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Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II's Most Dramatic Mission Audio, Cassette – Abridged, Audiobook

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Amazon.com Review

The Bataan Death March was just the beginning of the woes American soldiers captured by the Japanese army in the Philippines had to endure. The survivors of the march faced not only their captors' regular brutality (having surrendered, they were considered to be less than honorable foes), but also a host of illnesses such as dysentery and malaria. For three years these "ghost soldiers" lived in misery, suffering terrible losses.

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 an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Publishers Weekly

Popular writer and Outside columnist Sides (Stomping Grounds) interviewed participants in one of WWII's little-known exploits: the rescue of 500 American and Allied POWs from Cabanatuan prison camp on the Philippine island of Luzon. This gripping account intertwines the tale of these prisoners, who were survivors of the horrible Bataan Death March in 1942, and 121 officers and men of the army's Sixth Ranger Battalion. Led by Colonel Henry Mucci and Captain Robert Prince, these Rangers, who had yet to taste active combat, trekked 30 miles behind Japanese lines to effect the rescue, haunted all the while by the knowledge that if their secret mission was leaked, the POWs would probably be massacred by their captors. Sides includes the heroic efforts of Claire Phillips and other resistance fighters to keep the Americans supplied with accurate intelligence, and the scores of villagers who helped the POWs to safety. Some Alamo Scouts and two Filipino guerrilla groups provided no small assistance to Mucci and his men. The raid itself was almost anticlimactic as the Rangers burst into the POW compound, eliminating the garrison and bringing out the inmates in less than half an hour. It's a tale worthy of a Hollywood movie (and film rights have been optioned by Universal). The author's excellent grasp of human emotions and bravery makes this compelling book hard to put down. (May 15)Forecast: This is for fans of Flags of Our Fathers who have been waiting for another installment. First serial rights have been sold to Esquire, and the author is booked on the Today Show. With more exposure like that, and with blurbs coming from the likes of David Halberstam and Jon Krakauer, this should sell hugely.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Product Details

  • Audio Cassette
  • Publisher: Random House Audio; Abridged edition (May 15, 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553528149
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553528145
  • Product Dimensions: 4.5 x 1.2 x 7.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (889 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #4,769,550 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
After glowing references to "Black hawk down", "Flags of our fathers" and "We were soldiers once, and young", I was eager to receive and read "Ghost soldiers". And, to be candid, I read it straight through the day I received it.
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.
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Format: Hardcover
I'm not a fan of War stories or history books. I am not easily moved emotionally. I read this because it seemed like an interesting story. I was astounded by this book. It actually gave me chills in the end. It was shocking how cruel the Japanese captors were to the Americans and gave me a deep respect for the American POW's of World War II. The book is well researched, intelligently written and emotionally stimulating. It reads like a fast paced action novel, the character development makes you feel like you know these people personally and the mood of dread, fear and hope are touchingly communicated to the reader. Don't get me wrong, this is not a tear jerker story, it is an accurate account of history as told by people who actually lived through the ordeal. It has intrigue, spies, guerrillas, culture clashes, desperation and most of all - courage. It is a rewarding read in the end and an adventure from the beginning. Highly recommended!
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Format: Hardcover
Disappointment and shame for having to surrender at Bataan; humiliation and abuse from the Japanese captors who treated those who surrendered as less than worthy opponents; starvation, exhaustion, and torture on the 70 mile forced trek, known and immortalized as the Bataan death march; punishing, back breaking labor in slave camps. So it was for US servicemen who surrendered at Bataan or who were captured elsewhere in the Philippines in 1942. For one such Army private - Eugene Nielsen, whose story makes up one of the narratives of GHOST SOLDIERS, the three years of his life spent in the Philippines was a perpetual nightmare.
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.
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Format: Hardcover
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.
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