Undefeated: America's Heroic Fight for Bataan and Corregidor

Undefeated: America's Heroic Fight for Bataan and Corregidor

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by Bill Sloan
     
 

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Based on exclusive interviews with more than thirty survivors, Undefeated tells the courageous story of the outnumbered American soldiers and airmen who stood against invading Japanese forces in the Philippines at the beginning of World War II, and continued to resist through three harrowing years as POWs.

Bill Sloan, "a master of the combat narrative"

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Overview

Based on exclusive interviews with more than thirty survivors, Undefeated tells the courageous story of the outnumbered American soldiers and airmen who stood against invading Japanese forces in the Philippines at the beginning of World War II, and continued to resist through three harrowing years as POWs.

Bill Sloan, "a master of the combat narrative" (Dallas Morning News), captures the valor, fortitude, and agony of the American defenders of the Philippines. Abandoned by their government, the men and women of the U.S. garrison battled hopeless military odds, rampant disease, and slow starvation to delay the inevitable surrender of the largest American military force ever. For four months they fought toe to toe against overwhelming enemy numbers—and forced the Japanese to pay a heavy cost in blood for every inch of ground they gained on the Bataan peninsula. After the surrender came the infamous Bataan Death March, where up to eighteen thousand American and Filipino prisoners died or were murdered as they marched sixty-five miles under the most hellish conditions imaginable.

Rather than picturing these defenders as little more than helpless victims of a powerful and sadistic enemy—as have most previous books about the Philippine campaign—Undefeated tells the full story of the remarkable courage and indomitable will that cost the Japanese invaders thousands of casualties on Bataan and Corregidor. Interwoven throughout this gripping narrative are the harrowing personal experiences of dozens of American soldiers, airmen, and Marines. Sloan also provides vivid portraits of the officers who led the American forces, such as General Douglas MacArthur, who escaped to Australia as the situation on Bataan worsened, and General Jonathan Wainwright, who succeeded him as top U.S. commander in the Philippines and himself became a prisoner of the Japanese.

Undefeated chronicles one of the great sagas of World War II—and celebrates a resounding triumph of the human spirit.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Sloan (The Ultimate Battle: Okinawa 1945) adds to his reputation as a chronicler of the mid-century American military experience with this account of the service men and women who fought the battles of Bataan and Corregidor in the half-year after Pearl Harbor. His perspective is unusual. The defense of the Philippines has been condemned, in the words of one poet, as “a wasted hope and a sure defeat.” Sloan tells the entire story—of military defeat but human triumph—relying heavily on participants’ interviews and accounts to describe the fighting, the surrender, and the Bataan death march. He carries the story through the squalid POW camps, the mass deportation to Japan for slave labor, and the guerrilla war fought by the few successful escapees. He concluded that survivors desperately faced mass murder as Japan confronted defeat. Yet this is not a narrative of survival. Sloan presents a story of sustained heroism under unimaginable conditions, of indomitable spirit that brought order to the chaos of prison camps and held together the human cargoes of “hell ships,” deliberately left unidentified and attacked by American submarines. Sloan demonstrates that if captivity is a state of being, defeat is only a state of mind. 16 pages of b&w photos, 4 maps. Agent: Jim Donovan, Jim Donovan Literary. (Apr.)
Library Journal
Although the title seems counterintuitive for a book on the worst military defeat in American history, Sloan focuses on the incredibly trying and undeniably heroic experiences of those caught up in the Japanese invasion of the Philippines. Before the war, being stationed near Manila was not considered a hardship, but after Pearl Harbor life changed for American soldiers in the region. Under intense pressure from Japanese army forces, American units on the island of Luzon retreated first to Manila then, as the situation deteriorated, to the Bataan Peninsula and eventually to Corregidor. A few slipped away into the countryside and organized guerrilla bands that operated—living in constant danger from Japanese soldiers, disease, and betrayal—until the islands were retaken. Very few escaped, barely, before the collapse. Survivors of these battles ended up in prison camps in Japan and Manchuria, where they endured torture and starvation. A Pulitzer Prize-nominated former reporter, Sloan (The Darkest Summer: Pusan and Inchon 1950) interviewed survivors and makes extensive use of oral histories in this personal look at what soldiers experienced as their comfortable garrison lives disintegrated. VERDICT This accessible narrative will appeal to many military history fans for its themes of bravery, sacrifice, and patriotism. [See Prepub Alert, 10/28/11.]—Edwin B. Burgess, U.S. Army Combined Arms Research Lib., Fort Leavenworth, KS
Kirkus Reviews
A skillful step-by-step description of the brutal and heroic but mismanaged 1941–42 campaign in the Philippines. Veteran military historian Sloan (The Darkest Summer: Pusan and Inchon 1950, 2009) delivers his usual vivid, energetic battle account. Using reminiscences from a dozen survivors, he introduces prewar Philippines, a tropical paradise with an army led by the imperious General Douglas MacArthur, who insisted a Japanese invasion was impossible. Learning of Pearl Harbor, he remained curiously idle, allowing Japanese planes to destroy his air and naval defenses. After the December invasion, Philippine and American forces retreated to the Bataan peninsula, fighting valiantly until April 1942. The island fortress of Corregidor surrendered a month later. Readers should steel themselves for what followed as Japanese forces treated captives despicably during the Bataan death march and then starved and abused them in prison camps. No revisionist, Sloan delivers the traditional image of MacArthur ("brilliant general with inflated ego"), yet no brilliance is detectable as MacArthur neglected to supply Bataan until it was too late. As a result, starvation and disease decimated his troops. Safe on Corregidor, he allowed subordinates to conduct operations while sending out a torrent of press releases containing dramatic, heartwarming and often fictional accounts of how his genius was frustrating overwhelmed Japanese forces; in fact, his forces outnumbered theirs two to one. Aided by a fawning media, he emerged a national hero when commanders of all other early World War II debacles (Pearl Harbor, Hong Kong, Singapore, Burma, Dunkirk) were disgraced. Sloan writes expertly of the soldiers' courage battling the Japanese, but readers must search elsewhere (Richard Connaughton, H.P. Willmott) for the latest insight into the competence of their leader.
From the Publisher
"Sloan demonstrates that if captivity is a state of being, defeat is only a state of mind." —Publishers Weekly

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781439199640
Publisher:
Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
04/24/2012
Pages:
401
Product dimensions:
6.42(w) x 9.32(h) x 1.26(d)

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From the Publisher
"Sloan demonstrates that if captivity is a state of being, defeat is only a state of mind." —-Publishers Weekly

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