An account of the extraordinary strength and courage exhibited by americans under the extreme and seemingly unending stress of three and a half years of captivity under the Japanese on Bataan. Photographs and maps.
Author Donald Knox has taken personal narratives from over sixty survivors of the Bataan death march and combined them into this gripping story of the struggle to survive. On April 9, 1942, the penninsula of Bataan fell into Japanese hands. The surrendering Americans were then subjected to a ninety mile march without adequate food or water. Men were shot and bayonetted for sport by the Japanese. Once the Americans reached their prison camp, they were herded into a tiny area with only two water spigots. Hundreds of men died each day from dysentery, malaria, and starvation. Many healthy men were soon reduced to skeletons. Others simply refused to go on any further. Still others found that the only way they could survive was to find a friend to help them get through.After two to three years of living in this nightmare, the American forces returned to liberate the Philippines. Fearing that the prisoners would be liberated by the returning Americans, the Japanese loaded the surviving POWs into "Hell Ships"; massively overcrowded freighters to be transferred to the Japanese home islands. Some of the men went mad, while others drowned when their ships were sunk by American submarines. Once in Japan, the men were forced to work long hours in Japanese factories and mines while still receiving little in the way of food or medical care. The conditions in the Japanese labor camps were as unimaginable as they were in the Philippines; little food and water and constant beatings by the Japanese guards.I've read several oral history books about World War II, and this book is one of the best. Knox lets the survivors' stories create this book. I was in awe of the horrible conditions that these men were forced to survive under. It is a true testament to the human spirit that these men were able to overcome the merciless beatings and the extermely meager food and water rations they received to survive and return home. Anyone who questions why the Americans used the atomic bomb should read about the Bataan prisoners and what they were forced to endure. I highly recommend this fine piece of oral history. Read it and understand what some of the true heroes of World War II did for their country.
Great resource of first hand acccounts.
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 22 years ago
This amazing collection of first-hand accounts of the survivors of the Bataan Death March is brutal but compelling reading. Donald Knox has interviewed an extensive collection of survivors and persuaded them to tell the excruciating details of their capture, their time in the camps and on work details and their release. Their stories are alternately shocking and inspiring. The book is an invaluable historical resource, and any student of the war in the Pacific will find it fascinating reading. Since it is presented as a collection of interviews from different sources, some familiarity with the story of Bataan and American POWs in Japan will help the reader place each story in the right context. These testimonials can be gruesome, but it's important that the POWs' stories be told.
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 23 years ago
This is a most remarkable narrative. The stories that Mr. Knox was able to record and then write is a most incredible journey. The reflections of the POW's and their sincerity, their ability to retell heart throbbing history. It is a truly incredible walk through history. The fact that there is almost zero public knowledge about this vital historical era is incredulous. As a member of a family that has been part of this significant section of history it has opened my eyes to what transpired. The book is filled with names of men who survived as well as those who perished at the hands of the Japanese cruelty. Through this book I have found information about a family member,and have been able to contact members of this group of American heroes. They may be fogotten by the American Public due to the economic policies of our own government, but will never be forgotten by the families of the survivors. Mr. Knox has perfromed a great deed for our society. His book should be on the shelves of all historians. Hopefully a second narrative will be done in the future with the notes that he received from these great Americans. On this eve of the fourth of July 2000, our prayers for the future, and to the health and safety of the survivors and their families.
The American Holocaust of World War II
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 24 years ago
Donald Knox wrote an excellent oral history of the experiences of the survivors of the surrender of Bataan and Corregidor. He did this while many of these men (now in the 70s and 80s) were still able to remember vividly their experiences. They detail in their own moving words the starvation, ill-treatment, executions and torture suffered in 3-1/2 years of imprisonment (Indeed, the famous beach scene from "Saving Private Ryan" could have been replicated on the Bataan Death March, only it was Japanese soldiers doing the dirty work to helpless prisoners). One statistic is telling: less than 2% of Americans captured by the Germans perished in captivity. Over HALF of Americans captured by the Japanese failed to return. Knox details how normal American soldiers sometime descended into almost-animal behavior in order to survive. It has been my great privilege to meet and write with many of these quiet, grandfatherly heroes. Their only wish is to have their sacrifices remembered. Knox did an outstanding job of accomplishing this. How about a "younger" version for students? This is history that needs to be remembered, just like Hiroshima.
A connection with a past the world has chosen to forget
Published by Thriftbooks.com User , 26 years ago
My father was taken prisoner by the Japanese when Corregidor fell in the spring of 1942. He spent three and a half years in POW camps in the Philippines and Japan. He has rarely spoken of this time, and I have always wondered what he went through and how he survived. Donald Knox's book reveals a story just as pitiful, just as filled with villains and heros, just as horrifying yet inspiring as "Schindler's List". It is the story of the fall of Bataan and Corregidor to the Japanese in the opening months of WWII - but more importantly, it is the story of the survivors, the American and Philippino troops taken prisoner by the Japanese. It tells the story, largely in the words of the survivors themselves, of the living hell they survived - created by the hatred or indifference of the Japanese. It is a story the world has known, but ignored, for 50 years. It is a story that should be told and recognized while the few remaining survivors, now in their 70's and 80's, are still alive. It is not a polemic. Not all Japanese are villains, not all Americans are heros. It is an indescribable experience that has shown me why my father is the man he is - why neither success nor failure, happyness or sadness has been able to destroy him. He is a survivor. He has lived through a hell that could of destroyed his life, but has managed to turn his back to it and go on with his life. I understand, at least a bit more, why he has no need to walk in veterens parades or wear his medals - even why he has no particular animosity towards the Japanese. Few things can scare or bother you in this life when you have already lived in hell. I wish Spielberg could read this book - it is a story that cries out to be retold to the world, not in vengence against the Japanese, but in vengence against war and stupidity themselves.
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