The Mosquito Bowl: A Game of Life and Death in World War II (Hardcover)

The Mosquito Bowl: A Game of Life and Death in World War II By Buzz Bissinger Cover Image
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Instant New York Times Bestseller · Winner of the General Wallace M. Greene Jr. Award from the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation

“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

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, 15 of the 65 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. 

About the Author


Buzz Bissinger was born in 1954. He is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, whose books include the New York Times bestsellers 3 Nights in August and Friday Night Lights. He has served as a contributing editor for Vanity Fair and as a sports columnist for the Daily Beast, and has written for the New York Timesthe Washington Post, the New Republic, Time, and many other publications. He lives in both Southwestern Washington State and Philadelphia. He is married to Lisa Smith and has three children.

Praise For…


“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

“Take your pick: This is either the story of the most improbable game of football ever played, an anthem to immigrant America, or a brilliant tribute to an exemplary brotherhood that would be decimated at Okinawa. In every case it’s an indelible account of promising young men themselves hurled into history. Buzz Bissinger has stitched their story together as no one else could, powerfully and seamlessly, offering up a tender-tough tale in his signature high-octane prose.” —  Stacy Schiff, Pulitzer Prize winning author of The Witches: Salem, 1692

“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, New York Times bestselling author of Black Hawk Down and Hue 1968

"Harrowing, profound, and illuminating, The Mosquito Bowl humanizes war and elevates athletic competition in one fell swoop. Bissinger is the master of showing us life in a single grain of sand, and he has done so brilliantly here. As familiar as the subject of World War II may seem, this book makes you see it in a fresh and exquisite way, with all its pain and triumph rendered in close detail." — Susan Orlean, New York Times bestselling author of On Animals and The Library Book

“Stephen Crane famously discovered ‘the rage of conflict’ while watching a college football game. For Buzz Bissinger, football is no metaphor; it is the way into one of the bloodiest battles of World War II. Deeply researched, told with extraordinary empathy and verve, The Mosquito Bowl will break your heart.” — Nathaniel Philbrick, National Book Award winning author of In the Heart of the Sea and Travels with George

“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

"[Bissinger] succeeds brilliantly, interweaving rich back stories of a few superior college football players whose sports careers and lives were upended and often ended by war . . . . it changed the way I thought about World War II." — New York Times Book Review

“[This] remarkable work profoundly communicates the experience and importance of the United States Marine Corps while preserving a rich history that our Corps and Nation should never forget.” — From the Citation for the General Wallace M. Greene Award from the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation

A gripping real-life story.” — Washington Post

There simply aren’t enough ways to tell you just how good The Mosquito Bowl, Buzz Bissinger’s new book remembering a remarkable football game in the depths of the Pacific theater of World War II, is. Here’s one: it’s every bit as good—and maybe even better—than Friday Night Lights."Mike Vaccaro, New York Post

"The Mosquito Bowl adroitly resurrects a long-forgotten episode to explore American values across the generations." — Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

"Bissinger effortlessly combines sports and military history in this gritty account of a football game played by U.S. Marines on Guadalcanal in December 1944 . . . . The book excels in its sweeping yet fine-grained portraits of how these Marines got to Guadalcanal and in the harrowing descriptions of Pacific Theater combat, including the bloody fight for Sugar Loaf Hill on Okinawa. This is a penetrating tale of courage and sacrifice." — Publishers Weekly

"College football and World War II: not an obvious combination, but Bissinger handles it brilliantly." — Kirkus Reviews (starred review)

“From the virtuoso of narrative nonfiction and author of Friday Night Lights comes an astounding story, plucked straight from the annals of the Greatest Generation. Bissinger creates, in intricate detail, a composite portrait of young men caught up in the Not-So-Good War. An inspiring tale of heroism and sacrifice.” — Oprah Daily

"Fans of Bissinger’s previous books will find a rich character-driven narrative about two of the dirtiest and deadliest battlefields of World War II . . . . Bissinger has found a way to merge sports with World War II to give readers a heartbreaking narrative of what many young men went through in the last days of World War II. Highly recommended." — Library Journal (starred review)

"This well-researched and impassioned book not only chronicles a little-known moment in sports history but also offers a poignant snapshot of the tragedy of war." — Booklist

"The Mosquito Bowl is not just a book about war. It is, instead, about the men who fought that war. The author brings us rich details about their lives, their hopes, their dreams, and their aspirations, many of which were either delayed, derailed, or destroyed on Okinawa." — New York Journal of Books

"In exploring the hearts and souls of those who risked everything for their country, Bissinger’s book defines some of the qualities that make America great—then, now and forever. And such greatness characterizes exceptional men and women around the world. He also showcases the horrors of war and the blunders that cost lives on the battlefield." — Associated Press

"While The Mosquito Bowl is seemingly about an ersatz football game, there is far more here than what occurred on a dirt and coral field on an island in the Pacific in 1944." — Bookreporter

The Mosquito Bowl is about so much more than a football game. Buzz Bissinger captures the heart of America in this brilliant story of young men in a brutal war that at once feels long ago but also a part of who we are today.” — Admiral James Stavridis, 16th Supreme Allied Commander and Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Rockefeller Foundation

Bissinger brings the Pacific Theater home in this masterpiece of a book, written by an indomitable author who has never been afraid to confront truth in the written word.” — Coast Weekend

Bissinger unearths a profound story during World War II that is much more than a book about a football game.” — Jacksonville First Coast News

This book shows a new side of WWII—and football for that matter—like we have never seen it before. Sports fans, history buffs, and fiction lovers can all find common ground in this captivating read.” — We Are The Mighty



Product Details
ISBN: 9780062879929
ISBN-10: 0062879928
Publisher: Harper
Publication Date: September 13th, 2022
Pages: 480
Language: English

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