War at the End of the World: Douglas MacArthur and the Forgotten Fight For New Guinea, 1942-1945 by James P. Duffy, 448 pages, hardcover, $11.99
A harrowing account of an epic, yet nearly forgotten, battle of World War II—General Douglas MacArthur's four-year assault on the Pacific War's most hostile battleground: the mountainous, jungle-cloaked island of New Guinea.
One American soldier called it “a green hell on earth.” Monsoon-soaked wilderness, debilitating heat, impassable mountains, torrential rivers, and insect and disease-infested swamps—New Guinea was a battleground far more deadly than the most fanatical of enemy troops. Japanese forces numbering some 600,000 men began landing in January 1942, determined to seize the island as a cornerstone of the Empire’s strategy to knock Australia out of the war. Allied Commander-in-Chief General Douglas MacArthur committed 340,000 Americans, as well as tens of thousands of Australian, Dutch, and New Guinea troops, to retake New Guinea at all costs. Included in the campaign was the 41st (“Sunset”) Division composed of National Guard troops from Washington, Oregon, Idaho, and Montana’s 163rd Regiment.
What followed was a four-year campaign that involved some of the most horrific warfare in history. At first emboldened by easy victories throughout the Pacific, the Japanese soon encountered in New Guinea a catastrophic setback for their war machine. For the Americans, victory in New Guinea was the first essential step in the long march towards the Japanese home islands and the ultimate destruction of Hirohito’s empire. Winning the war in New Guinea was of critical importance to MacArthur. His avowed “I shall return” to the Philippines could only be accomplished after taking the fourth largest island in the world.
In this gripping narrative, historian James P. Duffy chronicles the most ruthless combat of the Pacific War, a fight complicated by rampant tropical disease, violent rainstorms, and unforgiving terrain that punished both Axis and Allied forces alike. Drawing on primary sources, War at the End of the World fills in a crucial gap in the history of World War II while offering readers a narrative of the first rank. “This will likely stand as the definitive account of the New Guinea campaign.”
—The Christian Science Monitor
“A vivid and well-researched chronicle of a 'forgotten fight' that was crucial to Allied victory...[ gives those who were involved the recognition they deserve.”—The Wall Street Journal