BACK TO CORREGIDOR by Gerard M. Devlin


America Retakes the Rock
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 Sharply told account of how US paratroopers took back ``The Rock'' from Japan in a pivotal WW II battle; by Devlin (Paratrooper!, 1979). Where Pearl Harbor was a sudden devastation from the air, the battle for the Philippines was messy from the start, beginning with MacArthur's decision (despite radar warning) to leave his aircraft on the ground to be destroyed. In due course, the Japanese forced American troops to retreat to Corregidor, where they were to be rescued but were not. Devlin weaves the details of the US attack to retake the island into a tale that conveys the realities of airborne warfare, right down to those whose chutes failed and the startling death by suicide of the airborne commander shortly before the battle. He also makes a convincing case that the use of paratroops was extremely wise, the Japanese having prepared thoroughly for a conventional attack. But while this is an excellent account of a very interesting military engagement, Devlin's uncritical and enthusiastic assessment of MacArthur reflects a weakness in his approach. Unlike George Feifer (Tennozan, p. 368) or Thurston Clarke (Pearl Harbor Ghosts, 1991), Devlin fails to create a sophisticated historical/cultural context for his tales of battle, nor does he go deeply into the lives of participants. His is patriotic writing in which individuals and concepts are not much explored. The crushed ribs, concussions, and splintered bones of difficult landings are there, along with ugly details of the hand-to-hand fighting common in the Pacific Theater, but while names are given, there is little sense of who is receiving that pain, or why. Conventional military history of a high order, but without the leavening of thoughtfulness that could raise it to a still higher level. (Photos--32 pages--not seen.)

Pub Date: June 1st, 1992
ISBN: 0-312-07648-7
Page count: 320pp
Publisher: St. Martin's
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 15th, 1992