The first biography of Wainwright, and though a little simpleminded (he's ""a genuine, old-fashioned, flag-waving,...


HERO OF BATAAN: The Story of General Wainwright

The first biography of Wainwright, and though a little simpleminded (he's ""a genuine, old-fashioned, flag-waving, gun-toting American hero""), close to the mark historically and full of new material. Beginning with Wainwright's early years, Schultz (Wake Island) follows him from West Point into the cavalry; from the Philippines to France in World War I; and then into a long peacetime career as one of the most distinguished mounted officers in the American service. Wainwright's assignment to the Philippines in 1940 was the beginning of a new career for him, Schultz notes, since he was officially overage for combat service. The bulk of the book is devoted, inescapably, to Wainwright in the Philippines--as MacArthur's subordinate on Luzon before and during the Japanese invasion, as a commander of American and Filipino troops on Bataan, and then as commander of US forces. . . through his surrender of his battered, depleted command at Corregidor. From interviews and newly declassified documents, we not only get a sense of tough-minded, hard-drinking Wainwright's soldierly qualities, we see the other protagonists close-up; the ""enticing orbit"" around MacArthur, the untrained Filipino soldiers, Japanese general Homma in tears at a temporary setback. MacArthur, to no surprise, comes off poorly--for his demurral in the award of the Medal of Honor to Wainwright, for his refusal to pass along critical information to the general on Bataan or to keep FDR properly informed. Then, after the humiliating, heart-breaking surrender, Wainwright is imprisoned--and bears the extra burden, during those long years, of wondering if he'll be court-martialled. By no means a noteworthy biography, but an appreciative, fully-researched account of a worthy life.

Pub Date: Nov. 26, 1981


Page Count: -

Publisher: St. Martin's

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1, 1981