The book started as various notes that Sledge had written throughout his time in combat, starting from Pavuvu. After the war, he would compile the notes, and write his memoirs with the support of his wife and editors.
Working titles included A Marine Mortarman in World War II and Into the Abyss. It was released under it's final title in 1981 by the Presidio Press.
Differences from the seriesEdit
- In the series, Sledge gets his nickname from "Snafu" just after the Marines capture the airfield. In the book, Sledge gets his nickname way back to at least when he was in New Caledonia, some time before his initial arrival in Pavuvu.
- An obvious difference is that while Sledge and Robert Leckie are depicted in one scene together in the series, Sledge has never actually met him, nor does he mention doing so in his memoir. However, one of Leckie's books is cited by Sledge as a source for his historical intermissions in his memoir.
- In the book, it is not Snafu who stops Sledge from picking out Japanese gold teeth, it is an offscreen character, Corpsman Kent Caswell.
- Events preceeding the initial arrival at Pavuvu (excluding a brief look at Sledge's mortar training) are omitted entirely in the series, meaning that there is no counterpart to Cpl. T.J Doherty in the series.
- Despite being a major character, Bill Leyden does not make an appearence in the book.
- In the book, it doesn't mention the scene where Sledge and Sid Phillips reunite with each other on Pavuvu, nor is he ever mentioned.
- The events of Part Nine, aka "Okinawa", are changed heavily from how Sledge mentions the events in the battle.
- While Sledge does find a dying old Okinawan woman who wants him to mercy kill her as in the series, in the book, he doesn't just comfort her as she dies, but he finds a corpsman to try and help the woman. However, before Sledge and the corpman can return to help the woman, a Marine enters and kills her in cold blood with his rifle.
- The scene where Sledge kills the Japanese soldier at Okinawa, it wasn't Lt. Mac that told Sledge off, it was 1st Lt. George "Shadow" Lovejoy, an unfair and unpopular replacement officer and XO of King Company, before replacing 1st Lt. Thomas Stanley as King Company commander.
- Sledge's friendship with Pvt. Tony "Kathy" Peck is never depicted in the series. In the book, however, it is mentioned that they became good friends in Pavuvu before the Battle of Okinawa, and they are even seen having some friendly dialogue just before the aformentioned scene with Lt. Lovejoy. To a small extent, his role in the memoirs is fulfilled by Pvt. Hamm in the series.
- Pfc. Robert Oswalt is somewhat more fleshed out in the book, revealing his admiration for the human brain, and his aspiration to become a brain surgeon, making it all the more tragic that he is killed uncerimoniously, this time happening away from Sledge's view.
- It never mentions Snafu being as messed up as he is depicted in the series, or doing any of the things he did in the series. The people that are mentioned to do so are only referred to as "A buddy of mine" or "Fellow Marine".