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Victory Fever on GuadalcanalVictory Fever on Guadalcanal

Japan's First Land Defeat of World War II

William H. Bartsch

Narrated by Bill Nevitt

Available from Audible

Book published by Texas A&M University Press

Following their rampage through Southeast Asia and the Pacific in the five months after Pearl Harbor, Japanese forces moved into the Solomon Islands, intending to cut off the critical American supply line to Australia. But when they began to construct an airfield on Guadalcanal in July 1942, the Americans captured the almost completed airfield for their own strategic use.

The Japanese Army countered by sending to Guadalcanal a reinforced battalion under the command of Col. Kiyonao Ichiki. The attack that followed would prove to be the first of four attempts by the Japanese over six months to retake the airfield, resulting in some of the most vicious fighting of the Pacific War.

During the initial battle on the night of August 2021, 1942, Marines wiped out Ichiki’s men, who—imbued with “victory fever”—had expected a quick and easy victory.

William H. Bartsch draws on correspondence, interviews, diaries, memoirs, and official war records, including those translated from Japanese sources, to offer an intensely human narrative of the failed attempt to recapture Guadalcanal’s vital airfield.

William H. Bartsch is a former United Nations development economist and independent consultant. He is the author of three previous books published by Texas A&M University Press: Doomed at the Start: American Pursuit Pilots on the Philippines, 19411942, December 8, 1941: MacArthur's Pearl Harbor, and Every Day a Nightmare: American Pursuit Pilots in the Defense of Java, 19411942.


“The author is a seasoned researcher and writer and it is clear that this is an extensively researched and carefully written labor of love...weaving the eyewitness accounts and official records into a most illuminating work. He has uncovered material in quantity that cannot be read or even inferred in other standard works about the Guadalcanal Campaign. Amazing research and an eye for integrating first-person material into an excellent tale.”

—Kenneth W. Estes

“William H. Bartsch—author of excellent books about air operations in the Philippines and Netherlands East Indies during the opening months of the war in the Pacific—takes readers back to the level of small units and individuals in the jungle of Guadalcanal. The result is a book with the same visceral, foxhole appeal of the Tregaskis classic, plus undisputed academic credentials that come from more than a decade of careful research in little-known resources on both sides of the Pacific, including interviews, diaries, letters, memoirs, and manuscripts by veterans—most of them sadly departed by now. Bartsch displays considerable skill in writing this thorough and seamless history of the human side of the battle. Overall, there’s almost nothing to complain about in Victory Fever on Guadalcanal. Bartsch has written an appealing, exciting account of the Battle of the Tenaru, and his book emerges as one of the best WWII volumes of the year. Highly recommended.”

Stone & Stone, Second World War Books

“As a battle study, this book stands head and shoulders above most works of its type. The author has woven together a narrative that I can only describe as peerless. It’s a compelling story. The fact this is real, and not a novel, lends even more weight to the story. Whether you’re a professional historian, or a World War II fan, you’ll find this to be an essential book on the Pacific War.”

WWII Gyrene

Victory Fever on Guadalcanal: Japan’s First Land Defeat of World War II is a book predestined for the top ranks of all military titles written during the past decade. Bartsch describes the struggle in a scholarly, yet easy-to-read narrative form, allowing us to feel as if we were also engaged in combat. His writing is a tribute and reminder of what the island ‘hell hole’ was all about.”

Leatherneck Magazine

“Bartsch’s treatment of this iconic battle has much to commend it. It is scrupulously and diligently researched on both the American and Japanese sides. Interviews and unearthed diaries give the book an immediacy of combat reminiscent of John Keegan’s treatment of Agincourt, Waterloo, and the Somme. This research allowed him to alternate the narration between the two sides, before, during, and after the battle. Victory Fever on Guadalcanal is a detailed, compellingly told account of a pivotal battle during World War II in the Pacific—it is a worthy contribution to the literature of that war.”


“Bartsch succeeds in delivering another valuable glimpse into the lives of the average soldier. The depth of his research is on display throughout.”

U.S. Military Review

“William Bartsch has made a caluable contribution to our understanding of the Guadalcanal campaign.”

Michigan War Studies Review

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