By James H. Hallas
On September 15, 1944, General William Rupertus and the 16,000 Marines of the U.S. 1st Marine Division moved confidently toward Peleliu, an obscure speck of coral island 500 miles east of the Philippines. Though he knew a tough fight awaited him, Rupertus anticipated a quick two-day crush to victory, strengthening Gen. Douglas MacArthur's flank in his drive on the Philippines. Instead, as The Devil's Anvil reveals, American forces struggled desperately for more than two months against 10,000 deeply entrenched Japanese soldiers who had spent six months preparing for the battle. By the time the weary Americans could claim a victory, the fight had become one of the war's most costly successes. Even more tragic, Peleliu was later deemed a more or less unnecessary seizure. For those who survived, Peleliu remains a bitter, emotionally exhausting chapter of their lives. In The Devil's Anvil, Hallas reports on the personal combat experience of scores of officers and enlisted men who were at Peleliu. These men describe the heartbreaking loss of friends, the pain of wounds, and the heat, dirt, and exhaustion of a fight that never seemed to end.