With the Old Breed by Eugene B. Sledge is a war memoir of the Second World War; its personal account of war should be used as a reliable historical source. Typically, military memoirs have been seen as capricious sources of history because of the emotion, trauma, and personal affections that soldiers take from a battlefield. Sledge describes these attachments to battle and the experience of combat during the conflicts of Peleliu and Okinawa. He describes the actuality of war and how it wears on a soldier’s spirit, mind, and body. This allows the reader to personalize the war experience. The description of war through a memoir can be used as an accurate account of what war is on the personal level. Historians can use war memoirs to understand what war is, without the ultimate experience of being in combat. It is a more accurate expression of what war is, on the ground and in the foxholes, than the typical history textbook that discusses a war’s causes, courses, and consequences. These generalizations of war are suitable for learning the politics and maneuvers of war, but do not help historians gain an idea of what the battlefield is like for a soldier in combat. To assess the reliability of With the Old Breed as a historical source one must assess the memoir’s weaknesses and strengths.
"There is Much to Learn From War Memoirs: Dissecting With the Old Breed as a Historical Source,"
The Compass: Vol. 1
, Article 5.
Available at: http://scholarworks.arcadia.edu/thecompass/vol1/iss1/5