Dispatches from the Pacific: The World War II Reporting of Robert L. Sherrod

Dispatches from the Pacific: The World War II Reporting of Robert L. Sherrod

Dispatches from the Pacific: The World War II Reporting of Robert L. Sherrod

Dispatches from the Pacific: The World War II Reporting of Robert L. Sherrod

Synopsis

In the fall of 1943, armed with only his notebooks and pencils, Time and Life correspondent Robert L. Sherrod leapt from the safety of a landing craft and waded through neck-deep water and a hail of bullets to reach the shores of the Tarawa Atoll with the US Marine Corps. Living shoulder to shoulder with the marines, Sherrod chronicled combat and the marines' day-to-day struggles as they leapfrogged across the Central Pacific, battling the Japanese on Tarawa, Saipan, Iwo Jima, and Okinawa. While the marines courageously and doggedly confronted an enemy that at times seemed invincible, those left behind on the American home front desperately scanned Sherrod's columns for news of their loved ones. Following his death in 1994, the Washington Post heralded Sherrod's reporting as "some of the most vivid accounts of men at war ever produced by an American journalist." Now, for the first time, author Ray E. Boomhower tells the story of the journalist in Dispatches from the Pacific: The World War II Reporting of Robert L. Sherrod, an intimate account of the war efforts on the Pacific front.

Excerpt

Late in the afternoon of March 7, 1944, Robert L. Sherrod, a reporter who had been covering the war in the Pacific for Time and Life magazines, boarded an Eastern Airlines plane for a flight from New York to Washington, dc. He was in a good mood because his first book, Tarawa: the Story of a Battle, detailing his experiences with the Second Marine Division combating Japanese troops on Betio Island in the Tarawa Atoll, had just been published—an event, he noted, that “lives in the memory, like the day I was married, the day my first child was born, the day I got my diploma.” That same day the book had received a glowing review in the New York Times, with the reviewer, John Chamberlain, writing that Sherrod’s work marked the first “real book-length introduction to what war can actually mean to a peace-loving people.”

As Sherrod settled happily into his seat, he turned and noticed that sitting next to him was a skinny navy lieutenant who looked too young to be a veteran of combat. Sherrod was astonished to see that the officer was carrying a copy of his new book. He took all of five minutes before he turned and asked the officer his opinion about what he was reading. “It’s O.K.,” the young veteran said, “pretty bloody but that’s the way it is out there.” the officer, John Fitzgerald Kennedy, went on to explain that he had just been released from a naval hospital on Staten Island and was on his way to Florida to visit with his family. One thing that Kennedy forgot to mention, Sherrod recalled later, was that his patrol torpedo boat (PT-109) had been sliced in half by a Japanese destroyer, the Amagiri, one dark night in August 1943 in the Solomon Islands. For his courage during the ordeal, Kennedy had earned the Navy and Marine Corps Medal. After Sherrod introduced himself as the book’s author, Kennedy passed his copy over to him and asked him to autograph it for his mother, Rose. It was the start of ite House luncheon that President John Kennedy . . .

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