company of 240 to escape being wounded or killed. "China Marine" is the follow-up to "With the Old Breed," a lesser work but one that tells of what happened to Sledge after the war.
With Sledge's experience, one would have thought that he would have been among the first among the military to be demobilized after the end of the war with Japan -- but no, he and his colleagues were sent to China to disarm the Japanese soldiers there and to maintain order in several northern Chinese cities. This is Sledge's account of the six months he spent in China. His view is that of a Private First Class -- but an educated and sophisticated PFC, the son of a medical doctor from Mobile, Alabama, and an outstanding writer. He delighted in Peking, fresh food, a clean bunk, light duties, and friendship with the sophisticated Soong family -- but the danger from attack by communist armies was always there.
Sledge goes on to tell of the trauma of his discharge from the Marines and homecoming to Mobile and, very briefly, his long years of struggle with what we call today Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. It's a brief book, only 160 pages, and am interesting, beautifully written, account of the decompression of a combat soldier and his return home.
Sledge died in 2001 but he was often quoted in Ken Burn's recent PBS series on World War II. Sledge is a true American hero.
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