Old Breed General

How Marine Corps General William H. Rupertus Broke the Back of the Japanese in World War II from Guadalcanal to Peleliu

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Pub Date 01 Feb 2022 | Archive Date 04 Feb 2022
Rowman & Littlefield, Stackpole Books

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Marine general William H. Rupertus is best known today for writing the Corps’ Rifleman’s Creed, which begins, “This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine”—which has been made famous by films such as Full Metal Jacket and Jarhead. Rupertus was one of the outstanding Marines of the twentieth century, standing alongside men such as Smedley Butler, Chesty Puller, and Arthur Vandegrift, but he died in 1945, so his story has never been told.

Rupertus “made his bones” in the USMC’s “savage wars of peace” before World War II: Haiti for three years after World War I, China in 1929 (where he lost his wife and children to the scarlet fever epidemic) and again in 1937 (where he witnessed the beginning of Japan’s war against China that turned into the Pacific War of World War II).

In World War II, Rupertus commanded during four important battles: Tulagi and Henderson Field during the Guadalcanal campaign; the Battle of Cape Gloucester; and Peleliu. It was a series of blistering battles—and ultimately victories—that helped break the back of the Japanese and pave the way for American victory. In the course of these battles, Rupertus became the Patton of the Pacific—ruthless in war, always on the attack, merciless against the enemy, undefeated in battles—even as he proved himself very much like Eisenhower, suavely diplomatic and able to balance war with politics. These skills allowed Rupertus to crush the enemy in the malaria-infested jungles of the Pacific and personally escort Eleanor Roosevelt on her tour of the Pacific.

Old Breed General is the biography of Rupertus and the story of the Marines at war in the Pacific. This is an American story of love, loss, shock, horror, tragedy, and triumph that focuses on Rupertus and the 1st Marine Division in World War II, but which resonates through the 1st, to Chosin in Korea and James Mattis’s command in Iraq.

Amy Rupertus Peacock is the granddaughter of General Rupertus and keeper of the family archives. A graduate of the University of Georgia’s journalism school, she has written for various newspapers. She lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Don Brown is a former U.S. Navy JAG officer and Special Assistant U.S. Attorney. He has written fourteen books, including a series of naval justice novels for Zondervan and the exposé Call Sign Extortion 17 (Lyons, 5/2015). His most recent book is The Last Fighter Pilot, which received coverage in the New York Times, the Washington Post, People, the New York Post, and other publications. He lives in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Marine general William H. Rupertus is best known today for writing the Corps’ Rifleman’s Creed, which begins, “This is my rifle. There are many like it, but this one is mine”—which has been made...

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ISBN 9780811770347
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Featured Reviews

What a truly inspirational biography! This was truly one of America’s great military leaders in the Pacific in WW2. The hardships that he and his troops experienced were heartbreaking. This is a must read for the history enthusiast!

Thank you to #NetGalley for the ARC in exchange for my honest review.

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This is just a good WWII read! I read an early pre-edited copy. Editing issues aside, this book told the detailed story of Marines of the 1st Marine Division "the Old Breed" and their leader Maj.Gen. William Rupertus. The author's tells of the personal side of Rupertus' life, including the loss of his first wife and two children while stationed in China in the 1930's.They go on to give an in-depth look his leadership in the island hopping campaign from Guadalcanal to Peleliu, and some of the smaller, less reported battles of the war. The author's do an great job giving vivid details to events and Rupertus' decision making, One of the author's personal relationship to the General and her access to his personal writings and papers brought the story to life.
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General Rupertus Old Breed General indeed. Mrs. Rupertus Peacock has done Military Historians a service by re-introducing us to the pre-World War Two Marine Corp and how the lessons learned in far away uncomfortable places were adapted on a global scale. The Marine Corp has always been the most adaptable of organizations while maintaining its ethos of Light, Austere and Lethal.

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