The Ghosts of Iwo Jima
Robert S. Burrell. College Station, TX: Texas A&M University Press, 2006. 280 pp. Illus. Maps. Index . $29.95.
Reviewed by Thomas B. Allen
Time and again during World War II in the Pacific, U.S. forces successfully landed on enemy beaches and fought their way to victory. Images of Marines storming Japanese-held islands dominated newsreel and news paper coverage of those battles. And one image—six Marines raising the flag atop Mount Suribachi on blood-drenched Iwo Jima—became the war's supreme icon.
To anyone who knows anything about the battle for Iwo Jima, the island has an almost sacred aura. Admiral Chester W. Nimitz's tribute—"Uncommon Valor was a Common Virtue"—became the epitaph for the thousands of Marines who fell in one of the most dearly won battles of the war.
Now, 62 years later, The Ghosts of Iwo Jima asks whether that invasion was necessary, whether the generals and admirals who planned it were inspired more by inter-service rivalry than by strategy, and whether horrific Marine casualty figures were deceptively manipulated.