William Raymond Manchester (April 1, 1922 – June 1, 2004) was an American author, biographer, and historian. He was the author of 18 books which have been translated into over 20 languages. He was awarded the National Humanities Medal and the Abraham Lincoln Literary Award.
Manchester was born in Attleboro, Massachusetts and grew up in Springfield, Massachusetts. His father served in the U.S. Marine Corps during World War I. After his father's death, and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, William Manchester likewise enlisted in the Marine Corps. However, he was ordered back to college until called up. Although he had expected to serve in Europe, Manchester ultimately found himself in the Pacific Ocean theater. Initially he joined the Officer Candidate School but dropped out before receiving a commission. After attaining the rank of corporal, he was sent to Guadalcanal in 1944 for further training. He served in Pacific War's final campaign on the island of Okinawa, was severely wounded on June 5, 1945, and was promoted to sergeant in July and awarded the Purple Heart.
Manchester's wartime experiences formed the basis for his very personal account of the Pacific Theater, Goodbye, Darkness: A Memoir of the Pacific War. In this memoir, Manchester uses some personal anecdotes from his service on Okinawa in his descriptions of battles on Guadalcanal and Saipan. He stated this in the end notes, as well as clearly denying any attempt at a chronological account. The book is part fiction, part memoir. Manchester's portrayal of himself as a sergeant on Guadalcanal is a literary device. He wrote of World War II in several other books, including his second of a planned three-part biography of Winston Churchill, and a biography of General Douglas MacArthur, American Caesar...
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