The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II's Most Dramtic Mission
Publication Date: May 15, 2001
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Read by James Naughton
In January 1945, 121 hand-selected troops fom the elite U&.S Army Sixth Ranger Battalion slipped behind enemy lines in the Philippines. Their mission: Attempt to rescue 513 American and British POWs who had spent over three years in a surreally hellish camp, near the city of Cabantuan, thirty miles distant. The prisoners were the last survivors of the Baatan Death March left in the camp, and their extraordinary will to survive might soon count for nothing-elsewhere in the Philippines , the Japanease Army had already executed American prisoners as it retreated from the advancing U.S. Army. As the Rangers carefully evaded Japanease troops, they made a disquieting discovery. Cabanatuan had become a major transshipment point for the Japanease retreat, and instead of facing a few dozen prison guards, they would possibly confront as many as 8,000 battle-hardened enemy troops.
Ghost Soldiers is far more than a thrilling battle saga, Hampton Sides explores the mystery of human behavior under extreme duress-the remarkable resilience of the prisoners who defied the Japanease authorities even as they were subjected to starvation, tropical diseases, and unspeakable tortures; the violent cultural clashes with Japanease guards and soldiers, trained in the warrior ethic of Bushido; the complicated heroism of the Rangers and Filipino guerillas; the complex motivations of the U.S. high command, some of ehom could justly be charged with abandoning the men of Bataan in 1942; and the nearly suicidal bravado of several spies, including priests and a cabaret owner, who risked their lives to help the prisoners during their long ordeal.
At once a gripping depiction of men at war and a compelling look of redemption, Ghost Soldiers joins such landmark books as Flags of our Fathers, The Greatest Generation, The Rape of Nanking, and D-Day in preserving the legacy of World War II for future generations.
HAMPTON SIDES is a contributing editor for Outside magazine, and the author of Stomping Grounds, a book of stories about American subcultures. His work has appeared in The New York Times Magazine, DoubleTake, The New Republic, The Washington Post, and on NPR's "All Things Considered." He lives in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
Advance Praise for Ghost Soldiers:
"Told with skill and intelligence, this is the story of a stirring and heroic rescue operation in World War II. Ghost Soldiers belongs on a shelf with General Hal Moore's and Joe Galloway's We Were Soldiers Once...And Young, and Mark Bowden's Black Hawk Down."
--David Halberstam, author of Playing for Keeps and The Best and the Brightest
"Ghost Soldiers is an enthralling, deeply disturbing look at the horrors of war. It is impossible to read this book without wondering uneasily how you, the reader, would respond if forced to undergo the monstrous trials described with such immediacy by Hampton Sides. Would you be able to endure? And at what cost to your soul?"
--Jon Krakauer, author of Into the Wild and Into Thin Air
"Ghost Soldiers took me on a queasy journey deep into the realm of pure evil--then rescued me in a blaze of heroics and righteous vengeance. There's grief, despair, and terror here, but there's also adventure, courage, and joy. It's a Great Escape for the Pacific Theater, but with a much more satisfying ending."
--Erik Larson, author of Isaac's Storm
"Utterly compelling and impressively detailed, Ghost Soldiers dramatically recounts the story behind the Bataan Death March and the realities of survival in a Japanse prison camp. Hampton Sides has fashioned a true-to-life narrative as intelligently orchestrated and satisfying as the raid that ultimately liberated these men."
--Stewart O'Nan, author of Everyday People and The Circus Fire
"Read the first ten pages of this moving book and you will be hooked by a riveting tale of American courage and heroism. In Ghost Soldiers Hampton Sides brings to life a forgotten adventure of World War II that you will always remember."
--James Bradley, author of Flags of Our Fathers