…no moma, no papa, no Uncle Sam. No aunts, no uncles, no cousins, no nieces. No planes, no pills, no artillery pieces. And nobody give a damn…


It was supposed to be America’s  Gibraltar of the East. It had big guns and plenty of them. It had hardened bunkers. It had supplies enough to last until relief came – none ever did. FDR wanted to defeat the Nazis first and the 75,000 American defenders were expendable.  A World War II cartoon shows Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson, sitting at his desk, surrounded by papers indicating praise for the heroic defenders of Bataan. Uncle Sam tells him he is glad to see the expression of support for the defenders. Stimson responds, “Yes, they’re worthy of the finest traditions of the service. But we can best show our appreciation of their sacrifice by seeing to it that American soldiers are never trapped again when they haven’t the tools to fight with.” He was in the position to know – he never sent any.

The guns have long fallen silent and the only echoes are whispers of politicians lying about abandonment.

The guns have long fallen silent and the only echoes are whispers of politicians lying about abandonment.

Tears in the darkness : the story of the Bataan Death March and its aftermath New York : Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, 2009 Michael Norman and Elizabeth M. Norman World War, 1939-1945 Prisoners and prisons, Japanese, Bataan Death March, Philippines, 1942 Hardcover. 1st. ed., later printing. 463 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. ; 24 cm. Includes bibliographical references (p. [423-436]) and index. Clean, tight and strong binding with clean dust jacket. No highlighting, underlining or marginalia in text.  VG/VG

For the first four months of 1942, Americans and  Filipinos, fought  Japanese soldiers in America’s first major land battle of World War II: the battle for the tiny Philippine peninsula of Bataan. It ended with the single largest defeat in American military history.

One of Steele's pictures of the Bataan Death March.

One of Steele’s pictures of the Bataan Death March.

Following the U.S. surrender to the Japanese on the peninsula of Bataan in 1942, 76,000 American POWs began the infamous Death March. This gripping narrative, told in unsparing detail, focuses intermittently on American POW Ben Steele, whose sketches adorn the book, and the hell of Japanese prison and labor camps that introduced these captives to the starvation, dehydration and murderous Japanese brutality that would become routine for the next three years.

Just in case you don't believe the artist here is a photograph.

Just in case you don’t believe the artist here is a photograph.

Until the Japanese surrendered in August 1945, the prisoners of war suffered forty-one months of unparalleled cruelty and savagery. Michael and Elizabeth Norman bring to the story remarkable feats of reportage. Their protagonist, Ben Steele, is a young cowboy and aspiring sketch artist from Montana who joins the army to see the world and ends up on a death march. Juxtaposed against Steele’s story are the accounts of Japanese soldiers who carried out their inhuman tortures.

Tears in the Darkness is an altogether new look at World War II that exposes the myths of war and shows the extent of suffering and loss.

He did not escape to Australia. He surrendered when ordered. He made the Death March. He endured the captivity and he survived to help accept the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay on board the USS Missouri and return to a heroes welcome. All praise and honor to General Jonathan Wainwright.

He did not escape to Australia. He surrendered when ordered. He made the Death March. He endured the captivity and he survived to help accept the Japanese surrender in Tokyo Bay on board the USS Missouri and return to a heroes welcome. All praise and honor to General Jonathan Wainwright.

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