CORAL AND BRASS
General Holland M. Smith, USMC
& Percy Finch
Battery Press, 1989. Reprinted
from the Scribners 1949 edition. NEW, still in shrinkwrap. Hardcover.
Gilt lettering & decorations on green boards. Eagle, globe & anchor
on front cover & spine. Frontispiece, index, 287 pp. "One of the most
important, picturesque and controversial figures of WWII, 'Howlin' Mad'
Smith here tells his story--and the story of the Marine Corps' magnificent
achievement in the war with Japan. General Smith was big brass himself:
pioneer in amphibious warfare, commanding general at Tarawa, Saipan and
Iwo Jima, eventually commander of all Marine land operations against Japan.
But he has not been inhibited by the chilly altitude of the high echelons.
His book possesses all the explosive vigor and forthrightness that have
made 'Howlin' Mad' Smith famous. He pulls no punches in demanding full
recognition for his beloved Marines. The major part of this book deals
with the Pacific War; and when General Smith describes a campaign, it is
no military-textbook account; it is a fighting man's story. You won't forget
his account of the Saipan battle or his picture of the bloody beaches of
Tarawa. Whenever the General thinks mistakes were made, he says so-- frequently
with blistering effect. He says that the seizure of Tarawa was unnecessary;
that time and again the Navy failed to prepare the way for invasion with
sufficient bombardment; that Admirals who wanted to act as Generals imperilled
victory in the coral islands. In describing the long-suppressed controversy
over Saipan, when he removed the Army's General Ralph Smith from his command,
the General claims that the episode has been magnified out of all proportion
by inter-Service jealousies. 'Howlin' Mad' Smith has always stood up for
his Marines. Since WWI he has fought to win for the Marines equal participation
with other branches of the service. It was a battle to obtain support for
the revolutionary methods of amphibious invasion worked out by the Marines
before the war-- a battle against traditionalism, stupidity and apathy
on the part of the big brass. How the technique of assaulting supposedly
impregnable beaches was developed makes an absorbing story. The portrait
of a great fighting man emerges from these pages-- a man who typifies the
spirit of the Marine Corps."