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on April 3, 2017
This is a fascinating account of a prison escape by a group of US POWs in the Philippines in World War II. After surviving the Bataan Death March and horrific prison camp conditions, they were eventually transferred to the Davao penal colony, where a small group of soldiers hatched an escape plan and somehow survived.

The book is interesting for a lot of reasons: First, I didn't know much about the War in the Pacific as it related to Japanese treatment of Americans, which was truly shocking. The book provides a statistic about the number of POWs who died at the hands of the Japanese in the Pacific versus the number who died at the hands of the Germans and Italians in Europe, and the difference is staggering. Additionally, the hostile terrain of of the Philippines made escape that much more difficult.

I was also unfamiliar with the guerrilla network in the Philippines. Without giving too much away, it was critical to the escapees' long-term survival.

I thought the last quarter of the book dragged a little bit and could've been summarized into a few pages, but overall, it was a quick read with some moments of white-knuckled terror. I highly recommend.
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on April 17, 2013
My father in law was a survivor from Corregidor in 1942. I had heard many of his horror stories as well as a few humorous ones. His descriptions of the inhumane treatment at the hands of the Japanese was borne out in this book. The escape itself should have been a wake up call to our government about the treatment being doled out to our prisoners in the Philippines. Unfortunately, the Europe first policy prevented our government from acknowledging what they knew about the fate of our gallent, as well as our allies gallent soldiers, sailors, airmen,marines and countless civilians.

The story of this escape is very thorough and informative to a new generation that perhaps have become blinded by the fact that this war took place 70 years ago against an enemy who we now consider a staunch ally. The whole world needs to be reminded about the horrors of war and that not every enemy combatant treats their captives in a humane manner.

That being said, the story of the escape ends approximately 50% of the way through the book. The balance is a more boring epilogue. Four stars is the best I can offer.
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on January 30, 2014
The author, John D. Lukacs, completed a brilliant, well-crafted, and painstakingly researched book. He traveled throughout the United States and the Philippine Islands to research and gather impressions and first-hand accounts of this story - a truly courageous story of heroic escapees including Marines, air corpsmen, soldiers, and a naval officer.

There have been many historically valuable stories written about the events in the Philippines during World War II, and several written about the Battle of Bataan, the Bataan Death March, and escapees from the inhumane treatment by the Imperial Forces. That includes some revealing books written about this specific escape from Davao Penal Colony... Dapecol on Mindanao Island in the southern Philippines. I recently finished a remarkable book entitled Return to Freedom by Sam Grashio, one of the army air corpsmen pilots who participated in this successful escape. Return to Freedom: The War Memoirs of Colonel Samuel C. Grashio U.S.A.F.

The central character in this story is Major William Edwin Dyess. Ed Dyess was one of several thousand American military men who fought the invading Japanese in the Battle of Bataan, survived the Bataan Death March, and a year of imprisonment, torture, starvation, disease, and slavery at the hands of those Imperial Forces. Dyess and nine other American POWs performed a miraculously successful escape of Dapecol in order to "get the word out" to America - the word about the inhumane, sadistic violations of the Geneva Convention and the beastly atrocities perpetrated by the Japanese military. However, when the escapees returned to the U.S., the Roosevelt administration didn't want that information released to the general public. The escapees were even threatened with courts-martial in order to silence them. This is a dark day in U.S. history. The Roosevelt administration would look very callous if this information was released. After all, our federal government had abandoned the American armed forces to pursue a Europe First policy - a strategy that left thousands of besieged Americans with no reinforcements and no resupply of food, medicine, arms, or ammunition.

Eventually the story was uncensored when the government realized that the public outrage would be primarily directed toward the enemy in the Pacific. The accompanying bond drive immediately stimulated double the sales of the War Bonds.

Lukacs performed a remarkable task in shedding light on every aspect of these events. This story should be read and appreciated by everyone. And these events in the Philippines are especially personal to me since my uncle was one of those unaided air corpsmen left on Bataan. I can empathize with all these abandoned Americans. Escape From Davao: The Forgotten Story of the Most Daring Prison Break of the Pacific War

Buckshot Pie is another interesting book covering the abandonment of our troops on Bataan. You can discover more about the subject at This intriguing and emotionally powerful book can be purchased through Barnes and Noble or at Thank you for your time and consideration. Buckshot Pie, a Family's Struggle Through Homesteading, the Great Depression, and World War II
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on December 23, 2015
The interesting thing about first person accounts of the battle for the Philippine Islands is how personal an event the war was in many ways. This book is no exception. It focuses on a very narrow person history of a few men who managed to escape from a terrible Japanese prison camp at Davao.

The book starts with the terrible situation of becoming a prison of war and the horrors the Japanese inflicted on our captured men and women. The list of offences is quite extensive and ironically, if memory serves me, the officer in charge of this prison managed to escape justice.

Regardless, we can all agree, the situation was beyond repair and many men chose to escape to fight another day. This is the story of one of those men and his escape from Davao Prison. He was the ring leader of a dozen men who escaped that day.

What follows is the story of men dealing with inhospitable jungles, potentially dangerous locals, and a desperate attempt to avoid the Japanese on the way to freedom. Ultimately, it leads to a daring escape by sea.

The book is solid enough to be made into an interesting movie. It is well written and very entertaining. It also provides a good deal of historical information regarding the situation within the Philippines and the desperate situation involving so many Americans on that island during the war.

I liked the book a great deal. If you enjoyed this book you might also want to read, “Lt. Ramsey’s war,” about Lt. Ramsey’s experiences as a guerrilla leader behind enemy lines. I would also suggest, “South from Corregidor,” by Lt. Cmdr. John Morrill
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on June 16, 2011
The author does an excellent job and is well researched. These men endured things that most people couldn't imagine. I know as my father, Col. Ernest E. McClish was one of those men. I know that surviving on bugs and bark, jumping down from trees on enemy supply lines, and knowing that as an officer - if you were caught - your head could well end up on a poll as a lesson to other US commanders. War is no walk in the park, and this war is often overlooked, particularly this story that is amazingly presented. The author did interviews and his personal interest is evident in a very gripping book! This book would be excellent alone if it were fiction, but it is a true story! - C.McClish
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on December 10, 2011
I was both shocked and thrilled when I saw William Dyess' picture on the first edition of this book. He looked just as he did to me 70 years ago when my brother and I walked 4 houses down our dirt street to his parent's house. He had just returned from the Pacific war, though we didn't know from where. But he was our town hero, and spoke to some 2,000 of our local residents at the local football field. No one knew what he really wanted to say. I was top secret.

I recall the Samauri sword he showed us, which he said was used to behead someone. Of course, I recoiled at that. And then he left his hometown to return to the war.

It was such a tragedy that William was killed before the hidden secret was revealed by the Chicago Tribune and became a front-page exclusive serial. His diary was then released by his widow and told the story in his own words.

The Bataan Death March and the exploits of Dyess' fighter squadron to save Manila and the Phillipines actually began one day before Pearl Harbor. With only one airplane resting in a swamp, the mechanics band-aided it together to fly out officers to Corregidor. Dyess had been ordered to leave with the company, but refused rather than abandon his men. The airplane was called "The Candy Clipper", and I got to see it in the WWII aircaft museum in Orlando, Florida...where it still flies.

Several years ago I was in Australia staying with friends. The wife told me that she had worked in downtown Brisbane after the war. Her desk was something she was so proud of. But not knowing its history, one day men came in and took her desk--which made her upset. Then they identified it: it was the very desk MacArthur used when he directed the war from Brisbane. So I went there and climbed the stairs to that place and stood behind that desk
because I had a picture of Dyess and two other officers standing beside the General. MacAuthur decorated Dyess and knew of the secret he was ordered to give to President Roosevelt. So sad that Dyess never received the Medal of Honor, for which he was recommended.

John Luckas' book is a classic, superbly written and amazingly just as alive as if he had been walking in Dyess' footsteps, though he himself now lives three generations removed.

Mary E. Adams
Wasilla, Alaska
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on May 23, 2013
My review is biased, and perhaps doubly so, because I am a Marine and I personally knew the last surviving member of the escape party. For me the author sets an appropriate stage by establishing just who the men in the book were as individuals and how they reacted before and during the fall of Corregidor. This was a bit of a tip of the skirt although no one really knows how they will react when faced with an absolutely barbarous captor for whom surrender was the ultimate disgrace and by whom captives should be shown no mercy, let alone treatment as civilized human beings. The reader soon discovers the ten American captives and their two Filipino comrades were tough men indeed, possessed of indomitable courage, extraordinary endurance and an unwavering goal of successful escape. If the reader expects a blind 'em, burn 'em, blast 'em epic fit for a Hollywood enhanced mega-dust up he will be disappointed. On the other hand, the reader looking for a straight forward story of truly heroic warriors determined to succeed despite leadership challenges, extraordinary fatigue, disease, terrain and weather, and ever present danger from an abominable enemy determined to hunt them down will be very just rewarded. It's a real slice of the Greatest Generation on its way to becoming great.
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on July 22, 2014
If one has an interest in the Pacific war component of WWII, this is a good read. The secrecy surrounding the prisoners escape and the sequestering of the information they provided on atrocities would be more difficult to occur today. It is very interesting for those who do not know of the lack of support for our troops in Asia in the early war years and of the unceasing pressure from Churchill to divert resources to Europe to see the impact of that policy when combined with MacArthur mistakes. The result is the unimaginable atrocities of the Bataan death march and subsequent POW camps perpetrated on Allied prisoners. A good book to read that compliments this time in history is Kokoda by Peter Fitzsimons which documents the similar predicament facing Australia in Papua New Guinea and the attempt to stop the Japanese advance there with poor resources. Taken together, these two books give one a very bleak picture of the early war in Asia. Having lived in the Philippines, been in those jungles, and spent time in rural medical service in the late 1970s in Limay, Battaan, halfway down the trail of the Death March, I still heard stories from locals about atrocities. I will never forget the tough old taxi driver in Manila with a flattop haircut who refused to accept money from me because I was an American, saying that he had fought with our soldiers against the Japanese and that we saved his country. Escape From Davao is a compelling, inspiring story.
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on February 19, 2015
As a child I heard many horror stories about the Japanese treatment of POW's in the Pacific arena. Clearly a lot of research went into this body of work which details descriptively for the reader, events and environment surrounding this epic WWII horror. The reader is faced with painful facts such as the corporation Mitsubishi was engaging in POW slave labor, that beheadings - which tragically is now is an ugly issue facing us - was enacted on POW's and innocent Filipino's. A most sad commentary on this, is that those brave POW's who made it back Stateside, were muzzled by government censorship. They were panic stricken by being forced to remain silent all the while knowing their peers still in POW camp in the Philippines were being tortured, starved and brutally treated. The countries' resources were apparently stretched thin between Europe and the Pacific wars, and it seemed that for most of the years of WWII most resources went into the European arena. The reader will have to make their own judgement on MacArthur as have so many historians. In the bitter end, everything seems to pale in comparison to the Bataan Death March. It was beyond horrific. The author did a fine job in doing outstanding detailed research and authoring this book documenting the full and amazing story of a time and place where the unthinkable happened. The author also does a great job of concluding the story and giving updates on survivors. A must read.
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on May 20, 2017
Great book about WWII escape. Hard to see how these brave men made it through high grass with blade like features plus
other dangerous features of deep jungles and high hills.
Showed many times the local villagers in The Philipines with great danger to themselves, generously aided the escapees. Without
their aid many times, these men would have never made it.
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