Wednesday, June 30, 2010

From the Pages - Last Man Standing: The 1st Marine Regiment on Peleliu

Perhaps no singular battle illustrates the horror of combat in the Pacific War better than what was experienced on Peleliu. It was on this desolate coral island that approximately 11,000 determined Japanese soldiers waged a bloody and furious defense against the legendary 1st Marine Division in September, 1944. 

In the following excerpt from Last Man Standing, Dick Camp details the horrifying Japanese counter-attacks that occurred during the late-night hours of D-Day.


As dusk approached, there was furious activity all along the Marine lines. Russell Davis noticed worried-looking NCOs and officers scurrying about encouraging the men to “Dig in, dig deep. Get the wire out.” Machine guns were brought forward and carefully positioned to provide overlapping fields of fire. Company and battalion mortar squads registered their weapons on likely approaches to the front lines. Artillery and naval gunfire observers memorized target numbers so they could call for fire in the darkness. Everyone knew the Japanese were coming and dreaded to hear them screech “banzai” as they launched human wave assaults. “Dusk had come and visibility was closed down to a few dozen feet,” Russell Davis remembered; “The smoke, settling in the hollows behind the bank, helped to make it darker.” George McMillan wrote: “The hours of tension and danger did not stop with dusk; every man lay taut in his shallow foxhole through the night, beseeching the sun to hurry, to restore to the battlefield its bright, accustomed focus.”

Nowhere was it more tense than on the Point. All afternoon the Japanese had staged scattered infantry and mortar attacks on “K” Company. The Marines held, although more and more men were lost. All the company’s machine guns had been knocked out, and Hunt had resorted to using a captured Japanese heavy machine gun on the lines. Fred Fox had “liberated” it from its dead crew. “I found the air-cooled Hotchkiss in a small clearing; two dead Jap bodies lay alongside it.” He was amazed to find that the two Japanese soldiers were dressed in spotless khaki summer uniforms with wrap leggings and split-toed shoes. They had rank insignia on their collar. “We carried the gun up to the Point,” Fox explained, “and gave it to [Cpl. Robert Anderson] from the machine gun platoon who said, ‘O.K., I’ll take it.’ I had no desire to keep carrying that damn thing anyway.”

Monday, June 28, 2010

New Release - Tales from a Tin Can

by Michael Keith Olson

Pearl Harbor…Midway…Guadalcanal…Guam…Philippine Islands… Okinawa…Japan.

The journey, like the story, of the USS Dale and its sailors is one unlike any other American naval vessel during World War II. As one of the few ships to receive little or no damage during the raid on Pearl Harbor, the Dale survived the entire length of the war largely unscathed and, amazingly, without losing a single crewman to enemy fire. The success of the Dale and her crew, however, was not just a testament to dumb luck. It was also a shining example of determination, duty, and the bonds of soldiers placed together in the belly of war.

Written in the words of those who ate, slept, and fought aboard the USS Dale, Tales from a Tin Can tells the complete story of the ship and her crew from the morning of December 7, 1941 to America’s Pacific Offensive to the Japanese surrender in August of 1945. Author Michael Olson, son of former Dale crewman Robert “Pat” Olson, makes use of extensive research and numerous interviews to piece together the first oral history of a combat ship from the beginning to the end of the U.S. involvement in the war.

With vivid recollections that are equal parts gripping, heart-wrenching, and humorous, Tales from a Tin Can places you onboard the decks of this work-a-day destroyer, providing a complete picture of life on the turbulent waves of war.

Available now at bookstores and online retailers everywhere or at

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Military Snapshots - Infantry of Operation Desert Storm

Two American soldiers stand guard from a slit trench during Operation Desert Storm. Due to the fear that the Iraqi military might employ chemical or biological agents during the conflict, the troops wear protective gear. Photo courtesy of Defense Visual Information Center, from War Stories of the Infantry by Michael Green & James D. Brown.

Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Book Sweepstakes - Road of 10,000 Pains

Are you looking for your next great read? If so, Zenith Press has a book sweepstakes for you!

Told for the first time by author Otto Lehrack, Road of 10,000 Pains is the gritty story of the battles fought within four miles of Route 534 in Vietnam over seven months in 1967. Described in dramatic interviews with more than ninety U.S. Marines who were there, this is the story of the Que Son Valley that has never been told -- one that needed to be told. 

Now, Zenith Press is giving away copies of Road of 10,000 Pains to three randomly selected fans and followers of Zenith Press on Facebook or "Zenith Press...The Blog."

You can enter the contest one of two ways (see below*):

Contest entry:
1) Become a Fan of Zenith Press on Facebook AND
tell us what you believe was the biggest obstacle to an American victory in Vietnam as a comment on the Zenith Press Facebook page (under the contest post).


2) Send us an email with your name and reply email address to “ (at)” AND tell us what you believe was the biggest obstacle to an American victory in Vietnam.

Deadline for entries is 11:59 pm CST on Thursday, July 1, 2010. We will pick the winners on Friday, July 2, 2010.

Learn about future book contests/sweepstakes, exclusive book excerpts, author interviews, photo features, and videos by following Zenith Press’ Facebook page and/or Zenith Press…The Blog!

*Contest Terms and Conditions – This contest is for Road of 10,000 Pains by Otto Lehrack to three (3) contest winners drawn at random. Books will be new and provided by the publisher. All entrants must complete the entry task(s), or in case of any issues an email to (at) One entry per household. All information provided will be kept confidential. Entries must be received by July 1, 2010 at 11:59pm Central Standard Time. Contest winners will be drawn at random and notified after the close of the contest. The books will be shipped directly to the winners. US and Canadian residents only.

Monday, June 21, 2010

From the Pages - War Stories of the Battle of the Bulge

The 99th Infantry Division arrived in Western Europe in November 1944 and was assigned to the quiet Ardennes sector as a place to gain some limited combat experience before being deployed to a more active area of the front. In this excerpt from War Stories of the Battle of the Bulge, Lionel P. Adda (D Company, 393rd Infantry Regiment, 99th Infantry Division) describes how, in a span of a couple of days, he quickly gained more combat experience than he ever had hoped for.

OF ALL MY WORLD WAR II MEMORIES, those of the first few days of the Battle of the Bulge remain the most vivid. On December 16, our positions, which were in a densely wooded area, abutted the international highway at the Belgian-German frontier. Immediately in front was a ditch paralleling the two-lane macadam highway, and beyond there was a cultivated field which offered a field of fire of between 100 and 150 yards. The terrain then dropped off, and the edge of the field was our horizon. By walking about 100 yards to our right, however, we could see the dragon-teeth tank traps beyond the pillboxes of the Siegfried Line.
I was on sentry duty from 4:00 to 6:00 on the morning of December 16. Toward the end of my watch, I saw that the horizon was brightly lit, as if by searchlights. On other occasions there had been some illumination of the sky at night in the direction of the enemy, but it had never been as bright as on this night. I became concerned and considered calling Staff Sergeant Enloe, our platoon sergeant, whose sleeping hole was in the first squad’s area. I hesitated, however, since Sergeant Enloe was a very deep sleeper, and when I had called him on another occasion, I had found it difficult to wake him up. In the meantime I heard conversation about 100 or 150 feet to my right; perhaps with a better view the sentries could discern the reason for the light. On my left, however, all was quiet. Finally, I decided to waken my relief a little early, and for a few minutes we wondered about the light on the horizon. I then entered my sleeping hole, but I recall sensing that this morning there was something wrong. In addition to the light, perhaps subconsciously, the warnings which we had been given recently were contributing to my uneasy feeling. About a week earlier we had been visited by an officer who urged us to improve our fighting holes so that we “would be able to live and fight in them for days, if necessary.” Then came the engineers, who installed trip wires and flares in front of our guns.

Friday, June 18, 2010

Military Snapshots - Omaha Beach Flag Raising

The American flag flies proudly over one of the principal fortifications on Omaha Beach after a hard-won victory. The casualty list for D-Day on Omaha Beach alone numbered 2,881 dead, wounded and missing. Photo courtesy of National Archives and Records Administration, from Normandy: Breaching the Atlantic Wall by Dominique Francois.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

From the Pages - The Clausewitz Delusion

In his new book The Clausewitz Delusion: How the American Army Screwed Up the Wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Stephen L. Melton, a retired army officer and professor at the Command and General Staff College, reveals the failings of the U.S. Army in its adoption of a postmodern “Full Spectrum Operations" doctrine, which codifies Clauswitzian thinking. Within his analysis, Melton contends that offensive wars--those which have largely dominated the past century--generally become wars of attrition by choice of the defender. The attacker may desire a cheap and quick victory, but the defender will resist the attacker as long as he is demographically able to continue fighting. Though the attacker may seek a relatively easy regime change, the defender, protecting his accustomed form of governance, will decide when to finally accede to the occupier’s imposed governance. 

In the following excerpt, Melton cites the example of The Algerian War of Independence as an example of how very few "offensive wars" are ever “permanently” won.

The Algerian War of Independence (1954–1962)

The Algerian war is a particularly interesting study for several reasons. First of all, it culminated a 130-year defense of Algerian sovereignty against French aggression that cycled intermittently through all the defensive strategies: conventional resistance, guerilla war, terrorism, civil disobedience, and passivity. Second, it shows the impermanence of an illiberal occupation based largely on force of arms. Finally, it demonstrates the depth of resistance of which Arab populations are capable.

France first invaded Algeria in 1830 as part of its colonial expansion. This first Algerian war lasted until 1847 and proved so costly to France that France formed the French Foreign Legion in 1831 as a way of deflecting the casualties away from the French citizenry. The restive Algerian Arabs were never completely subdued. Major pacification campaigns lasted through the 1850s, and there were major revolts against French rule in 1873 and 1881. French garrisons were numerous and busy. All told, the French army and the French Foreign Legion suffered perhaps a hundred thousand deaths, mainly from disease, in Algeria during the nineteenth century. Total Arab losses are unknown.

Monday, June 14, 2010

Military Snapshots - Antiemplacement assaults on Iwo Jima

Closely coordinated antiemplacement attacks using combined arms and split-second timing were a significant feature of preassault training for Iwo Jima. The lessons behind the training had come at a high price over the course of the Pacific War. First, one or two flamethrower assaultmen directed their fire at one position, then infantrymen pelted the position with hand grenades and gunfire, and finally demolitions assaultmen blew up the emplacement with satchel charges. Photo courtesy of Official USMC Archives, from Iwo Jima: Portrait of a Battle by Eric Hammel.

Friday, June 4, 2010

Beyond the Book - Q & A with Steve Karras, author of "The Enemy I Knew"

In October 1999, writer and filmmaker Steven Karras began interviewing German and Austrian Jews who fled their native countries in the years leading up to World War II, only to return years later as members of the Allied military. The result was the documentary film “About Face: The Story of the Jewish Refugee Soldiers of WWII.”

Now, ten years after his first interview, Karras has brought these stories to paper with the release of his new book, The Enemy I Knew: German Jews in the Allied Military in World War II. In the following interview, Karras talks about what writing this book meant to him, why the stories of these veterans needed to be told, and how each story helps to alter the understanding of the Jewish experience during World War II.

ZENITH PRESS: What first attracted you to the stories of the unique veterans featured in “About Face” and The Enemy I Knew?

KARRAS: At first glance, these are stories that haven’t been told in any great detail and that, to me, was worthy of the attention. At first, I was only interested in reading about these stories but couldn’t really find them on library or bookstore shelves. There was certainly this intense curiosity I had about what it must have been like for these refugees from Nazism who were given the extraordinary opportunity to exact revenge on their former countrymen who had forsaken them, struck such intense fear in them and their families and held their lives in the balance in the early years of the Hitler regime. However, within moments of any interview I was drawn in by the overwhelming positive tenor of each story—that these weren’t stories of victimization and only about loss, but of rebirth and belonging—something unexpected when exploring the Jewish experience during the Second World War. There was certainly something exotic about hearing strong German accents (some more than others) discussing the American and British experience with such enthusiasm.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

Military Snapshots - Bird Dog over the DMZ

From 1968-1969, the "Catkillers" of the 220th Recon Airplane Company strapped into the cockpits of their two-seat, propeller-driven Cessna O-1 Bird Dogs and went to war in Vietnam. As forward observers, they flew hundreds of feet above one of the deadliest battlefields in modern history, all in an airplane no larger than a small pickup truck. In the process, they saved the lives of thousands of American servicemen. Here, a Bird Dog makes a low pass for a bomb damage assessment after an air strike in the DMZ. Photo courtesy of Don Long, from A Hundred Feet Over Hell: Flying With the Men of the 220th Recon Airplane Company Over I Corps and the DMZ, Vietnam 1968-1969 by Jim Hooper

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Award Winner! - Hope: A Collection of Obama Posters and Prints

It's official! Hope: A Collection of Obama Posters and Prints (Zenith Press) is the winner of the 2010 Benjamin Franklin Award™ in the "Political/Current Events" category. 

Research, compiled and written by Hal Elliott Wert, a professor at the Kansas City Art Institute, Hope offers a visually striking and comprehensive chronology of the posters created for Obama's historic presidential bid. Selected from the largest Obama poster collection known to exist, the 160 full-color images visually emphasize Obama's inspirational messages of change, hope, and inclusion, solidifying a campaign unlike anything ever seen in U.S. history and elevating the man behind the message to the status of cultural icon.

Awarded each year at Book Expo America from the Independent Book Publishers Association, the Benjamin Franklin Awards™ recognize "excellence in independent publishing."