20.2.14

GHOST SOLDIERS

I found this book on an exchange table at a hotel on Lombok, Indonesia. I never would have considered it had I not just finished another book and was desperate for a new read. I hadn't expected to read more than a few pages; it's about war, and you'll never meet anyone more opposed to war than I am. A book review about a book published a long time ago gives you a chance to wander down memory lane. The memories in this book are harrowing, and the read is not for the faint of heart. The infamous Bataan death March was only a small part of the World War Two battles in the Philippine Islands. As the war in the Pacific was lurching toward its close, the Japanese had to come up with a solution to the thousands of American prisoners who had been held in captivity, some for three or more years. The High Command came up with the Nipponese version of Hitler's Final Solution: in effect, no American soldier was to be left alive. A camp several hours south of Manila held 300 emaciated, disease-ridden American and Filipino soldiers. This book is about their rescue. We hear, in some book reviews, how a tale is "touching", "heart-warming", "gut-wrenching", all those high-octane adjectives that usually deal with shattered families, thwarted loves, lost opportunities, comings of age. Ghost Soldiers gives you a finely-wrought view of the hell of war. A 5+.