By Christopher Miskimon

William Swanson described himself as an ordinary rifleman, but there was nothing ordinary about his experiences as a United States Marine in World War II. He joined the Marines in late 1942, excited for the adventure of it. Eight months later he arrives on Guadalcanal as part of the Ninth Marines, Third Marine Division, the fighting over except for occasional air raids and enemy stragglers. In October 1943 the division goes to Bougainville, where young William sees combat for the first time. He is soon dispelled of the notion of adventure by two months of action. After a brief return to Guadalcanal, his unit ships out for Guam, attacking the enemy in pillboxes and caves, respecting their courage but hating them, nonetheless. Finally, William lands on Iwo Jima, where he receives a wound to the hand which takes him out of the battle. After convalescing, he awaits reassignment for the invasion of Japan, but the atomic bomb spared him that fate.

The author of this memoir spent twenty-seven months in the Pacific and took part in three separate campaigns. His writing is clear and engaging, giving the reader the unembellished point of view of a rifleman. The narrative is reminiscent of more famous memoirs such as those by Eugene Sledge or Robert Leckie and sits compares well to both.

The View from my Foxhole: A Marine Private’s Firsthand WWII Combat Experience from Guadalcanal to Iwo Jima (William Swanson, Permuted Press, New York NY, 2023, 176 pp., photographs, $26, HC)