Books: Hard Facts

TARAWA: THE STORY OF A BATTLE—Robert Sherrod—Duell, Sloan & Pearce ($2).

Between the water and the sea wall on Tarawa atoll, there was 20 feet of sand and brown-green coral; those 20 feet (for a distance of about 100 yards) were the U.S. beachhead. With the 3,000 Marines, dead and alive, on that tiny beachhead was TIME Correspondent Robert Sherrod, who went ashore with the first waves. Notebook in hand, Sherrod crouched behind the sea wall and jotted down notes for a notable close-up of war:

¶ A Marine flung TNT into a pillbox. When...

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