Writing about his experience in the Battle of Okinawa, US Marine Eugene Sledge reported that “men struggled and fought and bled in an environment so degrading I believed we had been flung into hell’s own cesspool.” In his new book The Crucible of Hell: The Heroism and Tragedy of Okinawa, 1945, British military historian Saul David provides an unflinching narrative history of the greatest and most terrible battle in the Pacific War.

Providence editor at large Marc LiVecche spoke with Saul David about his work as a military historian, the impetus for the new book, the Battle of Okinawa. They cover questions about the importance of the battle, the horrors of the conflict, the heroism, and the connection between the Battle of Okinawa and Japan’s final destruction beneath the atom bomb.