Ghost Soldiers Review
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Ghost Soldiers is a story of what the human spirit can endure and what good men are willing to do for men they’ve never met.

In the earliest days of World War II, the American Army was losing the fight to keep the Philippine Islands out of the hands of the Japanese. It was a lost cause, and the part of the Army that had been holding out on the southern tip of Luzon Island finally had to surrender. It was the largest number of American troops to ever give up to an enemy force. The Japanese Army was surprised that such a large number of soldiers would be ordered to give up and didn't really have a good plan for dealing with the prisoners. They marched the defeated Americans over sixty miles with no food and little water or rest to the camps where they would stay for the next three years. Today, we refer to that trek as the Bataan Death March. Nearly 2000 American soldiers were killed by their captors, or died from lack of water, before they reached the camps.

  
 
One of the camps was Camp Cabantuan. At its peak, over 7000 prisoners of war were housed there. As the war dragged on, the Japanese would take the healthy members of the camp to other camps to serve as slaves for the Japanese war effort. By 1945, there were barely 2000 men being held prisoner at Cabantuan. The men there had endured beatings at the hands of their captors. They had been exposed to the elements. They had been systematically starved. They didn't have the medicines needed to cure the simplest of illnesses Because their diets were so limited and lacked vitamins, some of the men went blind. Almost all of them were infected with malaria or dysentery. If there is a hell, these men suffered through it during those years.

When the 6th Army returned to the Philippines in 1945, they heard about the camp from local guerilla fighters. It was quickly decided that the prisoners needed to be rescued. The camp wasn't of any real strategic importance, but it was one of major importance to the morale of the Army. This was a mission that could not be passed over, and the Rangers could not afford to screw it up.

Ghost Soldiers is expertly told by Hampton Sides. He bounces from player to player as he builds the story. The book is full of first-hand accounts and quotes from the prisoners and the men who rescued them. This is a great book about a remarkable moment in American history. It shows, in a very dramatic way, how much suffering a man can endure, and the lengths that soldiers will go to do the right thing. Highly recommended.

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