Heroes: U.S. Marine Corps Medal of Honor Winners

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9780425181591: Heroes: U.S. Marine Corps Medal of Honor Winners
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The United States Marine Corps Medal of Honor, awarded for outstanding courage and sacrifice in combat, is the greatest honor a marine can hope to attain. In over two hundred years of Marine Corps existence, only 293 marines have received this honor.

These are their stories.

From the American Revolution to the Persian Gulf, this comprehensive book features detailed information on 293 Marine Corps Medal of Honor winners, with 150 in-depth accounts of those who demonstrated the courage and determination which are the cornerstones of the United States Marine Corps-in a compelling chronicle of those who have truly earned the rank of "heroes."

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About the Author:

During his twenty-year career, Mark Cerasini has worked as a magazine editor and writer, a consultant, and a screenwriter, and has written more than forty books. He wrote an analysis of Tom Clancy's fiction for The Tom Clancy Companion. He has also written for The Briefing Room, a website and forum for authors of military fiction and nonfiction, techno-thrillers, and espionage novels.

Review:

Marc Cerasini has written both a history and an eloquent tribute to the men and women who have served this country as Marines. While his book, "Heroes, U.S. Marine Corps Medal Of Honor Winners", focuses on exceptional acts by exceptional men, it is easy to finish the book, place it on the shelf, and be left with the idea that the Marine Corps is pretty exceptional as well. My comments are about this book, and this book is about the Marines. All of the armed forces that protect this nation have their own remarkable stories of heroism; this book focuses on one of those forces. The Marines have protected this country even prior to it becoming a nation. In 1775 they began to serve and deliver the country that was envisioned but not yet formed. They now are in their third century of service, and there is not a more effective fighting group anywhere. There are also known as, "the few and the proud". What is immediately apparent is their pride is for the corps and not for themselves. The Medal Of Honor by definition sets apart a single Marine. The fact that so many are awarded posthumously points once again to their pride in what they do, the beliefs for which they have died, and in many cases literally deciding to die to protect those they served with. What continually struck me were how many Marines made a decision that they knew virtually guaranteed their death. Throwing yourself on a grenade so that only you will die, giving those you are with a chance to live is far beyond a word like extraordinary. Staying behind, alone to cover others against numbers of the enemy that far outnumber your ability to stop, again is something far beyond exceptional. The only commonality amongst those who earned this medal was that they were Marines. They were officers, enlisted men, they were teenagers, they were men in what would be considered middle age fighting alongside others that could have been their sons. There were even boys, years from eligibility that died taking islands in the Pacific Theatre. When you read of the numbers of dead that died taking small pieces of land to either evict the Japanese, and or, establish airfields so that Japan could be reached, another issue in my opinion is forever settled. Those who fought each other, American or Japanese, routinely state the atomic bomb was a gift to both sides. The weapons that were dropped were devastating; they were the most violent weapons and the most indiscriminate of killers. However if the balance of the islands leading to Japan, and then Japan herself had been taken as the other islands had, the dead on both sides would have been massively increased. The words at the top of these comments are part of a quote written by President Reagan. The entire quote is, "Some people go through life wondering if they have made a difference. Marines don't have that problem". --David Kirk

Anyone who is a Marine or is an unwavering supporter will probably love this book. Those who are not quite so predisposed will probably be somewhat underwhelmed. In the places where the author focusses on a particular individual and describes what he did, it is an interesting and stirring book that leaves you amazed at the bravery each Marine displays. The victories, tragedies, and horrors of war become clear, and while reading about their deeds, you come to realize just how incredible are these men who earn this medal. Unfortunately, the author spends too much time NOT writing about heroes. Although there are places where there is a lot of interesting detail about the actions of the medal-winner, all too often the text will have three paragraphs about a battle in general, and then literally have only one or two sentences about what the Marine did. Other places, the author simply lists names, saying something like "Other Marines who gave their lives to save fellow Marines during the battle were..." and reels off 8 or 10 names. There is a lot of explanation about various wars and police actions and other activities. Indeed, the book really reads more like a history of the Marine Corps than a compilation of descriptions of the deeds of heroes. Although some of this is interesting and provides a useful context for the Marines' actions, it sometimes seems out of place and all too often wanders off into unwanted political opinions and judgements, or tangential ramblings that are distracting and even at times downright boring. For an experienced writer, the author also has some annoying habits that I was amazed to see the editors allow through. The author is in love with the words "butcher" and "slaughter." Nobody is ever killed in this book, they are butchered or slaughtered, sometimes both at the same time. After a while, the words lose their shock value and meaning, and actually denigrates the seriousness of the situation. I'll agree that killing all 700 Japanese soldiers attacking your position is a slaughter, and when people are killed in their tents during a surprise attack to the rear of the action it's butchering, but when 50 out of 500 are killed during a day-long battle, "butchering" is hyperbole and annoying. I still think it's a good book. It should be required reading for every Marine. Anyone interested in the military or stirring stories of heroism will probably like this book. But be forewarned that the writing is uneven at best, the book covers a lot more territory than just telling the stories of heroes, and unfortunately it sadly shortchanges many of these heroes by failing to actually tell their stories. --By Pooh Guy

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