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True fiction -- sounds like a contradiction in terms, and we were a trifle uncertain as to where to place it, but decided it belonged here, as factual content presented in fictional form. Dr. Wassell is an actual person, a doctor from Arkansas, a man who had come to consider himself somewhat of a failure, who was unsure of himself when he came into the Dutch hospital in the back hills of Java, prepared to take over the care of a ward of badly burned survivors of an American vessel. The men found him disappointing, at first -- perhaps they took him on his own valuation? And then, as James Hilton tells the story, simply, unemotionally, just as it must have happened, Dr. Wassell accepted them as his boys; put up with their foibles; cheated the rules when he found ways to get around them spoiled them when circumstances made it possible; and brought all hat one of them through -- up to the moment when Japanese penetration of Java became a reality, not an impossibility. Then he tells the story of how those men, stretcher cases some of them, were brought down to the port, and of how the doctor bullied their way on to a crowded ship -- all but nine of them, and those he was forced to take back. Twenty-four hours later, the last chance came to evacuate them -- and he took it. A story of undramatized heroism; there was a job to do and he loved his boys -- so he did it. That was all. But it makes a moving story, whose emotional values deepen in retrospect rather than at the time of reading. This is more than just another personality --another incident in global war. It is a small book, with a big chance for a plus sale.

Pub Date: April 22nd, 1943
Publisher: Little, Brown