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Escape From Davao: The Forgotten Story of the Most Daring Prison Break of the Pacific War [Hardcover] Unknown Binding – 2010

4.6 out of 5 stars 277 customer reviews

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Product Details

  • Unknown Binding
  • ASIN: B0042L0F3A
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (277 customer reviews)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By R. Slater on June 13, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
[i]Escape From Davao[/i] by John D. Lukacs. Simon & Schuster, 2010. 429 pp.

I heard about this book only about a week or 10 days ago. Although I meant to wait a bit, I just couldn't (My mother always said I lacked patience!) and an order through Amazon followed. I received the book late last week.

I had read William Dyess' book [i]The Dyess Story[/i] in junior high. Then, my occasional meeting with Sam Gashio, increased my interest. I was a bit suspicious of Lukacs' credentials, since this was his first book and he is a sportswriter by trade.

Lukacs did an excellent job on the book and it sort of capped all the other stories of the escape from Davao Penal Colony in early 1943 by 10 Americans and two Filipinos. Althought the story has been told by several of the escapees, this is the first recent history. ("10 Escape From Tojo" was a gathering of the "Life" Magazine articles of 1944).

The book was divided roughly into four parts: 1) biographies of all twelve and what they did prior to the surrender. 2) The Bataan Death March and capture (a few were captured on Corregidor or on other places; 3) Life in prison camp and the escape; 4) Arriving home and the attempts to get the story of the POW camps published (one escapee was recaptured several months later and executed).

Many of the wartime accounts had to skim over what happened during the actual escape attempts until arrival in Australia. Lukacs did a good job of showing the troubles and difficulties in reaching the guerrillas and proving they were legitimate escapees. He also describes the rivalry between Wendall Fertig and other guerrilla leaders. I had always thought the escapees left together, but they were evacuated in three groups over several months.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As June 6 is observed as a day of commemoration for D-Day, the world pays their respect to those who fought the European theater of World War II off the shores of Normandy in 1944. But another greater part of the war had also been occurring within the other side of world, the War in the Pacific, and a war within the home front involving disclosure of POWs within this front of the war and uplifting the censorship that same year that would reveal the complexities and misconceptions that took place two years prior, a few months later after Pearl Harbor, and in the Philippines, the infamous Bataan Death March in 1942. John D. Lukacs takes into account and clarifies the major events by acknowledging and recognizing the forgotten heroes that returned as well as those who did not in his detailed narrative Escape From Davao: The Forgotten Story of the Most Daring Prison Break of the Pacific War.

Lukacs elaborately documents the circumstances surrounding the Bataan Death March and the American and Filipino forces that were taken prisoner by the Imperial Japanese Army and sent to Davao Penal Colony awaiting the imminent. However, this would be one of the successful prison breaks to occur during the war, and Major William E. Dyess would be responsible for leading the men to freedom earning the Distinguished Flying Cross and later recommended to receive the Congressional Medal of Honor but also pursuing another war, exposing the horrid conditions that thousands of individuals had to experience during the torrential ordeal that would eventually be posthumously shown in his own account Bataan Death March: A Survivor's Account.
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Format: Hardcover
Due to John D. Lukacs' excellent reporting, this gut-wrenching story of the defeat of American forces in the Philippines and their inhumane treatment at the hands of their Japanese captors still has the immediacy today that it did in 1942 and 1943. And the escape of ten of those prisoners has a truth-is-stranger-than-fiction ring, despite the passage of time. And nearly as amazing as their escape was the remarkable reaction of the War Department and of the White House to the message they brought home. They were forbidden to tell anyone what they'd seen. They weren't even allowed to speak to the families of prisoners who were still in captivity. Policy makers were perfectly aware that America's "Europe First" strategy would be questioned once the Japanese atrocities were known. But once the story was told, the American public began purchasing war bonds with a frenzy, proving that the gag order was a monumental blunder.

Lukacs brings every scene to life with recreated reality: "Leaning his angular frame against a post, Dyess struck a match to light a cigarette; the flame illuminated his hunger-chiseled features and serious demeanor. After a whispering sizzle of glowing red tobacco and burning paper, he exhaled his thoughts in hushed tones." And as the escapees listened to jungle drums in the night, "It must have seemed as though they were traveling not just through a wild jungle, but through time itself."

Lukacs puts the Japanese atrocities in stark perspective: While only one percent of Allied prisoners died in captivity, thirty-seven percent would perish at the hands of the Japanese. Lukacs also concludes that this incident would forever shape the way Americans got war news; even the most shocking news would never again be suppressed.

Here are a couple of errata for a subsequent printing: p. 77: "pastry" should be "pasty." P. 144, in two places, "Abes-san" should be "Abe-san."
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