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on September 6, 2015
The words that came from WWII are part of our cultural vocabulary (for those of a certain age). Reading this book changed my cozy comfort with the sacrifices of our soldiers to a humbled, grateful prayer for their very existence. The soldiers were a cross section of regular people selected by fate and circumstance for a crushing existence. A number survived. A larger number did not. They thought they had been abandoned to death and slavery by our country. A group was rescued by another group of group of regular people selected by fate and circumstance to be daring commandos sneaking into enemy territory to make a rescue. Sides's telling of all the sides of the story is gripping non-fiction about humanity. The gritty details of POW existence for our soldiers horrify. The soldiers' words of acceptance, their sources of encouragement, their humility in the face of their heroism and calm retrospection about the details humble me. Yes, I use "humble" a lot about my reaction to this true story because I am humbled in my comfortable, Internet world when I realize what made it possible for me.
12 people found this helpful
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on September 12, 2016
Ghost Soldiers is a remarkable book by a remarkable author. Hampton Sides brings to life the courage and strength of the POWs from the U.S. and other countries in the face of shocking atrocities by the Japanese in the Philippines during WWII. Sides describes the daring rescue of more than 500 POWs at Cabanatuan prison camp in such detail that you almost feel that you are part of it. I couldn't put the book down.
10 people found this helpful
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on April 16, 2017
This book is a superb, detailed account of not only The Great Raid, but of events leading up to it...the Bataan Death March and the Palawan massacre. I have two criticisms. The men shown carrying prisoners in blankets were not on the Death March. This was the burial detail. I know because my father was on the March and also forced to work the burial detail. For years, he and other veterans worked to change this misconception. I also doubt the sympathy that the author seems to feel for Homma. It is unreasonable to think that the mass murders going on under his command were not noticed by him. Overall, an excellent book.
5 people found this helpful
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on August 21, 2017
Anyone who was alive during or had a relative in WWII would enjoy the reading of this true story. My cousin was a part of the death march and survived. People today do not understand what these poor military me went through. They were and still are heroes. God bless them all. Our youth should look to them as models.
4 people found this helpful
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on January 22, 2015
Having just read the author's "In the Kingdom of Ice" and enjoyed it immensely, turning to one of his earlier works, and especially one so well received, was an easy choice. "Ghost Soldiers" shows Sides at his historical and even sociological best, bringing a well beyond horrifying story that began early in WWII and lasted for years to light. This is not just a book for history buffs or war story readers, this is one for everyone who cares for America and where it has been. It is also a book for anyone who could use some additional inspiration, a reason to get up in the morning, a vision of courage and leadership and survival. The Bataan Death March has been fairly well documented over the years but what brings this book to the fore is the mesmerizing tale of the valiant rescue of several hundred survivors near the end of the war, U.S., British and others, who by most accounts should have died long before at the torturing hands of their sadistic and monstrous captors, The Imperial Japanese Army. As bad as the Germans were, the Japanese were never to be outdone in the cruelty department. It began deep in their culture and could be witnessed in their attitude toward surrender, captivity status, and even the training of their own soldiers, sailors and airmen. Fighter pilots, for example, were subject to brutal training regimens at the hands of their own Japanese instructors and woe to any student who seemed unmotivated or who missed a test question-- students were routinely bludgeoned, often to the point of unconsciousness.

Allied POW's, not to mention many thousands of native Filipinos, were treated so inhumanely by the Japanese as to all but defy description, but this is precisely what Sides does so well. The rescue of the Bataan survivors very nearly came too late, but I can't imagine many of them would have said that at the time of their release from captivity. Sides' research and writing are brilliant as always. He is a national treasure who goes well beyond the boundaries of historical excellence. This is a book for the ages. If I had my way, Japanese students would all read it, too.
3 people found this helpful
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on December 18, 2017
This book was absolutely riveting, and horrifying when you read about the terrible treatment of the POWs. We purchased it for my High School son's WWII class paper and I ended up going back and reading the entire book cover to cover. It is well written, but I assume being a National Bestseller would let you know that as well. The story is tremendous and not one I had ever heard before. Well worth the read!
2 people found this helpful
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on August 25, 2014
Another great historical piece by Mr. Hampton Sides. Mr. Sides always has a nice blend of explicit, albeit sometimes gruesome details, but yet never gives off the feeling that they were including in a gratuitous manner. He tells you what you need to know about what the subjects of his books have survived (or perished from) but yet you never feel he is freely providing details just to keep the reader hooked.

It just breaks my heart to hear what these men went through, both those that perished and those that survived. It never fails to amaze me what the human spirit is capable of surviving. Thank you for sharing their stories with us, this was definitely a story that should be told to every human. I'm not going to debate whether this piece of military action was necessary for American freedom, nor do I feel that this book tries to do that (just so no one gets that impression) - I read these stories to better appreciate what people are capable of surviving and what amazing camaraderie, kindness and human spirit can survive in even the darkest moments.

I've now moved on to Mr. Sides's "Blood and Thunder."
3 people found this helpful
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on July 20, 2017
An immersive and very detailed book, covers the Bataan Death March and the rescue of the survivors. The best generation is due for more accolades, they kept us safe from a horrific regime that tortured and tormented 10,000 's of Americans and Philippines soldiers after the loss of the Bataan peninsula. I found the cultural explanation of prisoner treatment fascinating. The Japanese did not surrender, thus the misunderstanding of POW treatment. Knocked the book off in three days so very readable.
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on February 15, 2017
Ryan Berger, Perryville Maryland.
I recommend that anyone who has an interest in war or anything war related to read this book. Even those that are scared to read non-fiction books because non fiction books are known for being boring and full of history. Hampton Sides does an amazing job of bringing in the facts and history of the war without making it boring. He is able to weave history and action together to keep the reader entertained and informed.
Another thing Hampton Sides does really well is that he writes the story from two different point of views. One is that of the prisoners in the POW camps, and the other is that of the soldiers assigned to break the prisoners out of the camp. He starts the two point of views at separate times of the war, but as the story continues and reaches the climax, both point of views converge and occur at the same time.
One person found this helpful
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on July 27, 2015
Great coverage of a historical event. This is what I love about history. So many untold or forgotten stories that need to be retold to a generation that takes so much sacrifice for granted. I give it only four out of five stars because I do not like my history written in a flash back/flash forward style. I like my history chronological ... as it really happened. And Sides seems to go out of his way to use unnecessarily large and ambiguous words - that I can only assume are meant to impress us with his vocabulary - but do nothing for the clear telling of a captivating story.
2 people found this helpful
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