“Saipan 1944 – The Most Decisive Battle of the Pacific War”, Images of War Series

Reviewed by Don DeNevi

Publisher’s Summary: A chronological account of the battle with more than 200 photographs, including graphic images of the fighting and the huge naval bombardment.


In the spring of 1944, the Allied focus of attention turned to the Mariana Islands, Guam, Saipan, and Tinian, which were close enough to Tokyo to place the Japanese capital within the operational range of the new Boeing B-29 Superfortress.

The attack upon Saipan, the most heavily defended of the Marianas, took the Japanese by surprise, but over the course of more than three weeks, the 29,000 Japanese defenders defied the might of 71,000 US Marines and infantry.

Eventually, after three weeks of savage fighting, the capture of Saipan opened the way for General MacArthur to mount his invasion of the Philippines and resulted in the resignation of the Japanese Prime Minister Tojo. One Japanese admiral admitted, “Our war was lost with the loss of Saipan.”

“Saipan 1944” is an exceptionally well-illustrated soft-cover surpassing any previously published illustrated presentation of that appalling three-week battle so critical for V-J Day a year later.

With superb narration and cogent captions of the choicest 180 black and white photographs from America’s military archival sources, many now published for the first time, the book promises to prove of greatest interest to all military fans, whether buff, scholar, historian, author, and photographer, as well as every other American citizen. In short, the professionally laid out coffee table-sized book with perfect matting of many full-paged photos, some with one spanning both pages at 15” by 20”, the reader will suddenly find oneself in the heart of the ferociousness among heroes and heroism.

No other battle demonstrated so many last-ditch, futile banzai charges, and civilian suicides, mostly mothers clutching babies hurling themselves over the towering cliffs to the rocks or pounding surf below. Only 2,000 Japanese surrendered. Almost 3,500 Marines of the 27th Infantry Division lost their lives, with 13,000 wounded. Saito boasted he would lead his remaining troops in a final banzai attack, his bones greeting the American Devils as a bulwark of the Pacific for the homeland. Instead, after finishing a final meal, he ordered his adjutant to shoot him in the head.

About the author: John Grehan & Alexander Nicoll JOHN GREHAN has written, edited or contributed to more than 300 books and magazine articles covering a wide span of military history from the Iron Age to the recent conflict in Afghanistan. John has also appeared on local and national radio and television to advise on military history topics. He was employed as the Assistant Editor of Britain at War Magazine from its inception until 2014. John now devotes his time to writing and editing books.

About the publisher: Frontline Books

About the book: Saipan 1944 – The Most Decisive Battle of the Pacific War”, Images of War Series


Readability — 4 stars

Historical accuracy — 5 stars

Overall rating — 4.5 stars

Overall % rating – 4.5 stars