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Carpe Librum

Bookish conversation with author Samantha Wilcoxson.


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Historical Novel Society

Ghost Soldiers: The Epic Account of World War II's Greatest Rescue Mission - Hampton Sides This book is an honest, thought-provoking account of events that it seems unbelievable are not common knowledge. Sides explains the atrocities POW's experienced at the hands of the Japanese Imperial Army during WWII on the Philippine island of Luzon. He also does his best to explain why they behaved that way and what it was about the Japanese culture that created this environment ripe for cruelty. A handful of men are followed through the American surrender on Luzon, the Bataan Death March, years of death, sickness and cruelty, and finally their rescue. In alternating chapters he spells out the efforts of the Rangers preparing to rescue the "ghost soldier" POW's and other people's efforts to help them. It is a moving, sad, and infuriating story, and one that everyone should read. I do not personally understand why so much more is known (by the general public) about the war in Europe as opposed to the war in the Pacific or why German atrocities are so much more loudly spoken against. Is it our guilt as American's for bombing Hiroshima and Nagasaki, our need to get along with Japan for economic (and other) reasons, or something else? In this book, Sides also does not portray the Americans as saints compared to their demon enemy. He retells several instances and decisions made that do not necessarily paint an American in a positive light. It is honest and heartbreaking and a fitting reminder of things we should not have forgotten.