The Mosquito Bowl
A Game of Life and Death in World War II
An extraordinary, untold story of the Second World War in the vein of Unbroken and The Boys in the Boat, from the author of Friday Night Lights and Three Nights in August.
When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor, college football was at the height of its popularity. As the nation geared up for total war, one branch of the service dominated the aspirations of college football stars: the United States Marine Corps. Which is why, on Christmas Eve of 1944, when the 4th and 29th Marine regiments found themselves in the middle of the Pacific Ocean training for what would be the bloodiest battle of the war – the invasion of Okinawa—their ranks included one of the greatest pools of football talent ever assembled: Former All Americans, captains from Wisconsin and Brown and Notre Dame, and nearly twenty men who were either drafted or would ultimately play in the NFL.
When the trash-talking between the 4th and 29th over who had the better football team reached a fever pitch, it was decided: The two regiments would play each other in a football game as close to the real thing as you could get in the dirt and coral of Guadalcanal. The bruising and bloody game that followed became known as “The Mosquito Bowl.”
Within a matter of months, fifteen of the 64 the players in “The Mosquito Bowl” would be killed at Okinawa, by far the largest number of American athletes ever to die in a single battle. The Mosquito Bowl is the story of these brave and beautiful young men, those who survived and those who did not. It is the story of the families and the landscape that shaped them. It is a story of a far more innocent time in both college athletics and the life of the country, and of the loss of that innocence.
Writing with the style and rigor that won him a Pulitzer Prize and have made several of his books modern classics, Buzz Bissinger takes us from the playing fields of America’s campuses where boys played at being Marines, to the final time they were allowed to still be boys on that field of dirt and coral, to the darkest and deadliest days that followed at Okinawa.
Praise For The Mosquito Bowl: A Game of Life and Death in World War II…
“Here may be the most uniquely fascinating story ever written about World War II. Like the best of Buzz Bissinger, it is about far more than a football game, or even the war. He’s a gifted narrator and prodigious researcher, and in this book his skills are all on display: indelible characters, a bizarre and remarkably distinct setting, action, drama... a great story told with insight and humor and deep feeling. Do not pass this book by. It is magnificent.” — Mark Bowden, author of Black Hawk Down and Hue 1968
“The Mosquito Bowl is savage, piercing and haunting. Buzz Bissinger has written an utterly heartbreaking saga that fuses the macho glory of college football with the brutality and futility of combat. It is a measure of Bissinger’s singular talent that his searing account is tragic, yet also inspiring and unforgettable.” — David Zucchino, Pulitzer Prize winning author of Wilmington’s Lie
“Buzz Bissinger’s Friday Night Lights is an American classic. With The Mosquito Bowl, he is back with a true story even more colorful and profound. This book too is destined to become a classic. I devoured it.” — John Grisham
Harper, 9780062879929, 480pp.
Publication Date: September 13, 2022