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Ghost soldiers : the forgotten epic story of World War II's most dramatic mission
2001
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Fiction/Biography Profile
Genre
NonFiction
History
Topics
World War II
Military strategy
Military history
Concentration camps
Prisoners of war
Military campaigns
Military missions
Military leadership
Soldiers
Special forces
War heroes
Torture
War memories
Setting
Philippines - Southeast Asia
United States
Time Period
1939-1945 -- 20th century
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Trade Reviews

  Library Journal Review

Reports by survivors of a massacre of prisoners in the Palawan, Phillipines, prisoner-of-war stockade prompted U.S. Army leaders to send a small mobile force to another prisoner-of-war camp and liberate the inmates before their Japanese Army guards could repeat the action. The Cabantuan prisoners were the remnants of the benighted force left on Bataan three years before and forced to march without provisions and endure atrocities along the way to their encampment a brutal trek later known as the Bataan Death March. Highly motivated, fit, well provisioned, and trained for this kind of action, the 6th Ranger Battalion had orders to bring out the camp inmates, "even if you have to carry them on your backs." Reinforced with local guerillas, the detachment executed a forced march of 30 miles behind enemy lines in just a day, then organized the attack and-.Since this story is written in a voice that makes us continually guess the outcome, it would seem unfair to continue with a story outline. Outside contributor Sides (Stomping Grounds) gives us insight into the hardships of such a venture, and with recollections from the participants and historical background this becomes a richly written document of the last year of World War II. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 1/01.] Mel D. Lane, Sacramento, CA (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

  Publishers Weekly Review

HPopular writer and Outside columnist Sides (Stomping Grounds) interviewed participants in one of WWII's little-known exploits the rescue of 500 American and Allied POWs from Cabanatuan prison camp on the Philippine island of Luzon. This gripping account intertwines the tale of these prisoners, who were survivors of the horrible Bataan Death March in 1942, and 121 officers and men of the army's Sixth Ranger Battalion. Led by Colonel Henry Mucci and Captain Robert Prince, these Rangers, who had yet to taste active combat, trekked 30 miles behind Japanese lines to effect the rescue, haunted all the while by the knowledge that if their secret mission was leaked, the POWs would probably be massacred by their captors. Sides includes the heroic efforts of Claire Phillips and other resistance fighters to keep the Americans supplied with accurate intelligence, and the scores of villagers who helped the POWs to safety. Some Alamo Scouts and two Filipino guerrilla groups provided no small assistance to Mucci and his men. The raid itself was almost anticlimactic as the Rangers burst into the POW compound, eliminating the garrison and bringing out the inmates in less than half an hour. It's a tale worthy of a Hollywood movie (and film rights have been optioned by Universal). The author's excellent grasp of human emotions and bravery makes this a compelling book hard to put down. (May 15) Forecast: This is for fans of Flags of Our Fathers who have been waiting for another installment. First serial rights have been sold to Esquire, and the author is booked on the Today Show. With more exposure like that, and with blurbs coming from the likes of David Halberstam and Jon Krakauer, this should sell hugely. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Summary
A tense, powerful, grand account of one of the most daring exploits of World War II.<br> <br> On January 28, 1945, 121 hand-selected troops from the elite U.S. Army 6th Ranger Battalion slipped behind enemy lines in the Philippines. Their mission: March thirty miles in an attempt to rescue 513 American and British POWs who had spent three years in a surreally hellish camp near the city of Cabanatuan. The prisoners included the last survivors of the Bataan Death March left in the camp, and their extraordinary will to live might soon count for nothing--elsewhere in the Philippines, the Japanese Army had already executed American prisoners as it retreated from the advancing U.S. Army. As the Rangers stealthily moved through enemy-occupied territory, they learned that Cabanatuan had become a major transshipment point for the Japanese retreat, and instead of facing the few dozen prison guards, they could possibly confront as many as 8,000 battle-hardened enemy troops.<br> <br> Hampton Sides's vivid minute-by-minute narration of the raid and his chronicle of the prisoners' wrenching experiences are masterful. But Ghost Soldiers is far more than a thrilling battle saga. Hampton Sides explores the mystery of human behavior under extreme duress--the resilience of the prisoners, who defied the Japanese authorities even as they endured starvation, tropical diseases, and unspeakable tortures; the violent cultural clashes with Japanese guards and soldiers steeped in the warrior ethic of Bushido; the remarkable heroism of the Rangers and Filipino guerrillas; the complex motivations of the U.S. high command, some of whom could justly be charged with abandoning the men of Bataan in 1942; and the nearly suicidal bravado of several spies, including priests and a cabaret owner, who risked their lives to help the prisoners during their long ordeal.<br> <br> At once a gripping depiction of men at war and a compelling story of redemption, Ghost Soldiers joins such landmark books as Flags of Our Fathers , The Greatest Generation , The Rape of Nanking , and D-Day in preserving the legacy of World War II for future generations.
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