The Pacific

First run on HBO earlier this year, this series should be available on DVD soon (if it’s not already). It’s a masterful re-creation of the war in the Pacific, based on the memoirs of and interviews with actual veterans. This is not your musical version of the South Pacific — although there is a rat-infested island used for R&R that might have inspired it. This is the Pacific War as a long, hard slog — covering both the heroism and acts of selfless bravery that we knew about, and the awful realities (trophy hunting and mutilations of enemy corpses) that we didn’t.

There’s some overlap with the Ken Burns series on World War II. Eugene V. Sledge appears in both series — his memoirs ought to be required reading for anyone who thinks of war as merely a political strategy. But there is a lot of new material, and new stories. My favorite scene — Sledge, the grandson of a Confederate general, discovers the lieutenant he much admired was the grandson of a Union officer.  Therein lay the seeds of a more united, postwar America.

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