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DeGroot stay-at-home blog praises Saul’s new book

Monday, March 23rd, 2020

Times writer Gerard DeGroot has followed up his thumbs-up review of Saul’s new book, Crucible of Hell, with more praise in a blog on the best new books to read while we’re all at home: https://mymycorona.wordpress.com/2020/03/22/what-a-great-time-to-read/

He writes: ‘This is the best book I’ve read on the Battle of Okinawa. Finally, a military historian has written a book which gives humanity to the Japanese, without taking anything away from what the Americans endured and achieved on that island.

I’ve read a lot of military history over the course of my career. Too often wars are sanitised; they’re reduced to lines on a map, statistics and the decisions of supreme commanders. I saw that recently when reading Victor Davis Hanson’s The Second World Wars, a book in which no one seems to die, no one suffers. There’s none of the mud, piss or shit, the shattered limbs, the spattered brains, the screams for mother during the slow agony of death.  I really wish people wouldn’t write about war in that way. It’s misleading and irresponsible.

Saul David is the opposite. He gets down into the foxholes with soldiers, into the cockpits with kamikaze pilots speeding toward their fiery death. ‘We were in the depths of the abyss’, one American soldier wrote of that battle, ‘the ultimate horror of war … Men struggled and fought and bled in an environment so degrading I believed we had been flung into hell’s own cesspool.’

David restores a human dimension to this battle – both sides are brave, stoic, frightened, barbaric and occasionally cowardly.  This is narrative history at its most visceral as battles unfold almost in real time.  Kamikaze pilots gather together before a big mission and tell bawdy jokes, boasting of sexual experiences they don’t actually have.    At one point, a fierce fight on Sugar Loaf Hill is interrupted when an American ‘war dog’ escapes his lead, charges an Okinawan mutt, mounts her in no-man’s land, then obediently returns.  The battlefield falls briefly silent while dogs copulate, and then annihilation resumes.

David fits perfectly into the fine tradition of war books by Max Hastings and Anthony Beevor. It’s war at its most beautiful and most horrible. You can read my review.’

Review in The Times

Saturday, March 14th, 2020

A wonderful first review of Saul’s new book Crucible of Hell has appeared in today’s The Times. Gerard DeGroot writes: ‘David restores a human dimension to this battle – both sides are brave, stoic, frightened, barbaric and occasionally cowardly. This is narrative history at its most visceral as battles unfold almost in real time… In short chapters David shifts between American and Japanese fronts, providing a gripping reconstruction of the action.’ In a separate tweet, De Groot adds: ‘This is the best book ever on the Battle of Okinawa. Great reading while you’re self-isolating.’ https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/crucible-of-hell-by-saul-david-review-the-american-invaders-flung-into-hells-own-cesspool-6zzqv0rd8

Talk in Hungerford

Friday, March 6th, 2020

Saul will talk about his new book Crucible of Hell at the Croft Hall, Hungerford, at 7.30pm on Wednesday 15 April. The event is organised by Hungerford Bookshop. For more information and to buy ticks: https://www.hungerfordbookshop.co.uk/category/events/page/2

Antony Beevor praises Saul’s new book

Friday, March 6th, 2020

Bestselling military historian Antony Beevor has praised Saul’s Crucible of Hell (out on 2 April). He writes: ‘Excellent. Saul David’s gripping narrative is admirably clear.’

Talk at Chiltern Bookshops

Friday, January 31st, 2020

Saul will give the first talk on his new book, Crucible of Hell: Okinawa – The Last Great Battle of the Second World War – at Chorleywood War Memorial Hall, Common Road, Chorleywood, WD3 5LN, at 7pm on Tuesday 7 April 2020. The event is organised by Chiltern Bookshops. For more details and to book tickets: https://chilternbookshops.co.uk/event/saul-david-crucible-of-hell/

Praise for Crucible of Hell

Monday, January 20th, 2020

Historian David Reynolds has praised Saul’s new book, out in April 2020. ‘Gripping, even gruesome, yet deeply moving,’ he writes, ‘Crucible of Hell sweeps us masterfully from a coral charnel house in the Pacific to the mushroom cloud over Hiroshima.’

Extraordinary Irregulars

Saturday, November 16th, 2019

Another wonderful review of The Force has appeared in the Wall Street Journal. “A very fine book,” writes Alexander Rose. “[David] has both a knack with the pen and a nose for a thrilling tale… Special forces are always cool and books relating their exploits are always exciting, especially when related in so masterly a style… Readers should exult in ‘The Force’, whose heroic subjects deserve to be forever remembered.”

Wartime missions recounted in vivid detail

Saturday, November 16th, 2019

The Winnipeg Free Press hailed Saul’s new book as “a fitting tribute to the heroism of these soldiers… While David rightly celebrates the heroism of the Force, he never loses sigh of the grimness and tragedy of war. His account brings wartime experience – the gruelling training, the ferocity of combat – vividly to life with an immediacy that is breathtaking.”

Book review

Sunday, September 29th, 2019

Saul’s new book The Force has been praised by Paul Dickson in the Washington Independent Review of Books. Describing the book as “riveting and harrowing”, Dickson adds: “David does a remarkable job in bringing these rugged, non-conforming men back to life…[He] has written an important, highly engaging work that is, as novelist Raymond Chandler once wrote of a book he was reviewing, unputdownable.”


Chinese translation of ‘Crucible of Hell’

Friday, September 20th, 2019

Saul’s forthcoming book, Crucible of Hell: Okinawa – The Stalingrad of the Pacific, has been sold to Chinese publishing company Beijing Huaxia Winshare Books, and will be available in mainland China from April 2020, the 75th anniversary of the Okinawa landings.