Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Anrui (Tears in the Darkness)

Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its AftermathTears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath by Michael Norman

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Michael Norman and Elizabeth Norman wrote an incredible book when they wrote Tears in the Darkness: the Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath. The surrender of more than 76,000 American and Filipino troops on the Bataan peninsula is not a part of World War II that I learned much about in history classes, and I am so thankful that I stumbled upon this book at the library.

Captivating and well-written, this book also dredged up academic memories from college experience at Whittier College. Initially, I found some of the facts so horrific and disgusting they were nearly unbelievable. And then, I found myself intensely disappointed with a four-star general; so disappointed that I started to think about the classes I took on history and theory. This general is so celebrated, and when I read what he did, I wondered why this bit of his military career is kept so quiet.

Then I remembered how history is an account influenced by a historians experiences, the questions they ask and the answers they seek (something I learned at Whittier). Even now, after I finished the book, I wonder what made the authors chose to tell this particular story in this way. Tears in the Darkness is told from the American point of view, I found that the Normans also give you a flip-side perspective, so you cannot help but question our own country's actions.

It was a humbling and emotional experience to read this book. I cannot even begin to understand how American and Filipino prisoners of war endured, nor can I wrap my mind around the inhumanity we humans inflict upon one another. Then there was anger, shame, and pride. Anger and shame for both the Japanese and the Americans. Pride in how these POWs withstood the degradation, helped one another and most of all, survived.

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