What is the true nature of heroism?
Atwood (Women Heroes of World War II, 2011, etc.) offers a quote from George F. Kennan in an epigraph to this engrossing history of heroic women: “Heroism is endurance for one moment more.” Fifteen biographies of women with roles in the Pacific theater of World War II follow. The women, both white and Asian (non-Japanese), came from a variety of countries and include nurses, spies, missionaries, journalists, and a brutalized sex slave for Japanese soldiers. Many endured inhuman mistreatment at the hands of Japanese military. Although the biographies are brief, they effectively convey the devastating effects of the war and offer graphic information about casualties. An epilogue clearly explains both the international situation in the summer of 1945 and the Japanese military stance that led up to the American decision to use atomic bombs to end the war in the Pacific. Photographs with useful captions and occasional well-placed text boxes offer additional information. Detailed endnotes, a lengthy bibliography, and suggested discussion questions round out the presentation. Only one of the admirable women, Elizabeth MacDonald, who served mostly in Washington, D.C., in the Office of Strategic Services (after beginning the war near Pearl Harbor), seems to fail to fully exemplify Kennan’s definition. Japanese women who demonstrated heroism are notably absent from this Allied-leaning overview.
A worthy addition to military collections. (index, not seen) (Nonfiction. 12-18)