Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War (1980)

by William Manchester

Labeling this book as a memoir is a bit misleading. 

It is more of a travelogue as William Manchester visits WWII battlegrounds in order to come to terms with his experiences as a combat Marine in the Pacific War.


William Manchester

There is a lot of description of these sites as they appeared at the time of writing and quite a bit about the local lifestyle.


Some of this is interesting and all of it is well-written, but it is not what brought me to the book in the first place.


Manchester's accounts of life on the front lines and the many battles he was in are the strong points of this book.


This is five-star material, very harrowing, graphic, and insightful.


He also comes across as quite honest, since he often portrays himself in an unflattering light.


The sections about his upbringing and other non-military experiences are much less successful; he often seems to strain for effect, trying to emphasize the universal significance of his life experiences.


"Goodbye, Darkness! Memories of the Pacific War" (Romanian)

My biggest problem with the book--and it proved to be a constant annoyance throughout the narrative--was the disrespectful way he referred to the Japanese. He is honest enough to admit that he has never gotten over his antipathy toward them, and I can understand that. I can even accept the use of derogatory terms when he is writing "in the moment" about combat, replicating his state of mind at that time. However, there are many extended passages in which Manchester writes about the war from the perspective of a historian, and even these sections, which should be more objective, are liberally sprinkled with terms like "Nip" and "Jap." Again, I appreciate Manchester's honesty about his dislike of the Japanese. Unfortunately, he doesn't seem to treat this as something to work past and avoid inflicting on others.


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