For the first four months of 1942, American, Filipino, and Japanese soldiers fought 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. This was only the beginning. 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 and literary empathy. 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 heretofore untold accounts of Japanese soldiers who struggled to maintain their humanity while carrying out their superiors’ inhuman commands.
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