As of this morning, I'm absolutely engrossed in American Spartans, by James A. Warren. It's a history of the United States Marine Corps that runs from the beaches of Iwo Jima in 1945 to the streets of Baghdad in 2003. Great stuff.
The battle for Iwo Jima is one of the most epic battles of all time. 30,000 Marines went ashore on D-Day, hitting the beaches of an island defended by over 21,000 Japanese troops. For those who are not students of military science or military history, it is accepted as a general maxim that at least 3:1 odds are preferred when attacking an enemy in prepared positions. When all was said and done, the Marines had suffered more than 25,000 KIA and WIA, seeing 75% casualties in many infantry units. Of the 21,000 Japanese defenders, 250 surrendered. The rest fell in combat. Again for the unfamiliar, the standard rule of thumb is that a unit is rendered hors d' combat when it has taken 30% casualties. Twenty-seven Medals of Honor were awarded to American fighting men on Iwo in slightly over one month. The island had a total area of eight square miles. This is out of a total of 464 for the entire US Armed Forces in WWII over the entire globe between 12/41 and 8/45.
I'm only about a third of the way into it, but this is definitely a great read.