China Marine is the long-awaited sequel to E. B. Sledge's critically acclaimed memoir, With the Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa.
Picking up where his previous memoir leaves off, Sledge, a young marine in the First Division, traces his company's movements and charts his own "difficult passage to peace" following his horrific experiences of battle in the Pacific Theater.
He reflects on his north China duty in the ancient city of Peiping - now Beijing - and recounts the difficulty of returning to his hometown of Mobile, Alabama, and resuming civilian life haunted by the shadows of close combat.
Distinguished historians have praised Sledge's first book as the definitive rifleman's account of World War II, ranking it with the Civil War's Red Badge of Courage and World War I's All Quiet on the Western Front.
Although With the Old Breed ends with the surrender of Japan, marines in the Pacific were still faced with the mission of disarming the immense Japanese forces on the Asian mainland and reestablishing order. For infantrymen so long engaged in the savage and surreal world of close combat, there remained the personal tasks of regaining normalcy and dealing with suppressed memories, fears, and guilt.
In China Marine, E. B. Sledge completes his story and provides emotional closure to the scarring events detailed in his first memoir.
Through burgeoning friendships with a Chinese physician and his wife and with a Flemish priest and former prisoner of the Japanese, Sledge experiences compassion, care, and culturally rich evenings of food, conversation, and classical music.
He speaks frankly about the real costs of war, emotional and psychological as well as physical, and explains the lifetime loyalties that develop between men who face fear, loss, and horror together.
That knowing bond becomes one of the newfound treasures of life after battle.
With his hallmark style of simplicity, directness, and lack of sentimentality, "Sledgehammer" has given us yet another great document of war literature.