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Added on 27
Tears In The Darkness
The Story of
the Bataan Death March
and Its Aftermath
Elizabeth M. Norman
Added on 11 June
in the Darkness is a major new book about World War II, in
the tradition of All Quiet on the Western Front and
Hiroshima. For the first four months of 1942,
American, Filipino, and Japanese soldiers fought what was to
become America's first major land battle of World War II:
the battle for the tiny Philippine peninsula of Bataan. The
brutal fight ended with the surrender of 76,000 Filipinos
and Americans, the single largest defeat in American
defeat, though, was only the beginning, as Michael and
Elizabeth M. Norman make dramatically clear in this
powerfully original book. From April 1942 until the Japanese
surrendered in August 1945, the prisoners of war suffered an
ordeal of unparalleled cruelty and savagery:
forty-one months of starvation, dehydration,
hard labor, deadly disease, torture and murder, and journeys
on "hell ships" to the enemy's home land.
Normans bring to this story remarkable feats of reportage
and literary empathy. Their protagonist, Ben Steele, is a
figure out of Hemingway: a young cowboy and aspiring sketch
artist from Montana who joined the army to see the world and
ended up on a death march, and worse. In the end, his
is a story that goes beyond survival, a story of how one
man's abiding humanity sustained him.
Juxtaposed against Steele's story and the
sobering tale of the death march and its aftermath are the
heretofore untold accounts of a number of Japanese soldiers,
the common hohei who struggle to maintain their humanity
while carrying out their superiors' inhuman
result is a brave, beautifully written, and deeply affecting
book: an altogether new look at World War II that exposes
the myths of war and shows the extent of suffering and loss
on both sides.
[Author photograph: HW]
Michael Norman, a former reporter for The
New York Times and a Marine Corps combat veteran of Vietnam,
is now a professor of journalism at New York
University. He is the author of These Good Men:
Friendships Forged from War, a memoir.
Elizabeth Norman, author of Women at War:
the Story of Fifty Military Nurses Who Served in Vietnam and
We Band of Angels: The Untold Story of American Nurses
Trapped on Bataan by the Japanese, is a professor of
humanities at New York University's Steinhardt School of
Culture, Education, and Human Development.
Author photograph by Benjamin
drawings that appear throughout the book are taken from the
sketchbooks of Ben Steele and were made during his six
decades as an artist and teacher of art in Billings,
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
HISTORY / Military / World War
in the Darkness
HUNT AND KILL
U-505 and the
in the Atlantic
Theodore P. Savas, ed.
The first definitive study
of U-505 and its brilliant capture by the USS Guadalcanal
Task Force 22.3.
include everything from U-505's construction and combat
history, to the Allied naval intelligence, brave capture,
and final transportation and restoration for posterity as a
memorial for those who perished in the war and the Americans
responsible for U-505's capture.
You can see
this new book and order your copy today!
Check out the following link...
Mention this web site,
World War II Stories -- In Their Own
Words, and receive a signed copy.
Living Their Finest Hour:
World War II -- 1941 - 1945
Stories of Men
and Women who experienced the greatest event in the history
of the world -- World War II...As seen through their eyes
and told in their words.
This series of
pages will be a sounding board, have you, for the generation
referred to as "America's Greatest Generation". This
generation, collectively, experienced the most turbulent and
terrifying era in the history of this great nation. In their
own way they played their role in World War II -- helping to
shape the world and stopping the tide of world domination by
some of histories greatest tyrants.
collecting and building a database of tales by ordinary
folks who did their part in World War II -- from soldiers
who jumped into Normandy to an uncertain future, to guys who
watched in horror as the onslaught of wave upon wave of
Japanese dive bombers decimated the American bastion at
Pearl Harbor and the airfields of Oahu.
The tales will
not stop there, for there are many other tales about terror
in the skies while flying as a B-17 pilot experiencing 35
missions over fortress Europe only to see his best friend
killed in a head on collision. Or the experiences of a
navigator who flew over 35 missions during those same raids
into the heartland of Hitler's 3rd Reich and to this day
carries a memento of a raid over Berlin -- a piece of
schrapnel in his skull. Or a sailor witnessing firsthand the
agony of having his ship hit by bombs as it sat in dry dock
at Pearl Harbor.
Also look to
read the tale of a U. S. Marine Raider who witnessed first
hand just what it was like to experience "island hopping".
Some of the islands that he saw action on were Bougainville,
Guam, and Okinawa.
There is even
a story about a sailor who after his landing craft became
disabled, spent a harrowing experience on the landing
beaches of Iwo Jima -- during the first days of this bloody
We also are
collecting tales of folks, just ordinary folks such as you
and I who were there on the home front, doing their part to
help win the war. Or you might read the tale of a small town
girl going to town each weekend to see German POW's doing
their weekly marketing in the local dry goods store.
and so much more are here for you to read and appreciate the
folks who lived these experiences...just ordinary folks
thrust into one of the world's most dramatic events: World
War II. We hope to bring to you many more stories -- as
these pages unfold into a tribute to the men and women who
were heroes and have come forward to tell their stories --
THEIR OWN WORDS.
here is to begin by relating stories by folks who currently
live and reside in south Louisiana -- a small portion of the
population of this great country. But this is but a
beginning for this series of stories will eventually extend
to reach out and touch any and all Americans who wish to
place their small piece of American history on this
collection of stories.
recently been said that today, the generation that went off
to war during those dark and terrible years is currently
dying off at the rate of "1000 a day" [the figure has now
risen alarmingly to "1500 a day"] across this vast country
of ours. Most of these men and women have their story to
tell -- their finest hour and probably have never written
down their experiences about the war.
An Apology to World War II
by Tim Nichols
gentleman gave me something over twenty-six years ago that
really belongs to you World War II veterans. I think it's
time that I pass it on. I am a thief who took, enjoyed, and
hoarded something of yours. He meant for you to have it, but
he gave it to me.
had always been good to me back in Clinton, Ohio--my
hometown. When I learned that they were vacationing in
Vienna, I took a week's leave to go intercept them. The year
was 1977. I was a young soldier stationed in northern Italy.
A friend had
written, giving me the Mitzels' itinerary and the name of
their hotel. Joan Mitzel, then traveling in Europe with her
family, had accompanied me to the homecoming dance in my
senior year of high school.
attended church together.
the beautiful city, I got a room and telephoned my friends.
answered. When I was nineteen it did not occur to me that I
might be intruding. Dr. Mitzel made me feel that he was
delighted. We kept my presence in the city a secret until I
could sneak up on the family on the front steps of the opera
house. Puzzled looks, warm handshakes and hugs, and a few
"how-did-you-find-us-here" questions, asked in various ways,
marked our reuinion.
graciously took me with them for the day, sightseeing,
tasting food, and soaking up the beautiful sights of old
Vienna. It didn't matter to me what we did. It was good to
be with a family from home and away from the army for a few
That is when I
encountered the elderly gentleman on the sidewalk. Gray,
small, and stooped, walking with effort, he approached
slowly, tentatively, almost timidly--unlike a practiced
panhandler wanting a handout or a religious zealot with a
pamphlet. Struggling to speak the words in English, he
asked, "You--are an American? A soldier?"
"Yes, sir." I
said. "I'm an American and a soldier."
He reached out
a withered hand and touched my arm. His eyes misted.
reason, this was a meaningful moment for this aged gentleman
speaking to a stranger on a sidewalk in Vienna, Austria in
he started, but paused, searching for the word. "You are--,"
he began again, pausing, but then finding the word he
wanted, "noble." Then he said it again, all together, "You
are noble. You are a noble man." He patted my arm a few
times, gently tapping the sentiment into place.
sir," I said. "Thank you very much."
He looked at
me as though I were a magnificent statue portraying some
exalted luminary. Never had I felt so respected, so
or general pinning a medal on my chest could have expressed
more genuine admiration than the words, touch, and
countenance of that bent, wrinkled, humble man. I knew I had
done nothing at all to earn it, but I accepted it with
puzzled gratitude in that sudden, electric moment on the
sidewalk. I said, "thank you," and the man finally turned
and hobbled away.
Why? What had
I done to provoke such high praise? I was nothing more--or
less--than a generic American soldier on furlough in a
European city thirty-one years after the end of World War
II. My G.I. haircut must have given away that I was a
soldier. I wore civilian clothes.
Maybe the man
had overheard my speech and observed enough to suppose that
I was an American.
performed no noble act. The man respected me so highly
because I was an American soldier. He had no basis for
honoring me with such tribute beyond that. I stood in for
you to receive the reward. I was the visible symbol who just
happened to be there for the man who had to say
I accepted the
gift, knowing even then that it was for you. You earned the
respect that he gave me. Please accept my apology for
holding it for so many years before passing it
When I watch
the old black and white footage from World War II, sometimes
I think I see a younger version of the man I met in Vienna.
He is waving
and smiling at American tanks and soldiers, trying to get
your attention so he can thank you. At times, I think I can
make out his features on the faces of living skeletons borne
away from liberated concentration camps, unable to speak. At
least I know that it was supremely important to the man who
spoke to me in Vienna to say what he said to me that
films show images of you, too. You are trudging through mud,
or flying planes, driving tanks, smoking cigarettes in
foxholes, firing rifles, and writing lonely letters to loved
ones at home. I never have to struggle to find the fitting
word. A meek and gentle man gave it to me on a sidewalk in
Vienna. When he looked at me he saw you and told me what he
really wanted to tell you. You are--. I cannot bring myself
to just blurt out the word that he worked so hard to find
and chose so carefully. You are that thing because of what
you did for so many imperiled people. You endured hardships
to earn the two syllables that he used so reverently to
speak of you. Hold still long enough to feel his hand
tapping the sentiment into place. Picture his moist eyes and
hear his earnest, struggling voice when I tell you what he
said to you when he spoke to me: "You are noble. You are a
Tim Nichols is the author of THE
A Civil War Novel of the 12th West Virginia Infantry
The Reunion is now in
Please visit Timothy
Tim Nichols, is the Director of Student
Support Services at Potomac State College of WVU in Keyser,
The tribute above is reprinted with