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World War II's Great Forgotten Battlegrounds
  • ISBN/SKU: 9781612514710
  • Binding: Hardcover & eBook
  • Era:
  • Number of Pages: 312
  • Subject: World War II
  • Date Available: May 2014
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BOOK NEWS: South Pacific Cauldron: World War II's Great Forgotten Battlegrounds by Naval Institute Press



SNEAK PEEK: South Pacific Cauldron: World War II's Great Forgotten Battlefields by Naval Institute Press

  • Watch Alan Rems "Eight Bells Lecture" at the Naval War College Museum, here.

Praise for South Pacific Cauldron ~

South Pacific Cauldron is a first-rate account of the brutal and important fighting that occurred in the Solomon Islands and New Guinea during World War II. By examining the campaign from the American, Australian, and Japanese perspectives, Alan Rems provides military history buffs with a fine starting point for the overlooked military operations in one of the world’s most hostile environments.”

—Stephen R. Taaffe, author of Marshall and His Generals: U.S. Army Commanders in World War II and MacArthur's Jungle War: The 1944 New Guinea Campaign

“For decades the history of the Guadalcanal campaign has dominated the South Pacific literature available to new generations of readers. But there was much more to the fighting in that area, as Alan Rems demonstrates in this well-researched history of a major theater of World War II. The fighting against a determined Japanese enemy was complicated by the command issues involving not only American interservice cooperation, but also those with Allies, notably Australia. Air and sea power were valuable contributors to the capture of island after island and to eventual victory.”

Paul Stillwell, naval historian and author of The Golden Thirteen: Reflections of the First Black Naval Officers and Submarine Stories: Recollections from the Diesel Boats

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While the Pacific War has been widely studied by military historians and venerated in popular culture through movies and other media, the fighting in the South Pacific theater has, with few exceptions, been remarkably neglected. Worthy of remembrance no less than Wake Island, Leyte Gulf, and Tarawa are the great unsung battlefields of Buna, Shaggy Ridge, and the Driniumor River on New Guinea, as well as the torpedo-infested waters off New Georgia; and the deadly skies over Rabaul and Wewak.

Authoritative, yet written in a highly readable narrative style, South Pacific Cauldron is the first complete history embracing all land, sea and air operations in this critically important sector of that oceanic war. Unlike most other World War II accounts, this work covers the South Pacific operations in detail, including the little-known final Australian campaigns that continued until the Japanese surrender.

Author Alan Rems breathes life into the major figures of the South Pacific campaigns, including brilliant and imperious General Douglas MacArthur, audacious and profane Admiral William “Bull” Halsey, and bibulous and indelicate Australian General Thomas Blamey. No less interesting are others that will be mostly new to readers, including many from the Japanese side, like the indomitable generals Noboru Sasaki and Hatazo Adachi. As for the fighting men, many of their stories are captured in accounts of the actions for which some were awarded the Medal of Honor, Victoria Cross, and other decorations for valor.

South Pacific Cauldron’s story is enhanced with 16 maps and 40 photographs, many rarely seen, that were carefully chosen from official American and Australian sources. The book includes a detailed chronology to put the widely separated operations in context and a detailed bibliography for additional reading on the subject.

Alan Rems, a retired CPA, has been a regular contributor to Naval History magazine since his first writing effort that earned the U.S. Naval Institute’s 2008 Author of the Year award. He lives with his wife, a retired newspaper managing editor, in Centreville, Virginia.

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“Rems often offers critical analysis of the decisions made by these and other officers, and readers will find particularly interesting questions he raises about the necessity of a number of operations, such as Bougainville or the continuation of major operations in the theatre after the fall of the Philippines, which he concludes were not only ill-conceived, but a waste of time, materiel, and most tragically men. South Pacific Cauldron is an important contribution to the literature of the Pacific War.”


“Readers already familiar with the war in the Pacific and newcomers alike will find this a great one-volume condensation of the South Pacific campaign. Rems explains the operations lucidly, giving clear and concise accounts of both friendly and enemy activities. His evaluations of the commanders on both sides and their principal lieutenants are frank but balanced. The controversies between allies and even between branches of service are carefully dissected and explained. This well-rounded presentation is an excellent book that no CAMP member should fail to read.”

- Journal of America’s Military Past

“Award-winning author Alan Rems brilliantly tells of the ground, naval, and air campaigns against the Japanese during World War II, from 1942 to 1945, in the South Pacific, a region long overlooked by public interest but equally as important as the more famous battles in the Central Pacific. Rems offers both the big picture and the foxhole view of bloody warfare in the jungles and mountains....”

- Military Officer

“Alan Rems adds breadth and context to our understanding of World War II’s South Pacific campaigns in an accessible, highly readable and well-packaged book that is especially timely given the approach of the 70th anniversary of VJ (Victory over Japan) Day.”

- Military Review

“Rems has produced a remarkably well-written work on the hard-won victories achieved by the Allies in the South Pacific.  South Pacific Cauldron is a fitting tribute to the men who fought and died in an often overlooked theater of World War II. As such, it is a welcome addition to our knowledge of World War II in the Pacific Theater.”

- On Point: The Journal of Army History

"This is an old-fashioned military history with hard-bitten commanders, heroism, and small-unit engagements.  The overall hero is Admiral William F. Halsey, whose performance Rems considers 'brilliant.'  The author provides a valuable service in presenting an overview of the South Pacific campaign in one compact volume."


"Mr. Rems' coverage of the Battle of Milne Bay, which marked the first defeat of the Japanese on land, is first rate. His other reports on other less well-known battles are equally accurate. An inspiring, brilliantly researched and written history."

- Ausmarine Magazine

"Written in a narrative style accessible to readers of all backgrounds, South Pacific Cauldron is a complete history of all World War II battles and conflicts that took place in the South Pacific Cauldron region, including numerous little-known operations such as the final Australian campaign.  A handful of black-and-white maps and photographs as well as notes, a bibliography, and an index round out this invaluable contribution to military and world history shelves."

- The Midwest Book Review

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