Guadalcanal Diary:The Battle for Guadalcanal in Literature and Film

Essay by griffellyB, May 2005

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Tregaskis's account is still considered to be something of a classic of war reportage simply because Guadalcanal Diary is a factual event in the history of the battles fought on Guadalcanal. Also, the very first page in the introduction of the book says that war makes for great stories, and it is true. People who were not involved in battle, or who simply want to know what occurred will read the novel and/or see the film version. And, the soldiers that fought in World War II now have a written history in both print and on film. There is plenty of action taking place in war without needing to dramatize it. The action is real, and attracts people to the stories from start to finish. What makes his account distinctive and memorable is the style of his writing in journal form. The day by day accounts of what happened make you feel as if you are right there with Tregaskis and all of the men he reported on.

Being with the Marines for those few months allowed Tregaskis to understand the human experiences on Guadalcanal, see the heroism and self-sacrifice of the men, and actually live through the events right along side them. The descriptions of the terrible heat, the spray of the water on the boats, the smell of the dead bodies, the physical descriptions of the jungle, the sounds of artillery and gun fire, and the sense of fear that each man felt were brought to life in Tregaskis's account.

While Tregaskis wanted to memorialize the troops he encountered, he did not glamorize them. He made sure to get each man's full name, military rank, and hometown as a way of remembering them. Tregaskis treated each of these men with the utmost respect and dignity. He also made...

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