Ghost Soldiers is “The Epic Account of World War II’s Greatest Rescue Mission.’ (Esquire) an enthralling account of the heroic mission to rescue the last survivors of the Bataan Death March.
The Epic Account
On January 20,1945,121 hand-selected U.S. troops slipped behind enemy lines in the Philippines. Their mission: March thirty rugged miles to rescue 513 POWs’ languishing in a hellish camp, among them the last survivors of the infamous Bataan Death March. A recent prison massacre by Japanese soldiers elsewhere in Philippines made the stakes impossibly high and left little time to plan the complex operation.
In Ghost Soldiers-author-Hampton Sides vividly re-creates this draining raid, offering a minute-by-minute narration that unfolds alongside intimate portraits of the prisoners and their lives in the camp. Sides, shows how the POW’s banded together to survive, defying the Japanese authorities even as they endured starvation, tropical disease’s, and torture. Harrowing, poignant and inspiring, Ghost Soldiers is the mesmerizing story of a remarkable mission. It is also a testament to the human spirit, an account of enormous bravery and self-sacrifice amid the most trying conditions.
An extraordinary tale of bravery under fire and the will to endure.
When the Philippines fell to Japan in 1942, hundreds of Allied troops who survived the Bataan death march were imprisoned in the jungle camp of Cabanatuan. Some would be tortured, others executed without causes; all suffered starvation and illnesses such as “dengue fever, amoebic dysentery, bacillary dysentery, tertain malaria, cerebral malaria, typhus, typhoid.”
For three years “ghost soldiers” of Cabanatuan lived in earthy hell, and they would have remained there longer had an elite group of Rangers fighting with Douglas MacArthur’s invading army not planned and executed a rescue operation of tremendous emotional but doubtful strategic value-and one that could easily have ended in a costly disaster. Led by a young colonel named Henry Mucci (called “Little MacArthur” not only because he smoked a pipe incessantly but also because “he had, like The Supreme Commander, a firm grasp of the theatrics of warfare”), The Rangers penetrated deep within Japanese controlled territory, mounted an attack on the Japanese troops and tanks surrounding the camp, and led hundreds of Allied prisoners to safety-with thousands of enemy soldiers in hot and vengeful pursuit. Amazingly, the operation costs only a handful of casualties. Justly celebrated in its time (“Every child of coming generations will know of the 6th Rangers, for a prouder story has not been written,” declared one combat correspondent of the rescue), the Cabanatuan rescue has since been all but forgotten. Sides (Stomping Grounds, 1992) restores the episode to history in thoroughly researched and reported narrative that is careful in its attention to detail and never short of thrilling.
For more worthy than the celebrity-driven narratives of recent seasons, this is an exceptionally valuable addition to the popular literature surrounding World War II.
Get this wonderfully written non-fiction book, written by Hampton Sides, Ghost Soldiers-The epic account of World War II Greatest Rescue Mission
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