Author: William B. Breuer
Strong>Paperback: 304 pages (also available in paperback, audio and e-formats)
Publisher: Miramax (May 22, 2002)
Before General Douglas MacArthur could fulfill his stirring promise of “I shall return” and re-take the Philippines from Japanese control, a remarkable rescue mission would have to take place. Captured American soldiers had been held at the notorious Cabanatuan prison camp for more than 33 months. Emaciated and ill from brutal mistreatment, a mere 511 POWs remained from the 25,000-strong force that MacArthur had been ordered to abandon on February 23, 1942.
On the morning of January 28, 1945, a small band of Army Rangers set out on an audacious and daring rescue effort: to penetrate 30 miles into Japanese controlled territory, storm the camp, and escape with the POWs, carrying them if necessary.
William B. Breuer recounts in searing, meticulous detail based largely on interviews with survivors of the hellish battles of Bataan and Corregidor; the horrors of the Bataan death march; and the harrowing efforts of guerilla fighters. A classic of its kind, The Great Raid tells the full story of this episode with a breadth and depth of detail that goes far beyond other accounts including Hampton Sides’s best-selling Ghost Soldiers. The Great Raid is a thrilling true-life adventure story and an inspiring testament o American heroism and grit. And as retired four-star General Barry McCaffrey asserts in his introduction, The Great Raid is an “important book for our current military and political leaders to read.”
When I watched The Great Raid I had no idea it was originally a book. William B. Breuer’s The Great Raid is a perfect example of the book being SO MUCH BETTER than the movie. And keep in mind that I thought the movie was fabulous! While the movie focuses in the actual raid to rescue the POWs in the Phillipines, the book The Great Raid contains much more backstory, going back to the days before MacArthur left the Phillipines. It follows the soldiers when they are still holding out against the Japanese, their eventual surrender, the Death March, their moving to various POW camps as well as Japan, the Filipino natives and other residents who supported the POWs, the guerilla groups in the jungle and the eventual rescue of the POWs and the aftermath. This is a riveting story that will make you wonder at both the cruelty and the kindness that man can show to others.
At the time, this was a part of military history that many politicians and military leaders must have wished would disappear from the public consciousness. In fact they did the best they could to keep these events under the radar. But it did happen and is something everyone should know. I recommend that anyone interested in World War II or the power of humanity read this book.