From Publishers Weekly
Taylor's vivid recollection of nearly four years as a Japanese prisoner during WWII would have benefited from a tactful editor, but still remains riveting. An octogenarian and the former mayor of North Las Vegas, Taylor shipped out to Wake Island, 2,000 miles west of Oahu, Hawaii, as a civilian construction worker in 1941. He and more than a thousand other civilians assumed that the U.S. would evacuate them after Pearl Harbor, but the Japanese proved them wrong upon conquering the island two weeks later. Taylor's ordeal began with a stroke of luck: the Japanese transported him and most of his colleagues to a POW camp in China, later killing those remaining on Wake. There followed more than three years of starvation, disease, beatings and hard labor until, in May 1945, Taylor escaped and lucked out again when he ran into Mao Zedong's Communist forces, who guided him to safety. Taylor is best describing day-to-day events, rather than when he pauses to explain his religious views or Japanese culture. He credits his survival to God, but his gripping account makes it clear that he possessed both a tenacious will and entrepreneurial talent. (June)
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Taylor was a civilian contractor working on Wake Island when, on December 8, 1941, the Japanese attacked. After a harrowing, brave, but futile defense, the U.S. Marines surrendered and Taylor spent the next three-and-a-half years in various prison camps on mainland China. When conditions in his camp became intolerable, Taylor escaped, was recaptured, and then escaped again and was eventually rescued by Chinese troops commanded by Mao Zedong in northern China. This is an exciting account of those years, characterized by bravery, suffering, and endurance. Unfortunately, Taylor fills the first part of the book with a tedious account of his young life before 1941, and the effect is similar to watching a neighbor's home movies. Once he arrives on Wake Island, however, the action becomes intense and riveting. His description of life in POW camps reveals the brutality and sometimes outright sadism of his captors. His escapes are described in minute detail and are brimming with dramatic tension. This is a worthy, if uneven, story of one man's struggle for survival that is readable and often thrilling. Freeman, Jay Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved