You have reached your limit of free articles this month.

Enjoy unlimited access to

Starting at just 99¢ for 8 weeks.


  • ePAPER

You have read of premium articles.

Get unlimited access to all of our breaking news, in-depth coverage and interactive features. Starting at just 99c for 8 weeks.


Welcome to

Your source for Clark and Champaign counties’ hometown news. All readers have free access to a limited number of stories every month.

If you are a News-Sun subscriber, please take a moment to login for unlimited access.

3 profound looks at front lines of bloody U.S. wars

As we observe Memorial Day some of us will be recalling the courage of those who have served our country during wartime. Here are some recent books that provide readers with some in depth insights into what it was like to be on the front lines during the most savage wars in our nation’s history.

“The Second World War” by Antony Beevor (Back Bay Books, 863 pages, $20)

My dad, Victor C. Mickunas, was one of the U.S. Marines who fought to extricate the Japanese invaders from the Pacific island of Saipan during World War II.

Following the Japanese surrender he was a member of the first USMC survey crew that surveyed the city of Nagasaki following the massive destruction caused there after the United States dropped the atom bomb. My father didn’t like talking about his wartime experiences.

The historian Antony Beevor has written what some critics are calling the definitive history of WWII. His book “The Second World War” was recently issued in paperback. This was a global war. Beevor transports us across the numerous flash points and battle scenes through a whirlwind of precise prose.

The author guides us from the outbreak of war to the atomic windstorms that ultimately ended it. Along the way we make frequent stops in places such as Poland, Norway, Denmark, France, the Balkans, Africa, Moscow, Pearl Harbor, China, the Philippines, Stalingrad, Casablanca, Burma, Sicily, Normandy, Berlin, Okinawa, Dresden, Yalta and Konigsberg. He delivers all of it in a compact, pithy package.

“The Great War: A Combat History of the First World War” by Peter Hart (Oxford University Press, 522 pages, $34.95)

World War I had been under way for a couple of years when the United States entered the conflict. My grandfather Amos C. Lee and his identical twin brother Orrin enlisted in the USMC. Soon thereafter they were enroute to France, the location of the worst battles of that war.

Amos never wanted to talk it. Now all those soldiers are gone, a long time passing.

Peter Hart just published “The Great War: A Combat History of the First World War.” Almost a century ago this horrific conflict began.

Some observers believe that WWI was a pointless war. This historian thinks otherwise. He begins his book with this statement: “the Great War was the single most important event of the twentieth century, shaping the world that we live in today.”

The primary focus of this book is the slowly shifting carnage across the Western and Eastern fronts. The flower of French youth had been sacrificed on the killing fields in places like Ypres and Verdun. The author asserts that the sacrifices of the French were a crucial bulwark in holding back the advances of the Central Powers led by Germany. The British were just beginning to tip the balance of the struggle when the Americans came surging in.

“Gettysburg: The Last Invasion” by Allen C. Guelzo (Knopf, 630 pages, $35)

Our American Civil War was raging 150 years ago. The first week of July will mark the 150th anniversary of the battle of Gettysburg, This was the crucial turning point in the hostilities between the Union and the Confederate States.

Allen C. Guelzo, the director of Civil War Studies at Gettysburg College has published this account of the final desperate Confederate invasion of the north. This book takes us deep into the strategies of the opposing generals. And we see how seemingly minor decisions impacted the outcome of a monumental battle that ultimately turned the tides of war.

When the Confederate forces under Gen. Robert E. Lee crossed the Potomac River and headed north they cut themselves off from their railroad connection with Richmond, Va. This disconnection was just one factor that contributed to their stunning defeat.

Reader Comments ...

Next Up in Springfield Entertainment

Cailtyn Jenner thinks the Republican Party needs help with LGBTQ issues
Cailtyn Jenner thinks the Republican Party needs help with LGBTQ issues

Caitlyn Jenner thinks she knows what the Republican Party needs. Jenner took to Twitter on Wednesday to share her opinions on the Republicans and LGBTQ issues and was faced with a plethora of responses. "Republicans need help understanding LGBTQ issues and I'm here to help!" she tweeted Wednesday. One follower responded, "good luck with...
'A Dog's Purpose' producers respond to video of possible abuse, says German shepherd is fine
'A Dog's Purpose' producers respond to video of possible abuse, says German shepherd is fine

Video that emerged Wednesday of a German shepherd dog named Hercules was quickly called into question by some viewers. Celebrity gossip site TMZ obtained video from the set of the upcoming film "A Dog's Purpose," that some viewers may find disturbing. It shows Hercules struggling with a person who appears to be a trainer trying to get the...
Disney video appears to confirm theory that every Pixar movie is related
Disney video appears to confirm theory that every Pixar movie is related

One of the longest-enduring fan theories about movies is that in the Disney Pixar universe, all the films are related to each other. One theory by film reviewer Jon Negroni, aptly named, "The Pixar Theory," goes so far as to say that all Pixar movies take place within the same universe. The A.V. Club reported that, according to a video posted...
Madame Tussauds in London unveils Trump wax figure
Madame Tussauds in London unveils Trump wax figure

Other Madame Tussauds locations also have Trump wax figures on display, including Washington, D.C., Orlando and New York, according to The Telegraph.
Sanctuary show to focus on Great Women of Gospel
Sanctuary show to focus on Great Women of Gospel

Contact this contributing writer at A Springfield native will pay tribute to the late Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. and the civil rights movement in song. Lauren Kelley will take on the great women of gospel music at the next Sanctuary Series concert, 3 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 22, at High Street United Methodist Church. The concert replaces...
More Stories