Red Blood, Black Sand: Fighting Alongside John Basilone from Boot Camp to Iwo Jima
The black sands of Iwo Jima were witness to the largest battle ever fought by the US Marines. 30,000 Marines took part, and Chuck Tatum was one of them. He was a young man, fresh from boot camp, when he scrambled out of his AAV and up the beach. That first day he fought alongside John Basilone, hero of Guadalcanal, and continued fighting through weeks of some of the most brutal combat of WWII. His company would suffer 90% casualties on Iwo Jima.
Tatum wrote this memoir in honor of his fellow Marines. It has since become one of four sources cited in HBO’s mini-sires The Pacific. This is a true memoir, with none of the polish of professional writing, and all of the charm, authenticity, and grit of a man who is looking back on his wartime experiences with 50 years of perspective. We’re with him through boot camp, through his antics while on leave, and alongside him as the Marines fight for every scrap of volcanic soil. Though his tale is grim, Tatum delivers it with such enthusiasm that it isn’t overwhelming, like so many other books on war can be. This is a must-read for any student of WWII.