Author(s): Hampton SidesDownload
On January 28, 1945, 121 hand-selected U.S. troops slipped behind enemy lines in the Philippines. Their mission: March thirty rugged miles to rescue 513 POWs languishing in a hellish camp, among them the last survivors of the infamous Bataan Death March. A recent prison massacre by Japanese soldiers elsewhere in the Philippines made the stakes impossibly high and left little time to plan the complex operation.In Ghost Soldiers Hampton Sides vividly re-creates this daring raid, offering a minute-by-minute narration that unfolds alongside intimate portraits of the prisoners and their lives in the camp. Sides shows how the POWs banded together to survive, defying the Japanese authorities even as they endured starvation, tropical diseases, and torture. Harrowing, poignant, and inspiring, Ghost Soldiers is the mesmerizing story of a remarkable mission. It is also a testament to the human spirit, an account of enormous bravery and self-sacrifice amid the most trying conditions.
Some Reviews: 1355 in Goodreads.com
If this book is on your TBR list, move it to the top. If it isn’t on your list, add it!! It is simply excellent as it tells the story of the Bataan Death March, those survivors who ended up in Cabanatuan POW camp in the Philippines, and the subsequent greatest rescue mission of World War II.
Most reader of WWII history are familiar with the brave and seemingly impossible mission taken on by US Rangers and Filipino guerrillas and this book fleshes out our knowledge as well as introducing some of the POWs and the roles they played in everyday prison camp life which kept many of their comrades alive. These were men who wanted to live, knowing that every day brought the possibility that all would be put against the wall and shot as the war started turning against Japan. The bestiality of the overseers of Cabanatuan was almost beyond belief and became worse as the Japanese slowly retreated from the islands. It is amazing that anyone in the camp survived. The rescue plan is detailed in these pages and you rejoice as the “Yanks” break into the camp to rescue men that thought they had been forgotten. The last line of the book taken from the diary of one of the prisoners will touch your soul….We are all ghosts now. But once we were men This is a must read and I highly recommend it.
Outstanding account of the raid to save the survivors of the Bataan Death March. Sides’ compelling prose make the narrative read like a novel, with effective pacing of the heroic actions by this early cadre of Army Rangers alternating with the human stories of the survivors and their liberators.
Of the nearly 80,000 who surrendered to the Japanese in the Bataan peninsula in 1942, about 600 Americans and 5-10 thousand Filipinos died on the three week forced March north to a camp in central Luzon. At the initial horrific staging camp, about 1,500 more Americans and 15,000 Filipinos died within the first two months there. When the Allied Forces returned three years later in fulfillment of General MacArthur’s pledge, the fate of the remaining survivors at a replacement camp in Luzon became a pressing concern.
Because of a case a few months earlier where Imperial forces slaughtered prisoners before vacating one of the retaken islands, the risky strategy of a raid behind enemy lines was set in motion. In teamwork with a few hundred Filipino guerilla forces, 121 Rangers executed a brilliant rescue of over 500 very debilitated prisoners, killing over 1,000 Japanese in the process.
In the sensitive telling of this tale, Sides elucidates much about drives humans to extraordinary achievements and some about the origins of egregious inhumanity on the part of the Imperial soldiers.
My father, “Pa” died 13 years ago, I spent my entire life shadowing him; I knew I was loved and I knew I was the favorite; yet there were things about him I didn’t know. The part of his life that most shaped Pa was the years he spent on the Pacific Theater during WWII. In an attempt to understand my father to a greater extent, I chose to start reading books concerning the Pacific Theater….’Ghost Soldiers’ was my first…….
When most people think of WWII they think of Nazi’s, the Holocaust, and Pearl Harbor; but what about the thousands of Americans who fought, were captured and died?…
Ghost Soldiers holds every piece of today’s best fictional thriller; but it’s a true story; the story of the ‘Bataan Death March’ life as a POW of the Japanese Imperial Army and the courage group of newly created ‘Special Ops’ men who liberated the POWs of Cabantuan.
This book tells the story of murder and cruelty; how one group of men literally watch the world move on without them and how one group of men and an impossible mission created what we today know as ‘Special -Ops.’
This is a must read book; not only for those who are interested in history, not only for those whose father’s spent time on the Pacific Theater, but for everyone! This is more than a true story, this will help everyone understand the men who shaped the leaders who are now shaping the world!
Thoroughly enjoyed reading this well written account of the rescue of the POWs of the Bataan Death March and the Rangers who rescued them. Hampton Sides writes so beautifully as he transitions back and forth between the rescue efforts, over the period of a few days, to accounting the years that the POWs experienced. Even though some of what happened in this book is difficult to read for the sheer horror of what the POWs faced, the author brings this event to life again, assuring those who read this book will never forget. These men all deserve to be remembered for what they experienced. This was a great read! I am a Hampton Sides fan now because of this book.
Very engaging narrative, that covers the fall of Bataan, the ‘Bataan Death March’ and the internment of POWs captured by the Japanese into Camp O’Donnell, know also as Camp Cabanatuan. This is a story about the rescue of the final remaining 530 prisoners who were rescued after information came out that the Japanese were slaughtering POWs as the war was drawing to an end. The men that were to perform this rescue were the Army’s new category of soldier, the Rangers. It also covered the courageous Filipino resistance fighters who were integral in this rescue mission, and a special intelligence gathering behind the lines force known as the Alamo Scouts, and the many villagers who contributed to the rescue.
This narrative also covers to some extent camp life and some of the horrors and distractions and comradery that develops in any type of prison system. The author follows particular people through this narrative, a method of storytelling that I appreciate, as history far to often follows the commanders giving little effort to give credence to the valor of the men in the ranks.
I have to admit that I had to pause as I couldn’t read through my tears in the passages which described the tenderness the Rangers displayed to the men they liberated….and the beautiful poetry of Henry Lee.
The author wove this story in a manner that brings the reader close to certain men that are followed from the beginning to the end. I always think as I read these stories about how young these men were, mere children who took on awesome responsibilities and prevailed. Very moving account of an amazing rescue where for some reason everything went right, as though the gods all gave their approval of the venture.
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