Published on September 22nd, 2012 | by Chris


Crusade in the Pacific: America at War (1951)


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On September 22, 2012
Last modified:October 24, 2012


Probably one of the definitive contemporary documentaries on the Pacific War, from before Pearl Harbor, to "current" events in 1951 Korea.

Crusade in the Pacific (1951)If you want to know about the US involvement in the Pacific during World War II, then this series, "Crusade in the Pacific: America at War is it.  I can't say I've seen a more exhaustive chronicle of the Pacific Theater, from a US-centric point of view, of course.

In 24 separate episodes roughly 30 minutes each, 'Crusade' journals the War through tons and tons of basically uncensored stock footage, along with the timeless voice of Westbrook Van Voorhis.  You'll know the voice when you hear it.  (Or you'll have flashbacks of all those elementary school films!)

What is it that makes this series so interesting?  I really can't put my finger on it.  Admittedly, it is 100% US centric, although it does make acknowledgement in several places to the British, Chinese, and Australian contributions.

Furthermore, it doesn't simply start at Pearl Harbor and end at Nagasaki.  The first three episodes are dedicated to events and conditions prior to Pearl Harbor.  The final three** (more on this later) deal with the surrender and occupation of Japan, the growing Communist tendencies in the region, culminating with the then-current events of the Korean War.

The biggest draw on this, for me anyway, was the completeness of it.  Very little was left "on the floor."  From the Aleutians, to Burma and India, to Okinawa and all points in between.  This covers it. Seriously, the amount of information and detail presented is really awesome.  Never to the point of overwhelming, but never boring or "fluffy."  Admittedly it took me a long time to finish the series, mainly due to the length!  One or two here or there.... you know.  It's very handy for those "I need something good to watch for the next 25 minutes!!!" moments.

Drawbacks?  If not for one thing, I would whole-heartedly recommend this as a teaching tool for the classroom.  What is that?  The matter-of-fact and sometimes gratuitous display of corpses.  Usually enemy bodies (but not always), usually disfigured or otherwise non-dignified....  The manner in which this comes across is really quite stark and achieves the purpose at each moment, which is to show just how nasty each of the respective battles could get.   And, I suspect, that the memory of these events would have still been fresh for a lot of people, so it was a little more palatable to see plenty of dead enemy Japanese....  Unfortunately.  The only saving grace is that it is 100% black and white, so the real brutality of these images is attenuated somewhat.  It's somewhat shocking to me that this would "clear" the various censoring agencies of the time, unless it never saw wide distribution and wasn't governed.... I really can't say.  It is interesting that the series does not carry the usual (in my opinion) overly harsh racist overtones that were present.  Maybe I didn't see them, but as I said, its all very "matter of fact."

** I say the "final" three, because I wonder if there are more episodes out there that have been lost to the ravages of time.  Episode 24 ends with a teasing of Episode 25....  which isn't there!  I don't know if it just never existed, or episodes past this point were lost.....  If anyone knows for sure....

Something else I have to comment on is the intro and "outro" music.  I'm not sure who came up with it, or whatever, but if I had to choose a piece of music that screamed "1951 war documentary!!!" more than this... I'm not sure I could.  You'll find yourself humming along later.  Trust me.  It's almost humorous its so "majestic" in a hymnal sort of way... but today it definitely seems "chest pounding" over the top.

So, put on your time-travelling clothes, place yourself in 1951 and soak it up.  Crusade in the Pacific: America at War is definitely a trip through the wayback machine, but one that is well worth the time invested, if you're interested in such things.  My recommendation would be to watch this before diving into a more modern series such as "The Pacific."  Events and references in that make more sense when viewed through a lens like this.

Here's but a taste.  Just search YouTube for "Crusade in the Pacific."  All 24 existing episodes appear to be up there.  Be educated!

Crusade in the Pacific Crusade in the Pacific
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Experience the epic television documentary event that chronicles all the bloody land, sea and air battles for the Pacific, produced by the legendary March Of Time newsreel unit and featuring never-before-seen footage from the archives of the U...

DVD Information

Binding: DVD
Aspect Ratio:
Audience Rating: NR (Not Rated)
Manufacturer: MPI HOME VIDEO
Original Release Date:
  • n/a


  • Factory sealed DVD


Customer Reviews
Average Customer Review
7 Reviews

9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Complete, Thoughtful - a "must-have" for anyone interested in WWII, January 21, 2014
ICUAlex (San Diego, CA) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Crusade in the Pacific (DVD)
Produced in the 1950's, this series of 26 approximately 30 minute episodes covers the U.S. war with Japan beginning before Pearl Harbor; starting with the rise of Japanese imperialism that grew after World War I, growing with the invasion of China and other Asian countries and ultimately culminating with defeat due to the use of the atomic bomb against Hiroshima and Nagasaki. I chose this 6-disc release from MPI Home Video rather than the other companies as the quality of discs, the packaging and the videos themselves seemed to be superior. I was not disappointed. Of course, the quality of audio and video does not compare with modern material but it is still quite good. The quality of the narration, in terms of being loaded with facts, while still maintaining an emotional quality of compassion and thoughtfulness, is very good and is quite superior to other WWII documentaries (Victory At Sea, for example). A good addition to anyone's video library.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What a great synopsis of the aftermath of wwII in the countries ..., September 6, 2015
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This review is from: Crusade in the Pacific (DVD)
this was worth getting for the final disc. What a great synopsis of the aftermath of wwII in the countries which were least involved in the war. Asia, China, all the islands and such more affected by Japan during the war had not been discussed on any of the other documentaries id seen, get it if for nothing but disc 6. All very basic stuff but for someone who really knows little of the history it was a nice introduction/overview.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth the money, January 4, 2017
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This review is from: Crusade in the Pacific (DVD)
Excellent series, well worth the time and money. Turned right around and ordered Crusade in Europe.
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Crusade in the Pacific: America at War (1951) Chris

Summary: One of the best documentary series on the Pacific theater during World War II.


User Rating: 0 (0 votes)

About the Author

I've been watching war movies for probably 25 years now. Since December 2006 I've been sharing my habit and passion for these movies here on this site.

One Response to Crusade in the Pacific: America at War (1951)

  1. the war movie buff says:

    Thanks. I’ve always been partial to the Pacific Theater. That’s an excellent recommendation – to watch some of this series before delving into The Pacific.

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