Synopses & Reviews
For the first four months of 1942, U.S., Filipino, and Japanese soldiers fought what was America's first major land battle of World War II, the battle for the tiny Philippine peninsula of Bataan. It ended with the surrender of 76,000 Filipinos and Americans, the single largest defeat in American military history.
The defeat, though, was only the beginning, as Michael and Elizabeth M. Norman make dramatically clear in this powerfully original book. From then until the Japanese surrendered in August 1945, the prisoners of war suffered an ordeal of unparalleled cruelty and savagery: forty-one months of captivity, starvation rations, dehydration, hard labor, deadly disease, and torture—far from the machinations of General Douglas MacArthur.
The Normans bring to the story remarkable feats of reportage and literary empathy. Their protagonist, Ben Steele, is a figure out of Hemingway: a young cowboy turned sketch artist from Montana who joined the army to see the world. Juxtaposed against Steele's story and the sobering tale of the Death March and its aftermath is the story of a number of Japanese soldiers.
The result is an altogether new and original World War II book: it exposes the myths of military heroism as shallow and inadequate; and it makes clear, with great literary and human power, that war causes suffering for people on all sides.
"The narrative even humanizes the anguished Japanese commanders condemned by a victor's justice that held them accountable for offenses of out-of-control subordinates.... Indispensable." ---Booklist Starred Review
"A narrative achievement.... If you aren't weeping openly by the book's final scenes...then you have a hard crust of salt around your soul." ---The New York Times
In the tradition of All Quiet on the Western Front and Hiroshima, this major new work about World War II exposes the myths of military heroism as shallow and inadequate, and makes clear that war causes suffering for people on all sides.
About the Author
Michael Norman, a former reporter and columnist for the New York Times, is on the faculty of the Arthur L. Carter Journalism Institute at New York University and is the author of These Good Men: Friendships Forged in War. Norman was the inaugural writer for the New York Times columns "A Sense of Place," a monthly column exploring the dislocations of modern life in one suburban town; "Lessons," a national column on education; and "Our Towns," a twice-weekly column on life outside New York City.Norman has also written major articles for various other national publications, including the New York Times Magazine, the Washington Post Magazine, and GQ. His work has been syndicated both in the United States and abroad, and he is the author of These Good Men: Friendships Forged in War, a memoir published to critical acclaim in 1990. He lives with his wife and two sons in New Jersey. Elizabeth M. Norman is an associate professor of nursing and director of the doctoral program at New York University's Division of Nursing in the School of Education. Her specialty is nursing history. The recipient of many honors and awards, she is the author of Women at War: The Story of Fifty Military Nurses Who Served in Vietnam; We Band of Angels: The Untold Story of American Nurses Trapped on Bataan by the Japanese; and numerous articles. She lives with her husband and two sons in New Jersey. Michael Prichard has played several thousand characters during his career. While he has been seen performing over one hundred of them in theater and film, Michael is primarily heard, having recorded well over five hundred full-length books. During his career as a one-man repertory company, he has recorded many series with running characters-including the complete Travis McGee adventures by John D. MacDonald and the complete Nero Wolfe mysteries by Rex Stout-as well as series by such masters as Mark Twain, John Cheever, and John Updike. His numerous awards and accolades include an Audie Award for Tears in the Darkness by Michael Norman and Elizabeth M. Norman and several AudioFile Earphones Awards, including for At All Costs by Sam Moses and In Nixon's Web by L. Patrick Gray III. Named a Top Ten Golden Voice by SmartMoney magazine, he holds an M.F.A. in theater from the University of Southern California. Michael appears regularly on the professional stage, including as a member of Ray Bradbury's Pandemonium Theatre Company, performing such great roles as Captain Beatty in Fahrenheit 451, which became the second-longest-running production in the Los Angeles area. Bradbury himself dubbed Michael "the finest Beatty in history."