books · family

Book Review – Unknown Valor

I have read my share of world war II books. I enjoy the history of the greatest generation. Sometimes I wish I was born in that generation when you look at the crazy state of the world today—however, this topic is about my latest world war II book, “Unknown Valor” by Martha Mccallum.

Most books on world war II seem to be related to the part of the war in Europe and Hitler. I guess that might be due to the role Hitler played and arguably the most infamous person in world history. What seems to take a back seat is the other part of the war in the Pacific. Mostly what we hear about is Pearl Harbor, the declaration of war, and then the European theatre.

Unknown Valor is an excellent book because the story was not about one event or one particular battle or some hero. The story was about “Unknown Valor” the sacrifice of regular people, the people at home doing what they can to support the effort. A perspective of ordinary people doing what they can and enlisted soldiers just serving and dying in places of the world we never really talk about; Iwo Jima, Okinawa, Guadalcanal, and many small islands all over the Pacific.

The author wrote the book based on stories she heard growing up from her family. Her great uncle who served and the families experience before the war and after. It told the story of her uncle’s family at that time of history. The people he met, served with, and where he died, one of the tens of thousands just a part of history doing their part for a greater cause, “Unknown Valor.”

It was a great story and an easy read. The way it was written it felt like you were experiencing the time and places through history from others. The author did a great job finding a few survivors that remembered her uncle and shared some personal memories they still had of him and the group that hung together.

We hear much about the European front but not as much about the Pacific theater we don’t hear much about the events post-Pearl Harbor how we had to rebuild the navy and the slow, methodical struggle from one island to the next all over the Pacific to be on the doorstep of Japan finally. The book provided an excellent context for that portion of the war. What I did not know, the day the marines raised the flag in that famous photo on Iwo Jima was not the end of that battle. That was just the taking of the hill. The battle went on for days and weeks after that, with thousands of soldiers losing their lives.

I highly recommend reading this book; it is not just a war book or a history book; it is real life and personal experiences of everyday people that gave all they could.

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