The pacific

Four months adrift in the Pacific: a couple’s extraordinary feat of endurance

It is every writer’s dream to glimpse, peeping out from behind a news story or feature, the contours of a book. Brian Masters was eating his breakfast on 12 February 1983 when he read in the morning papers reports of the arrest of a mildly spoken Jobcentre employee accused of strangling a number of men with whose flesh he had blocked the drains in his flat in Muswell Hill. Masters wrote to Dennis Nilsen. Nilsen wrote back: ‘Dear Mr Masters, I pass the burden of my life on to your shoulders.’ After Nilsen had filled 50 prison notebooks, Masters embarked on Killing for Company, surely the grisliest yet most poignant

The nightmare of Okinawa made Truman decide to use the atom bomb

The US operation of 1945 to take the island of Okinawa was the largest battle of the Pacific during the second world war. Seven US divisions were used in the operation, approximately half a million men, along with the entire US Pacific fleet of 1,457 ships. The initial assault was led by a landing force of 183,000, which brought with it 747,000 tons of cargo. It was, according to this superbly researched, well-written book, ‘the greatest air-land-sea battle in history’. The US side was led by Lieutenant General Simon Bolivar Buckner Jr, the son of a famous Confederate general. His opponent on Okinawa was Lieutenant General Mitsuru Ushijima, whose force