In 1944 Sledge landed on the beach at Peleliu in 1944 as a twenty-year-old new recruit to the US Marines. Involved in combat both there and at Okinawa, where ‘the world was a nightmare of flashes, explosions, and snapping bullets’, he witnessed first-hand two of the fiercest and filthiest Pacific battles of the Second World War.
Based on notes Sledge secretly kept hidden in a copy of the Bible, With The Old Breed captures with simplicity and honesty the horrendous conditions he, and his fellow marines, endured in this relentless theatre of war. From the heat and incessant rain, to debilitating tropical diseases and the ubiquitous jungle rot that ate away leather, canvas and flesh, Sledge describes the dehumanising horror of living with ever-present death.
Philosophical and dignified, With The Old Breed also reflects candidly on the struggle to remain human in the face of unthinkable depravity. Sledge’s hatred for the brutality of the Japanese never blinds him to their shared horrible fate of being joined together in death on Pacific beaches, nor prevents him from recognising that his fellow marines sometimes committed similar savagery.
Detailing his own journey from patriotic innocence to battle-scarred veteran, Sledge's memoir is a graphic account of war in the Pacific and a moving reflection on the senselessness of war.
E. B. Sledge was born in Mobile, Alabama. In late 1943 he enlisted in the U.S. Marine Corps, and was then sent to the Pacific where he fought at Peleliu and Okinawa. After returning from the war he immediately began working on a book based on the notes he had taken while posted in the Pacific theatre, which became With the Old Breed. Sledge joined the biology faculty of Alabama College, where he taught until his retirement. Sledge died on March 3rd, 2001. See Wikipedia for his full biography.