A fast-moving, real-life escape story, and an unexpected chronicle of a fight against censorship.




Sports and military historian Lukacs tells the story of the only successful escape of a group of POWs from a Japanese prison camp during World War II.

Lukacs effectively conveys the horrors of life for American POWs in the Philippines. The central figure of the story, Maj. William Edwin Dyess of the Army Air Forces, was an ace fighter pilot who sunk numerous Japanese boats. He was one of thousands of prisoners in the infamous Bataan Death March, in which prisoners were marched with little or no food or water in blistering heat; many were randomly bayoneted or beheaded. At the prison camps, conditions were scarcely better; the Japanese refused to follow the Geneva Convention rules for prisoner treatment. Prison-guard duty was seen as a lowly assignment in the Japanese army, given to the worst soldiers, who took out their frustrations on the Americans in the most brutal ways imaginable. Occasionally, prisoners would try unsuccessfully to escape; once, when three escapees were recaptured, the guards tied them to stakes and beat them for three days before shooting them. Nonetheless, Dyess and nine others were determined to escape, and they slipped away during a work detail, trudging through miles of marshland infested with leeches, crocodiles and stinging wasps. They met up with sympathetic Filipino guerrillas, and after many delays, ably captured by Lukacs, they eventually made it to freedom. However, in a strange twist, Dyess and the others were ordered not to discuss their brutal prison treatment. Among other concerns, higher-ups in the U.S. government were worried about Japanese retaliatory action against American prisoners still in the Philippines. The author’s account of the escapees’ determination to break their silence is one of the most engaging parts of the book.

A fast-moving, real-life escape story, and an unexpected chronicle of a fight against censorship.

Pub Date: May 11, 2010

ISBN: 978-0-7432-6278-1

Page Count: 464

Publisher: Simon & Schuster

Review Posted Online: Dec. 30, 2010

Kirkus Reviews Issue: April 1, 2010

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The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the...


Elie Wiesel spent his early years in a small Transylvanian town as one of four children. 

He was the only one of the family to survive what Francois Maurois, in his introduction, calls the "human holocaust" of the persecution of the Jews, which began with the restrictions, the singularization of the yellow star, the enclosure within the ghetto, and went on to the mass deportations to the ovens of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. There are unforgettable and horrifying scenes here in this spare and sombre memoir of this experience of the hanging of a child, of his first farewell with his father who leaves him an inheritance of a knife and a spoon, and of his last goodbye at Buchenwald his father's corpse is already cold let alone the long months of survival under unconscionable conditions. 

The author's youthfulness helps to assure the inevitable comparison with the Anne Frank diary although over and above the sphere of suffering shared, and in this case extended to the death march itself, there is no spiritual or emotional legacy here to offset any reader reluctance.

Pub Date: Jan. 16, 2006

ISBN: 0374500010

Page Count: 120

Publisher: Hill & Wang

Review Posted Online: Oct. 7, 2011

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2006

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For Howard Zinn, long-time civil rights and anti-war activist, history and ideology have a lot in common. Since he thinks that everything is in someone's interest, the historian—Zinn posits—has to figure out whose interests he or she is defining/defending/reconstructing (hence one of his previous books, The Politics of History). Zinn has no doubts about where he stands in this "people's history": "it is a history disrespectful of governments and respectful of people's movements of resistance." So what we get here, instead of the usual survey of wars, presidents, and institutions, is a survey of the usual rebellions, strikes, and protest movements. Zinn starts out by depicting the arrival of Columbus in North America from the standpoint of the Indians (which amounts to their standpoint as constructed from the observations of the Europeans); and, after easily establishing the cultural disharmony that ensued, he goes on to the importation of slaves into the colonies. Add the laborers and indentured servants that followed, plus women and later immigrants, and you have Zinn's amorphous constituency. To hear Zinn tell it, all anyone did in America at any time was to oppress or be oppressed; and so he obscures as much as his hated mainstream historical foes do—only in Zinn's case there is that absurd presumption that virtually everything that came to pass was the work of ruling-class planning: this amounts to one great indictment for conspiracy. Despite surface similarities, this is not a social history, since we get no sense of the fabric of life. Instead of negating the one-sided histories he detests, Zinn has merely reversed the image; the distortion remains.

Pub Date: Jan. 1, 1979

ISBN: 0061965588

Page Count: 772

Publisher: Harper & Row

Review Posted Online: May 26, 2012

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 1, 1979

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