"One of America's finest and most famous elite fighting divisions had been my home during a period of the most extreme adversity . . . " Eugene B. Sledge (Sledgehammer) is speaking of the 1st Marine Division - K Company, 3rd Battalion, 5th Marine Regiment. That sentence encompasses the two most important elements of this military memoir: the courage, vitality and bravery of the Marines, and the unforgettable reality of battle. The author was barely in his twenties in 1944 when he landed on the beach at Peleliu. Overall strategy and politics were not what concerned him. What it meant to be a fighting marine in its best tradition is the essence of his story. He enlisted out of patriotism, idealism and youthful courage. But once he got out in the field, it was a fight for survival. The miracle of getting through the fighting alive, when so many buddies did not make it, can never be fully appreciated. Simply and directly, this is how it was "out there." Sledge recounts his experiences, mincing no words and sparing no pain. The reality of battle was mud and mire with the stench of death filling the air. But the bonds of friendship formed were never to be severed. Read it as history, and read it as adventure. Either way it is a moving chronicle of action and courage.