THE PACIFIC: Then and Now by Bruce Bahrenburg

THE PACIFIC: Then and Now

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A combination travelogue and retrospective nostalgia piece on World War II valor in the Pacific, this is an unpretentious, pleasant bit of island-hopping which takes in famous battle sites -- Wake Island, The Death March at Bataan, Midway, Iwo Jima and Pearl Harbor (where the movies Tora! Tora! Tora! and Victory at Sea are on display for visitors seeking to rekindle memories of the righteous war). Bahrenburg also offers the armchair tourist some sketchily informative notes on present-day lifestyles, political regimes and economic parameters in various Far Eastern outposts. Apparently he was particularly attentive to the working habits of prostitutes -- from Honolulu to Hong Kong, to Manila and Formosa we are given comparative evaluations. In Hong Kong ""everyone sells below list price, except the whores""; in Honolulu the vice scene has deteriorated from ""lively bars and whores to dirty books and homosexuals""; and at the best Taipei hotel clerks ask the tourist ""whether he would prefer a woman for the night or for the length of his stay."" Mutatis mutandis anti-Americanism is everywhere on the rise among the young; the older generation remembers Yanks as comrades or worthy adversaries; MacArthur mythology still flourishes and Bible-belt missionaries still flock to the more remote islands to bring religion and morality to the tourist-fed natives. In the crowded ghettos of Asia ""dirty-faced children beg shamelessly for American dollars."" Honolulu and Hong Kong are not nearly as charming as they were before the war and many of the small islands -- Wake and Guadalcanal and Rabaul -- are really pretty boring. . . .

Pub Date: June 11th, 1971
Publisher: Putnam