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realclearworld

The Pacific: a post-mortem

Many years ago, when my wife was still in the banking biz, she had a colleague who we became friendly with. He was a World War II veteran, a Jew who fought in the ETO. He told us some harrowing stories. The line I'll always remember, though, was that as bad as he and buddies had it, during the Bulge, the final push for liberation, among the campaigns he fought in, he gave thanks to the Almighty he wasn't sent to fight in the Pacific.

Our good bud Maggie at Infidels Paradise. has written a superb review of HBO's series The Pacific that ended last night on HBO. A lot of the thoughts I had while watching the ten parts are covered in her piece. Let me add that I think this series could have been a lot better had it not been for a lot of post-modernist PC mumbo-jumbo the writers decided to add. I've just started Eugene Sledge's book, With the Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa, so I can decide how far the writers really went astray.

Much has been and is being written about HBO’s current WWII endeavor. Some in praise, some in condemnation, and others in disappointment.

Tonight is the last episode of HBO’s mini series “The Pacific”, following the experiences of several Marines in the PTO during WWII. Their brutal battles as the US Marines went from small, unknown island to island on somewhat of a steppingstone mission to reach the goal of either forcing the Japanese Empire to surrender, or defeating them by outlasting the horrific conditions and deadly battles of the islands war.

Those of us who are huge fans of the first HBO series, Band of Brothers (BoB), have been of two separate thought processes of this current mini series. Those who have approached “The Pacific” on its own and understand fully the complete difference between the PTO and the ETO in WWII … and those of us who can’t help but use Band of Brothers as the “gold standard” by which to measure The Pacific. I am guilty of such, and have adjusted my thinking as I re-watch each episode to measure it on its own merit. Realizing the stark differences between the two theaters of operation was not hard to recognize and acknowledge.

4 comments to The Pacific: a post-mortem

  • jsb

    "...could have been a lot better had it not been for a lot of post-modernist PC mumbo-jumbo the writers decided to add."

    Indeed.

  • Band of Brothers was based on a book by Stephen Ambrose, a brilliant historian. The Pacific, however, was based on a two books written by soldiers who were there and a compilation, I believe, written by Hugh Ambrose, Stephen Ambrose's son.

    In my humble opinion, the difference between these two screen adaptations is the books they're based on.

    • I'm reading Sledge's memoir and am at the part after graduation from boot camp. Nowhere yet have I read the "heart murmur" incident portrayed in Episode 1. That doesn't mean it's not true, just that Sledge's book doesn't even touch on it.

      Although the source material may be part of the problem, the series as a whole just felt forced to me and too rushed. The scriptwriters are to blame. They spent three episodes on Peleliu -- a major battle, no doubt -- and then spent hardly any time on the two most important battles the USMC fought in the Pacific: Iwo Jima and Okinawa. Then, throughout all the episodes they were hammering the "racist" point over and over and over again. It got real old real fast. I've read a lot of books on WW2 history and this is the first time the "Jap" race issue has been so relentlessly put forward. What these filmmakers forgot is that their industry, Hollywood, demonized the Japanese a lot during the war years. All you have to do is watch a few movies that take place in the Pacific or CBI theaters to see the stereotypes running amok.

      Physicians heal thyselves...