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No Surrender: My Thirty-Year War Paperback – October, 1999
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Text: English, Japanese (translation) --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Coming from a humble background and resigned to military service as a junior enlisted man, Hiroo Onoda unexpectedly found himself in guerilla-warfare training school as an officer-candidate. Because of the exigencies of the war deeply in progress by 1944, Onoda and his classmates graduated early on a expedited training schedule to be able to be put into combat quickly.
Onoda and a handful of other officers, along with about forty enlisted men were put on Lubang Island in the Philippines, an Island strategically-located near the entrance to Manila Harbor. While Lubang remained under Japanese control, it was necessary for Japan to guard, fortify and keep it under Japanese control since the Americans were clearly intent on returning. The Americans had started to gain the upper hand in their quest to get back the Philippines. It was unclear if the natives on the Island would continue to reluctantly cooperate with the Japanese occupiers, switch their loyalty over to the Americans or perhaps, pursue a path to independence by playing off one side against the other.
Amazing to think about today, Onoda and his small group of four chose to "hold out," even as the majority of Japanese soldiers on Lubang decided to take their chances and surrender "en masse" to the Americans. Even in 1945, it was still unclear as to who would win the war in the Pacific. Onoda and two of the other three surviving comrades would make their bet on Japan and chose to hold out for a long time. One of the two remaining Onoda comrades was shot and killed ten years into the hold-out period. The other comrade would hold out with Onoda for twenty-seven years, almost as long as Onoda. When he arrived there in 1944, Onoda was a young, junior officer, just 22 years old. When he finally came out in 1974, he was 52.
So how did Hiroo Onoda manage to hold out for thirty years in the jungle on an Island occupied by Philippine natives, who hunted, fished and farmed? This is the story of "No Surrender: My Thirty-Year War." Onoda was convinced that Japanese surrender propaganda was simply that, propaganda perpetrated by the Americans. Over the years, both he and his surviving comrades became aware that Japan was again prospering. Remarkably, they chose to believe that it was Japan and not the United States who had won the war, even as Lubang had been taken by the Americans. At different times and in different ways, Japanese officers and government officials, as well as members of his own family made appeals for him to surrender. Onoda, however, believed these were subtle, well-crafted hoaxes designed to bring him in and to prevent him from continuing his sworn-to mission as a guerilla fighter.
"No Surrender" is at its best in revealing the techniques and tricks that Onoda had to devise, test and master to eat, stay healthy and to not be detected or captured. Much of what is in "No Surrender" would constitute best practices in a Survival Manual for jungle living. Amazingly, when Onoda finally did choose to surrender and return to Japan, in spite of all the privations he endured over thirty years living in the jungle, his general level of health was superior to that of the typical Japanese man of the same age who would have lived in Japan for that time.
When Onoda finally came in, he surrendered his most important possession, his prized Samurai sword to Ferdinand Marcos, President of the Philippines, who graciously returned it to him. When Onoda returned to Japan, he was welcomed back as a hero.
Some things he left out I would have liked to have known were his reactions to new technology such as the first time he saw jet aircraft.
I do have one real gripe and that is no fault of the book's content. I received the book as shown. It was stamped inside "Not for resale- THIS IS A FREE BOOK." and some organization in Baltimore. I only paid $3.50 + shipping but, it's the principle of the thing.
He provides as near a how-to manual for survival in the wilderness as is possible under the circumstances. He also provides an explanation as to how he could believe that the war continued into the 1970's (despite stealing and listening to a radio at certain times). He describes how it was that he finally came to accept the end of the war and the end of his mission in the jungle.
The book is of interest far beyond those who study war and jungle survival. This book is a study in perspective, duty, honor, commitment and even culture. No Surrender comes as close as possible to answering the question of how someone could do something like this. While Americans were enjoying the Super Bowl, color television, the moon landings, the jet age, Japanese imports, etc., the author was still fighting World War II. Exploring his perspective is as interesting as any other part of the story.