- Paperback: 304 pages
- Publisher: Miramax (May 22, 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 078688780X
- ISBN-13: 978-0786887804
- Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 8 inches
- Shipping Weight: 9 ounces
- Average Customer Review: 19 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,363,243 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Great Raid Paperback – May 22, 2002
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About the Author
William B. Breuer is the acclaimed and award-winning author of thirty-four books, focusing on World War II, the CIA, and the FBI, as well as the Korean War. Fourteen of his books have been selections of the Military Book Club. He lives in Cleveland, Tennessee.
General Barry McCaffrey as a combat officer has twice received the Distinguished Service Cross and has been awarded three Purple Heart medals. A retired four-star general, he has served as director of the White House Office of National Drug Control Policy and is now a national security analyst for NBC News.
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The book gives life to a time in history of great importance, that Americans lack awareness-in and in dept to pay tribute to both Filipinos and Americans who fought for their country.
After reading the book, one is left with sheer amazement, pride, appreciation, and yet saddened by the lack of tribute lacking for these veterans, and The Great Insult America has bestowed upon Filipinos who fought and died for America and America's soldiers.
In July 14, 1941, when the Philippines was still a colony of the U.S., 140,000 Filipino soldiers was call to active service by then President Franklin Roosevelt to fight in WWII along side the Americans under the U.S. flag
Their brave service under the U.S. flag was snubbed when in 1946 Congress sign into law the Rescission Act of 1946, which affectively denied them their right to receive the same right given to other WWII U.S veterans.
Today there are only 12,000 surviving Filipino American veterans in the U.S and 35,000 Filipino veterans in the Philippines.
The book exemplifies the bravery these men did for the country and the injustice they are enduring today.
Marimax is currently filming a movie based on this book.
This material all more or less overlaps with Ghost Soldiers but isn't nearly as well written. Breuer has a penchant for trite melodramatic phrasing, and tends to repeat information over and over and over as if his reader has no memory. It also doesn't help that instead of simply writing "three Rangers did X", he writes, "John Q. Doe of Springfield, IL, James R. Doe of Anywhere, WY, and Jesse T. Doe of Plainview, MI did X." I certainly understand his desire to honor every solider he can by naming them, but it makes for very awkward reading. Another small tick that bothered me was that if any soldier had played college football, that merited mention -- but only football, no other sport. Why? Finally, his interviews with veteran POWs and Rangers seemed to yield little more than the most banal of anecdotes and recollections and their inclusion, again, while honoring them, really doesn't help the book's readability.
Unfortunately, behind the weak writing lurk bigger flaws. Foremost of these is a total lack of explanation as why it was deemed so crucial to mount a dangerous, complex, behind-enemy-lines mission to rescue the POWs. Breuer repeats a number of times that it was feared that the Japanese would massacre the POWs, but never tells what foundation that fear rested on. The reader is left to conclude that it was all basically hearsay based on the notion that the Japanese might do it for reasons of revenge as they retreat. This contrasts poorly with Ghost Soldiers, which explains that the U.S. Army's knew of one such massacre (the Palawan Massacre, in which American POWs were burned alive by retreating Japanese), and thus there was a very real fear guiding the raid at the climax of the book. The book also suffers somewhat from Breuer's agenda to lionize Douglas MacArthur and vilify Roosevelt and the "faceless Washington bureaucrats" (can someone please retire this trite phrase?). This is somewhat redeemed by his drawing attention to the massively heroic efforts of Filipino soldiers at the side of the Americans, and their subsequent total betrayal when it came to due honors and compensation from the U.S. government.
However, in the end, there's no reason to read this version of history when Ghost Soldiers is available -- unless you're really really interested in the Pacific Campaign. There's so much overlap between the two that all you'd be getting is different emphases. Related books that might be worth checking out are Silent Warriors of World War II: The Alamo Scouts Behind the Japanese Lines and Manila Espionage, Claire Phillips account of her life as the ringleader of an Allied spy ring in the Philippines (later made into the forgettable film I Was An American Spy).
I enjoyed the book, but I believe it was written poorly. There was an obvious bias against the Japanese. No doubt the Japanese committed numerous atrocities, but everything in the book was shaded with an honest dislike for their race. I found this frustrating. Though Filipinos were often exalted in the book, the author writes in a way that shows his favoritism (maybe racist favoritism) for Americans. The Filipinos are portrayed as the cute `little brown brothers', which actually are the words of a former US President. In the book, vulgarity, machismo, and plain stupidity of American soldiers is exaggerated and exalted. The retelling of this history reminded me of how a war veteran might recount the events- with favoritism, a little added heroics, and genuine hate for the enemy. Are these things bad for a veteran to do and or believe? I don't believe so, but a non-fiction history account should retell history in a clear, non-biased way. Would I want my great-uncle Frank to tell me about his experience in WW2? Of course- I would covet first hand information. But would I want to base my understanding of the entire war on much more than Uncle Frank's observation? No. This book felt like great-uncle Frank. I look forward to reading Ghost Soldiers, to get a different style and outlook regarding the Philippines during WW2.
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