BEHIND THE LINES by W.E.B. Griffin

BEHIND THE LINES

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KIRKUS REVIEW

 The seventh volume in Griffin's masterful narrative of the US Marines in WW II's Pacific theater (Close Combat, 1992, etc.) takes his battalion-sized cast of characters behind enemy lines from the Philippines to Washington, D.C. Before Bataan and Corregidor fell, Wendell Fertig, an Army engineer unwilling to become a prisoner of war, made his way to the island of Mindanao, where he promoted himself from lieutenant colonel to brigadier general to lead a ragtag bunch of Americans and Filipinos in rearguard actions against the Japanese invaders. While Fertig's irregulars manage to establish contact with the outside world by the fall of 1942, the US high command responds cautiously (in part because General MacArthur has publicly stated that guerrilla operations are impossible in the Philippines). Unwilling to miss a potentially good bet, Navy Secretary Frank Knox picks USMC General Fleming Pickering (who heads a shadowy intelligence unit) to mount a reconnaissance run from his Australian headquarters. Apprised of the mission, the OSS wants in (to establish a presence in the Far East), and the globe-trotting leatherneck soon finds himself engaged in a succession of close encounters with civilian as well as military brass. Equal to every occasion, Pickering musters an effective landing party from veterans of the Guadalcanal campaign; its ranks encompass the gung- ho likes of Lieutenant Ken McCoy (an ex-enlisted man known as Killer) and gunnery sergeant Ernest Zimmerman (an old China hand). Ferried into Mindanao by submarine early in 1943, Pickering's band of Marine Corps brothers locates Fertig, determines he's the real thing, and makes its way back to Allied lines with their findings, albeit not before enduring narrow escapes from occupation forces and evacuating a group of fellow Americans. A welcome addition to the series, again illustrating how home- front politicking can play as important a role as firepower on certain battlegrounds.

Pub Date: Jan. 16th, 1996
ISBN: 0-399-14086-7
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Putnam
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Nov. 1st, 1995




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