The battle of Iwo Jima was extraordinary for its ferocity. US Marine Corps casualties exceeded by thousands the number of Japanese defenders, who fought almost to the last man over those five desperate weeks. The strategic justification for the mission has been challenged and the iconic photograph of the flag-raising was staged, but there is no questioning the courage displayed (winning the USMC 24 Medals of Honor) and the horrors endured by both sides. The Japanese were dug into a vast and complex defensive network of trenches, bunkers, caves and tunnels commanding every square foot of the island's volcanic rock and black sand. The Marines' task was to fight almost every step of the way from their landing beaches to the northern tip where victory was finally secured, developing new tactics to deal with this well-entrenched, determined and heavily-armed resistance as they progressed from objective to objective.
This book details the composition, weaponry and leadership of the opposing forces and reviews their plans. It also closely examines the individual fighting men on each side, the USMC infantryman and the Imperial Japanese soldier, contrasting their training, equipment, culture and battlefield experiences. Having laid out the background, the authors then follow the battle through its several phases from the landings to General Kuribayashi's last banzai. Their clear narrative, supported by numerous maps, tactical diagrams and photographs, answers in detail the question which other accounts of this great battle only address at a more general level: how did the Marines do it?