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Posted March 18, 2003
I was privileged to grow up in southern NM and to have met several of the survivors of the Bataan Death March who were members of the 200th Coast Artillery Regiment. Dorothy Cave has collected dozens of first person accounts of the story of this regiment and, more importantly, the best detailed accounts of what happened on the Bataan Death March and the three years and a half years of captivity that followed. If you only own one book on the experiences of American POWs in the Pacific theater of operations, this is the definitive book on the subject with a much broader perspective than the title implies.<p> Although it's been several years since I read the book many of the events described are hard to forget. This book is worth reading (and the cover price) if you are interested in the siege of Corregidor, the Death March, the internment in the Philipines, the trip below decks in the 'hell ships' to the Japanese mainland and Manchurian prison camps, and the liberation in 1945. <p> Among the many interesting facts I learned was that after their liberation in 1945, most of the survivors were not permitted to return to the United States for several months because their physical condition, which was very much the same as that of survivors of the Nazi concentration camps (photos are included in the book that substantiate this claim), was thought to have been too apalling to the American public and their families. Most were told that the abuse, disease and malnourishment that they had suffered had probably made the sterile but fortunately, time proved this diagnosis to be incorrect. <p> One soldier recounts that the senior American officer at the prison camp in which he was held prisoner was made to stand at attention daily before the Japanese camp commander and be taunted by him. For three years the Japanese commander told the American officer that if he had any honor he would have committed suicide rather than surrender. The day before US forces arrived outside the camp, the Japanese commander offered his surrender and his sword to the American officer who in turn gave the sword back and suggested that the Japanese officer 'do the honorable thing.' The Japanese officer declined to follow his own advice. Although forced to work in factories to produce war material for the Japanese, the American POWs claimed to have sabotaged every piece of equipment in subtle ways so that rifles would fail after firing only a few shots, breeches of larger weapons would explode, and engines were assembled with loose metal in the cylinders.Was this review helpful? Yes NoThank you for your feedback. Report this reviewThank you, this review has been flagged.
Posted February 3, 2009
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