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Ghost Soldiers: The Epic Account of World War II's Greatest Rescue Mission

de Hampton Sides

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2,206435,147 (4.12)86
On January 28, 1945, 121 hand-selected troops from the elite U.S. 6th Ranger Battalion slipped behind enemy lines in the Philippines. Their mission: march thirty miles in an attempt to rescue 513 American and British POWs who had spent three years in a hellish camp near the city of Cabanatuan. The prisoners included the last survivors of the Bataan Death March left in the camp, and their extraordinary will to live might soon count for nothing. As the Rangers stealthily moved through enemy-occupied territory, they learned that Cabanatuan had become a major transshipment point for the Japanese retreat, and instead of facing the few dozen prison guards, they could possibly confront as many as 8,000 battle-hardened enemy troops.… (més)
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3.5 stars

Close to the end of WWII, there were American (and a few other nationalities) prisoners of war being held by the Japanese in the Philippines. When one POW camp was brutally massacred, the American Rangers decided to go in to rescue the POWs at another one before the same thing could happen there. This book goes back and forth between the POWs: how they came to be in the camp and their life there leading up to the rescue and the rescuers and their dangerous mission to get them out. In the end, they saved over 500 POWs, many who were sick.

This was good. I found the POWs story more interesting than the rescuers, though there were still portions of both that held my interest. The book started with a “bang”, describing the other POW camp and how almost all of them were murdered except for a very few who managed to escape. Then, it switched to the story at hand, going back and forth. It did pick up in the last half to third of the book, as the rescue was about to happen, and as it happened. ( )
1 vota LibraryCin | Nov 15, 2020 |
I was listening to "Weekend Edition" on NPR and heard an interesting interview with Hampton Sides, the author of this book about a raid by U.S. Army Rangers and Philippine guerrillas to free Allied POWs from a Japanese prison camp in the waning days of the Japanese occupation of the Philippines. Later that day, I bought the only copy in the Waldenbooks in a nearby mall and, appropriately enough, read it over Memorial Day weekend.

This book is a vivid reminder that war is Hell (in case one needed a reminder of that). The accounts of the carnage on both sides were difficult for me to handle. At the same time, the book reminds us that there are those who are willing to lay down their lives in an effort to save their brothers in arms. ( )
  cpg | May 16, 2020 |
This is my third Hampton Sides book, and in my humble opinion, no one writes better nonfiction than Sides does. His research is thorough, and his use of the language is masterful.
If you are like President Trump, and you think that American POWs are not heroes (“I like people who weren’t captured”), don’t bother reading this book. If, however, you revere the men and women who served this country and sacrificed years of their lives, often with brutal and severe mistreatment, this book will give you a graphic idea of what it is like to be a prisoner of war. This is the story of the American soldiers who after the Bataan Death March ended up in the Cabanatuan camp in the Philippines. The Japanese treatment of American soldiers is legendary, but this book will bring those war crimes to such a graphic and realistic level that it is almost impossible to read without frequent breaks. The heroes of this story, in addition to the POWs, are the members of the 6th Ranger Battalion and the Filipino guerrillas, who risked their lives and the lives of their families to help the rangers free the POWs. If you think you’ve read everything there is to read about the war in the Pacific, you haven’t unless you’ve read Hampton Sides’ “Ghost Soldiers.” It’s a difficult book to read, but it’s an important book in our nation’s history. ( )
  DanDiercks | Jan 6, 2020 |
A well written and to the point (as in not trying to deal with all of the Pacific War) account of a prison camp in the Philippines and the rescue of its captives late in the war. ( )
  addunn3 | May 26, 2019 |
My father helped to bury the soldiers whose massacre is described in the first chapter. They uncovered the mass grace the Japanese had left them in, identified them and reburied them. ( )
  MaryHeleneMele | May 6, 2019 |
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Nom de l'autorCàrrecTipus d'autorObra?Estat
Sides, Hamptonautor primaritotes les edicionsconfirmat
Carella, MariaDissenyadorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Prichard, MichaelNarradorautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
Ward, Jeffrey L.Mapsautor secundarialgunes edicionsconfirmat
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Let us not speak of them; but look, and pass on.
Dante's Inferno

[ followed by list of prisoners held at Cabanatuan at time of Ranger raid ]
Dedicatòria
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To my Mother,
for her grace and equanamity,
and for teaching me to keep my eyes open

...

And to the mothers and wives of the men of Bataan
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All about them, their work lay in ruins.
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In August 1944, the War Ministry in Tokyo had issued a directive to the commandants of various POW camps, outlining a policy for what it called the "final disposition" of prisoners. A copy of this document, which came to be known as the "August 1 Kill-All Order," would surface in the war crimes investigations in Tokyo. [23]
Colonel Mucci had proposed the sweetest imaginable use of force, to defend and avenge in the same act. [64]
Over time, the prisoners perfected the sport of gastrosado-masochism. At night the men would swap recipes for dishes that were ludicrously, obscenely rich -- chocolate syrup on mashed potatoes, molasses and whipped cream over a whole stick of butter. They would torment each other with elaborate recitations of the meals they were going to prepare. They'd be lying on their bunks in the dark, and without preface or provocation, someone would say, in a tone of perverse glee: Bacon, lettuce, and tomato sandwich! Everyone would writhe and groan. A few minutes would pass, and someone would break the silence: New England clam chowder! On and on it would go until they finally became sated and drifted off to miserable sleep. [142]
In the [prison camp] hospital for the critically ill, known as Zero Ward, the doctors labored with improvised equipment and conducted operations with nothing more than what was termed vocal anesthetic ("It won't hurt much"). [151]
Rumormongering was an assiduously practiced sport around camp. The rumors spread even faster than disease. [...] It was not a malicious tendency, however. Very seldom were rumors hatched that prisoners didn't want to hear. If the rumors preyed on people's hopes, they were themselves a reflection of hope. They were spread in the spirit of certain universal understandings, the main one being that prisoners of war are not interested in the truth. [159]
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On January 28, 1945, 121 hand-selected troops from the elite U.S. 6th Ranger Battalion slipped behind enemy lines in the Philippines. Their mission: march thirty miles in an attempt to rescue 513 American and British POWs who had spent three years in a hellish camp near the city of Cabanatuan. The prisoners included the last survivors of the Bataan Death March left in the camp, and their extraordinary will to live might soon count for nothing. As the Rangers stealthily moved through enemy-occupied territory, they learned that Cabanatuan had become a major transshipment point for the Japanese retreat, and instead of facing the few dozen prison guards, they could possibly confront as many as 8,000 battle-hardened enemy troops.

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