Book Review Questions
With the Old Breed: At Peleliu and Okinawa by E. B. Sledge
Please respond to the following, providing your analysis and adequate detail:
1. Who were the “old breed” that Sledge constantly refers to throughout this work and how did he feel about them?
2. Where did Sledge keep his notes during his enlistment that would later provide the specificity necessary for a book such as this?
3. During the battles on Peleliu, activities at night were especially difficult – keeping one’s wits, for instance. There was one such night where a fellow Marine “lost it”. What was the group response and how did Sledge justify their actions? What would you have done?
4. Several quotes stand out in this book. Think about the particular circumstances that were ongoing when Sledge uses these quotes, and what he is trying to impress upon the reader. Taking each quote on its own, detail the message and whether you agree with his point. Do you think these ideals are still important to America and Americans?
a. “Courage meant overcoming fear and doing one’s duty in the presence of danger…”
b. “War is brutish, inglorious, and a terrible waste. Combat leaves an indelible mark on those who are forced to endure it.”
c. “If the country is good enough to live in, it’s good enough to fight for.”
5. There always seems to be a difficulty in re-adjusting to civilian life for a combat soldier or Marine. Siegfried Sassoon, an English combat infantry officer and poet in World War I, wrote the following verse:
You smug-faced crowds with kindling eye
Who cheer when soldier lads march by,
Sneak home and pray you’ll never know
The hell where youth and laughter go.
*Sassoon, Siegfried, “Suicide in Trenches” in Collected Poems, Viking Press, N.Y. 1949.
What does this verse say to you with regard to E.B. Sledge’s experience, and that of all