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Ghost Soldiers: The Epic Account of World War II's Greatest Rescue Mission Paperback – May 7, 2002
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When Army Rangers among Douglas MacArthur's forces arrived in the Philippines, they hatched a daring plan to liberate their captured comrades, a mission that, if successful, would prove to be a tremendous morale booster at the front and at home. Led by a young officer named Henry Mucci (called "Little MacArthur" for his constant pipe as well as his brilliance as a strategist), a combined Ranger and Filipino guerrilla force penetrated far behind enemy lines, attacked Japanese forces guarding Allied prisoners at a jungle outpost called Cabanatuan, and shepherded hundreds of prisoners to safety, with an angry Japanese army in hot pursuit. Amazingly, they suffered only light casualties.
In Ghost Soldiers, journalist Hampton Sides recounts that daring rescue, once known to every American schoolchild but now long forgotten. A gifted storyteller, Sides packs his narrative with detailed descriptions of the principal actors on both sides of the struggle and with moments of danger and exhilaration. Thrilling from start to finish, his book celebrates the heroism of hundreds of warriors and brings renewed attention to one of the Rangers' finest hours. --Gregory McNamee --This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.--This text refers to the Audible Audio Edition edition.
Top Customer Reviews
Sides weaves American Caesar Douglas MacArthur's departure, the 1942 fall of Bataan, and the prisoners' three-year aftermath into the effort by untested Rangers to rescue the POWs in late January 1945, when only 500 sickly men survived in an old camp north of Manila. In some respects, these POWs were the lucky ones, even as they lost hope in a rescue thirty-three months in the offing. Moving back and forth between prison life and the rescue effort, Sides builds the story well. The joy of rescue mingles with the possiblity of a last-minute massacre.
The Japanese treatment of American POWs in WWII holds a special place of horror in the minds of Americans of "the greatest generation", and this book makes the terror real. At the same time, the Japanese are not all portrayed as monsters or torturers. In fact, it's the humanity amidst the stark terror and misery that surfaces in this book, the small acts of kindness, the apparently random administration of mercy, and the kindred spirit of POWs.
The Ranger rescue demonstrates American soldiering at its best, at a time when wounds about actions in Vietnam not only remain, they have recently resurfaced. Sides makes it clear war is based on hate and horror but honor as well. More students of history need to read and know this story, somewhat forgotten or overlooked in the magnitude of events that followed: V-E Day, Hiroshima, V-J Day.
The book falls a bit in its narrative.Read more ›
Beginning with a description of the torture and execution of prisoners at the Puerto Princesa Prison Camp on Palawan, Philippines, the book describes the daily ordeal - it can't be called life - that these men endured. By December 1944 the Japanese on Palawan knew that it was only a matter of time before the Americans returned. The officer in charge, the one the men called the 'buzzard' decided to rid himself of his prisoner problem. From their positions in trenches the Americans watched as Japanese carrying liquid filled buckets approached. "With a quick jerk of the hands, they flung the contents into the openings of the trenches. By the smell of it on their skin, the Americans instantly recognized what it was - high octane aviation fuel from the airstrip. Before they could apprehend the full significance of it, other soldiers tossed in lighted bamboo torches." The details provided by the book are obviously gruesome. That Nielsen and 10 others survived the incineration is miraculous. It was these survivors' accounts as told to Army intelligence that prompted the US to send in Rangers to free the 513 Americans held prisoner at Cabanatuan.Read more ›
How is it that we are who we are, or do what we wish, or live in a nation where the words "choice" and "freedom" are taken for granted?
My grandfather was not one of the Bataan survivors, nor did he ever have to endure the horrors of captivity at the hands of the Japanese Army. However, as a veteran of the Americal Division, he saw enough bloodshed and death to last him a lifetime. Because of him, I take the opportunity to read as much as I can on the Pacific War so that I may better understand his experiences in battle as a young man not all that older than myself today.
"Ghost Soldiers" is one of those books that grabs you from the first sentence and does not let go until the final page has been turned. Masterfully written, exhaustively researched, and superbly paced, Hampton Sides employs the same technique that Mark Bowden used in 1999's "Black Hawk Down" in that the historical account reads more like a novel than a work of military history. The characters and events however, are entirely real. Sadly, many of the true heroes of "Ghost Soliders" did not survive their ordeal and never returned home.
Every American should read this book. Not just those who are interested in military history, or those professionals in this country's armed forces who seek to further develop and immerse themselves in the profession of arms.
No, the ones who need to read this book are those who abhor war and who cannot even begin imagine the unthinkable acts of cruelty and suffering heaped upon young men whose only crime was that they were on the losing side in the early going of the Pacific War.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Just read it, you will be glad you did. Hampton Sides writing style is absolutely engrossing and then you come to the realization of all the things these men went through... Read morePublished 10 days ago by M. Metz - Albuquerque, NM
AWESOME BOOK! Great read about a true event. I saw the movie first, by accident. Had to get the book. MUCH better than the movie. HIGHLY RECOMMENDPublished 13 days ago by James Hutchison
heart breaking but then that is what war does. written very well, almost too well.Published 17 days ago by yvonne d stogner
haunting story. Hard to read in places like Unbroken. Great author.Published 20 days ago by Shirley M Campagna
Sides does a good job of describing the hateful ways the Japanese treated our POWs. He does a fair job of describing the Death March. Read morePublished 29 days ago by R. Bridges
My father experienced what this book speaks of. Amazing to read about it.Published 1 month ago by Pierce5