HBO, Sundays 9 p.m. ET through May 16
This 10-part miniseries tracks the real-life accounts of three U.S. Marines —Robert Leckie (played by James Badge Dale), Eugene Sledge (Joe Mazzello) and John Basilone (Jon Seda)— who fought in the Pacific during World War II. Leckie and Sledge wrote postwar memoirs of their tours (Helmet for My Pillow and With the Old Breed at Peleliu and Okinawa, respectively). Basilone achieved fame during the war for heroic action on Guadalcanal that earned him the Medal of Honor (he was later killed on Iwo Jima). Their stories are remarkable, and one should read their accounts before watching the series, to appreciate the grim reality they faced, absent a musical score or artistic interpretation.
The series is beautifully filmed—if the brutality of war can be called beautiful. Executive producers Tom Hanks, Steven Spielberg and Gary Goetzman again employ many of the techniques they perfected on Saving Private Ryan and Band of Brothers. Dale Dye, who served as military adviser on those productions (see Interview, Oct/Nov 2009), deftly recaps that role here. Withholding any spoilers, just don’t expect this version of the war to end in jubilation on Times Square. HBO [www.hbo.com] will release a five DVD set of the series later this year.
Originally published in the July 2010 issue of Military History. To subscribe, click here.