The Fallen: A True Story of American POWs and Japanese Wartime Atrocities

The Fallen: A True Story of American POWs and Japanese Wartime Atrocities

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by Marc Landas
     
 

When a rumor first crossed Special Agent Philip Cheles’s desk in November 1945, there was no way to imagine the horror he would soon discover. Determined to uncover the truth behind an informant’s report of a downed B-29 plane–and the assertion that one or more of the survivors had perished at the hands of local villagers–Cheles ultimately

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Overview

When a rumor first crossed Special Agent Philip Cheles’s desk in November 1945, there was no way to imagine the horror he would soon discover. Determined to uncover the truth behind an informant’s report of a downed B-29 plane–and the assertion that one or more of the survivors had perished at the hands of local villagers–Cheles ultimately learned that nine soldiers had been captured and placed in the custody of the infamous Kempei Tai, the much-feared Japanese police. Further details surfaced about American POWs and their shocking fate. A benign investigation eventually exploded into the most sensational war crimes trial to come out of Japan.

The Fallen at last reveals the full story of these terrifying war crimes, which grew out of the little-known inner workings of Japan’s World War II biological warfare program. In frank, riveting detail, Marc Landas unravels the story of thirty-nine American POWs who were beheaded by the Japanese military; of the B-29 crew, who suffered an even worse fate at the hands of Japanese scientists; and of the sole American survivor, Marvin Watkins, who refused to forget about his lost comrades even when his own country simply wanted to move on.

Drawing on meticulous research, Landas deftly traces the course of the investigation, from the elaborate cover-up by Japanese soldiers to Watkins’s return to occupied Japan and his role in uncovering the crew’s ultimate fate. Landas reveals the wretched conditions of Japanese POW camps, the astonishing witness testimony at the trial, and the awful truth about the missing G.I.s–that they had served as guinea pigs in unspeakable experiments by Japanese doctors. Landas pieces together the crewmen’s horrific fate and in the process sheds new light on Japan’s biological warfare program during World War II.

To compound the tragedy, the U.S. authorities released the convicted perpetrators for political gain. Landas explains how the push to establish a lasting friendship with Japan led to the cover-up of data and the granting of clemency. The result today is that the Japanese war crimes tribunal–and, indeed, the Americans who gave their lives–have all but been forgotten.

The Fallen at last reveals the truth about an episode that both Japanese and American authorities would rather have us overlook, offering an appalling, eye-opening tale of misguided science, corrupt justice, and man’s inhumanity.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Freelance writer and reporter Landas takes a look at the horrific deaths of dozens of American POWs during the last few months of World War II.  Beyond the more widely reported horrors of the Bataan Death March, 39 of these men were beheaded by the Japanese in retaliation for American bombings and the surrender by the emperor.  Eight more were used in medical experiments: dissected while still alive or subjected to the pumping of seawater into their veins.  Landas follows the lengthy investigation into these grisly deaths and the subsequent war crimes trials.  Finally, he shows that most of those found guilty of the atrocities were set free for political reasons as the Cold War heated up and the United States needed a friendly Japanese government.  A timely effort, this well-written book is highly recommended for both public and academic libraries. – Charles M. Minyard (ret.), U.S. Army, Blountstown, FL (Library Journal, July 2004)
Library Journal
Freelance writer and reporter Landas takes a look at the horrific deaths of dozens of American POWs during the last few months of World War II. Beyond the more widely reported horrors of the Bataan Death March, 39 of these men were beheaded by the Japanese in retaliation for American bombings and the surrender by the emperor. Eight more were used in medical experiments: dissected while still alive or subjected to the pumping of seawater into their veins. Landas follows the lengthy investigation into these grisly deaths and the subsequent war crimes trials. Finally, he shows that most of those found guilty of the atrocities were set free for political reasons as the Cold War heated up and the United States needed a friendly Japanese government. A timely effort, this well-written book is highly recommended for both public and academic libraries.-Charles M. Minyard (ret.), U.S. Army, Blountstown, FL Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780471421191
Publisher:
Wiley
Publication date:
07/05/2004
Pages:
304
Product dimensions:
6.30(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.10(d)

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"A gripping account of one of the darkest secrets of World War II: the systematic torture and vivisection of American pilots by Japanese scientists, for biological warfare research. Almost sixty years after the fact, revisionists continue to deny these horrors, but THE FALLEN provides indisputable evidence that Japan had indeed subjected American prisoners of war to live medical experiments - such as mutilating their organs, draining their blood, and pumping seawater into their veins. The post-war decision by the US government to protect Japan's Josef Mengele-like criminals is almost as shocking as the atrocities themselves." — Iris Chang, the New York Times best-selling author of THE RAPE OF NANKING and THE CHINESE IN AMERICA.

"A riveting and horrifying tale. Landas’ meticulous and imaginative detective work reconstructs a long-buried investigation that implicates not just a few rogue soldiers but Japanese scientists, professors, and politicians, abetted by an American cover-up at the highest levels. An important book that fills a gap in the story of World War II. The best part of the story is the courage of a lone American flyer, loyal to his comrades even in the face of torture, whose ordeal unfolds with vivid immediacy." —Philip Gerard, author of SECRET SOLDIERS

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Meet the Author

MARC LANDAS is a freelance writer who has written for numerous Internet and print publications, including FOXNews.com and The Source. He has contributed extensively to various urban market magazines as a political reporter and book reviewer. Landas is currently writing a history of professional tennis. He lives in New York.

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The Fallen: A True Story of American POWs and Japanese Wartime Atrocities 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Expat-in-Asia More than 1 year ago
This book will shock you in a way that is probably necessary. The great untold horror story of the modern world are the countless acts of torture, human experimentation, mass murder, and use of biological weapons by Imperial Japan before and during WWII. We in the US hear bits about the Nanjing atrocities and others that are always quickly watered down by pro-Japan journalists as "Chinese propaganda." But we dont think about it much anyway because the atrocities were committed against "other people." Reading this book will clarify that Americans were also victims of atrocities, in this case, biological experimentation. Unlike Germany, which faced its ugly truths, Japan remains unrepentant, unapologetic, and in bald-faced denial. This is the shame of the country and something that Americans should know about.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Guest More than 1 year ago
when i first picked this book up i wasn't sure that i'd want to read about something as morbid as 30- something beheadings and human scientific experiments. but as i got into the story i discovered an interesting side story about one of the pows who made it home and put his life (and a waiting wife) on hold just to see that justice was served. it's just the kind of uplifting sacrifice that makes that generation the Greatest Generation. i was pleasantly surprised. so far as procedurals go, it was solid as well.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I found the book to be an outstanding piece of history as it recounted, what to me, was complete and utter barbarity on the part of the Japanese during the Second World War. Once I started reading it, I couldn't stop. Recommended for anyone interested in World War 2 or History.