Pin It
Favorite

Book Review 

by Ted S. McGregor, Jr.


As World War II continues to hold that place as America's noblest struggle, our understanding of it is changing. Far from the bloodless depictions of 1950s movies, recent recreations -- films like Saving Private Ryan and the miniseries Band of Brothers -- have taken an unflinching look. Add to this genre the memoir of Wayne MacGregor, a Grangeville, Idaho, attorney who grew up in Spokane during the Depression. In his new book for WSU Press, MacGregor recalls his days in the Pacific in the Army's 77th Infantry Division.


"Once you get into combat, you realize that you're not mainly fighting for 'Liberty, country, and Mother's apple pie.' That's mostly bullshit," writes MacGregor. "You're fighting for the guy next to you in the foxhole and your buddies in the platoon."


That sets the tone for this plain-spoken, often terrifying account. Clearly MacGregor doesn't want to leave the impression that victory was in any way easy. It's ugly, gruesome stuff, but it's the truth.


MacGregor recalls digging foxholes and discovering dead Japanese soldiers instead of soil. You can feel the horror of the sudden realization that one particularly brutal stretch of artillery fire was coming from other American troops. And MacGregor can still remember the blood splashing on his fatigues from Japanese prisoners his squad had hauled around for a week; a battle-crazed GI shot them both in the head the moment they walked into camp.


The centerpiece of this memoir, however, is the battle for Okinawa, a heavily fortified island to the south of Japan. Perhaps the most brutal battle in history, the fight for Okinawa was somewhat overlooked by the American public, since Germany had been defeated only a few days before. On the American side, it was like three 9/11s, with more than 9,600 killed. Nearly 90,000 Japanese perished there as well.


Were there lessons to be learned? MacGregor is no pacifist; he believes that the war was just and that the Japanese paid a terrible price for the greed and pride of their leaders. Still, from what he saw, there's got to be a better way.


"If people everywhere could see what the residue of battle consists of -- the bodies of their soldiers, their children, lying torn asunder, flesh decaying and falling off the bones, and insects, birds, and other animals feeding on the decomposing corpses -- perhaps it would cause a revulsion, a loathing, an abhorrence of such magnitude that wars would become obsolete."





Publication date: 02/06/03

  • Pin It

Latest in News

  • In Their Best Interest
  • In Their Best Interest

    Why many neglected kids don't have legal representation for critical decisions that could dictate their future
    • Feb 23, 2017
  • 'Right Side of History'
  • 'Right Side of History'

    The Washington Supreme Court rules against Arlene's Flowers; plus, two dogs call it a day
    • Feb 23, 2017
  • Frozen Out
  • Frozen Out

    In the middle of a chaotic winter, the city of Spokane ousted its veteran street director, but won't give an explanation to the city council
    • Feb 23, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • Manufacturing Fear
  • Manufacturing Fear

    Spokane's Republican sheriff says members of his own party are dangerously dividing people
    • Aug 12, 2015
  • Ground Breaking
  • Ground Breaking

    The Spokane Tribe's first female tribal chair seeks to change a toxic legacy
    • Aug 12, 2015
  • Dinner, Drinks and Doobies?
  • Dinner, Drinks and Doobies?

    A new initiative would allow weed in Denver bars and restaurants; any chance Washington would follow suit?
    • Oct 15, 2015

Comments


Comments are closed.

Today | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed
Mammoths & Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age

Mammoths & Mastodons: Titans of the Ice Age @ Northwest Museum of Arts & Culture

Tuesdays-Sundays. Continues through May 7

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Ted S. McGregor Jr.

Most Commented On

  • We Have Not Yet Begun to Fight

    Why we're filling the streets to protest Trump's inhumane, dangerous policies
    • Feb 2, 2017
  • Obscene Gestures

    Spokane political party leaders hope to harness post-election passion into civil discourse. But so far, there's only been more strife
    • Feb 9, 2017
  • More »

Top Tags in
News & Comment

Briefs


green zone


marijuana


Comment


do something


Readers also liked…

  • Cop Culture
  • Cop Culture

    Monique Cotton and others within the Spokane Police Department speak out for the first time, adding to the calls for a cultural audit of the department
    • Dec 10, 2015
  • Hopeless for Heroin
  • Hopeless for Heroin

    As heroin deaths continue to rise in Washington state, what can a parent do to save a child from the depths of addiction?
    • Jul 29, 2015
  • The Syrian
  • The Syrian

    One family from Syria has found welcoming arms in Spokane, and many others may follow
    • Sep 24, 2015

© 2017 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation