On a parched evening in the Philippines 53 years ago, 511 American POWs were saved from almost certain death. A force of elite US troops from the Sixth Ranger Battalion slipped 30 miles behind enemy lines and marched for three days through jungle and peat swamps. They stormed the camp at dusk, killing over 250 Japanese soldiers, rounded up the dazed prisoners and led them out of the gate. With bullets and mortars whining past, the Rangers hauled the prisoners across the Pampanga river and led them down a network of secret paths, past an 8000-man-strong phalanx of Japanese troops. A guerilla force of a few hundred men ambushed the Japanese, destroying a series of bridges along the river, holding off the enemy long enough for the POWs to escape. Today, the raid on Cabanatuan remains the largest and most successful operation of its kind ever undertaken by the US army. A mission of mercy, the raid was of immense symbolic importance for the USA in its fight against the Japanese. Dramatic, gripping, horrifying, GHOST SOLDIERS is narrative history at its best.
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(197mm x 126mm x 23mm)
Publisher: Little, Brown Book Group
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UK Kirkus Review »
In January 1945, U.S. troops began the invasion of Bataan, the Philippines peninsular that had been the scene of their ignominious and bitter surrender three years earlier. This time things would be different. Yet, as the American Generals prepared to drive the Japanese out of the country, an awkward and delicate problem presented itself. Between the U.S. army and Manila was the prisoner-of-war camp at Cabanatuan. The Americans knew that as soon as they approached the area there was a good chance that the Japanese would massacre all the prisoners, as they had done at several other places in the Philippines. But the men in the camp were American soldiers left behind when Bataan surrendered. Grudgingly abandoned and left to their fate at the hands of the Japanese, they represented guilt and sorrow to their country. To lose them in such a manner was unthinkable. So a daring plan was devised to rescue the men before the advance continued. Lieutenant Colonel Henry Mucci's 6th Rangers were given this clandestine mission, to bring them all back alive. But they didn't have much time and, unknown to them, the Japanese army, now in retreat, was gathering in the area. Hampton Sides has managed to turn a piece of history into a cracking good yarn. Intercutting the advance of the Rangers with the stories of the inmates and details of daily life at the camp, he keeps the tension high. He focuses on the stories of a number of eyewitnesses, creating an immediacy through their narrative. Sides does not flinch from recounting the horrors of the death march from Bataan or the appalling conditions in which Allied prisoners were expected to live, detailing too the extraordinary resilience of the imprisoned men, the ingenuity of mind and spirit that is possible when placed under such duress. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Hampton Sides
Hampton Sides is a correspondent and columnist for Outside, an award-winning monthly magazine based in Santa Fe. His articles have appeared in the New York Times, New Republic and the Washington Post, among others. He lives in Santa Fe with wife Anne, a journalist.