Tears in the Darkness
The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath
Publication Date: June 9, 2009
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The defeat, though, was only the beginning, as Michael and Elizabeth M. Norman make dramatically clear in this powerfully original book. From then until the Japanese surrendered in August 1945, the prisoners of war suffered an ordeal of unparalleled cruelty and savagery: forty-one months of captivity, starvation rations, dehydration, hard labor, deadly disease, and torture--far from the machinations of General Douglas MacArthur.
The Normans bring to the story remarkable feats of reportage and literary empathy. Their protagonist, Ben Steele, is a figure out of Hemingway: a young cowboy turned sketch artist from Montana who joined the army to see the world. Juxtaposed against Steele's story and the sobering tale of the Death March and its aftermath is the story of a number of Japanese soldiers.
The result is an altogether new and original World War II book: it exposes the myths of military heroism as shallow and inadequate; it makes clear, with great literary and human power, that war causes suffering for people on all sides.
Michael Norman, a former reporter for The New York Times, teaches narrative journalism at New York University. Elizabeth M. Norman, the author of two books about war, teaches at New York University’s Steinhardt School of Education.