(Review) Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II’s Most Dramatic Mission by Hampton Sides

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Publisher and Publication Date: Doubleday, a division of Random House, Inc. 2001.
Genre: Nonfiction. Subtopics: prisoner of war camp. Philippines. Bataan Death March. Military. World War II. Imperial Japanese Army. Pacific War. Army-Ranger Battalion, 6th.
Pages: 342.
Source: Library.
Rating: Excellent.

Amazon $14.39 for the hardcover.

In a book like Ghost Soldiers, the review written is much different than a fictional story. I don’t critique on its characters, movement, immersion, and originality. Hampton Sides gathered information on the people involved. He researched the history of the battles, terrain, Japanese Imperial Army, 6th Army Ranger Battalion, and the prisons. He compiled and arranged the stories to create the book. However, the people who took part in this history tell their stories. Their unique and individual stories mark this history.
On this day, people go to work and school, they invest in hobbies and interests (like reading), and generally go about a life of freedom. However, it is the men (and women) who fought in battles who make our life of freedom in America possible. This is not a political post, it is a statement of fact, whether you agree or not, World War II was a war fought for our freedom and survival.
My first big introduction to the Pacific War was the series titled The Pacific. It aired on HBO several years ago. It is now on Amazon Prime videos. Next, I read books on the various Pacific battles, and the harrowing story of the USS Indianapolis. On this last event, I have a good friend whose young husband died either on board, or in the water after the torpedo bombing of the Indianapolis. She doesn’t want to know what happened to him, it is still very painful for her to talk about.

Ghost Soldiers keys in on the rescue of the prisoners who survived the Bataan Death March. Their rescuers were the 6th Army Ranger Battalion. The camp was called Cabanatuan. The raid itself is carried out in the later half of the book. The beginning shows the horrific situation the prisoners were living in. It shows the brutality of the Japanese. It shows the events of the prisoners before the raid (the march, the other places they were kept in route.) The time period for the raid is January 1945.
I want to emphasize: to speak in mere words of the living conditions and torture these men endured and died under, I could never do justice.
To read another post on the 6th Army Ranger Battalion: Weapons and Warfare.
Further links of interest:
LTC Henry Mucci
Wikipedia (holds several links to read)
An interview with the author on the book from 2001. C-Span.

Ghost Soldiers is a memorable book. It deeply affected me in reading about the terrible living conditions in the camps, and the crimes against the Pilipino people by the Japanese Army.

It was interesting that when the prisoners were liberated they were in disbelief. Many of them were blind. There was chaos and confusion. Some of the liberators scooped up a prisoner as if they were holding a precious child. And in a sense they were.

 

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