1 March 2011
The novel, Ghost Soldiers, written by Hampton Sides, is a great work of literature, depicting the true horrors of war, friendship, and the one thing that was never lost, hope. The non-fictional book takes place in the Philippines during the Japanese occupation of the islands from 1942 and goes through three gruesome years to end in the year of 1945. The book begins with the idea of surrendering Bataan, an American occupied area of the Philippines, because of the severe amount of wounded and very little defense to last out or defeat the incoming Imperial Army. General Edward King formally surrendered Bataan and this marked the start of what would be later called the Bataan Death March which was a grueling and painstaking exodus of prisoners and one of the largest surrenders the Americans had made. During the exodus, the Japanese were relentless, taking victims for sheer revenge and the enjoyment of picking on someone of a now lower status than they were. If a soldier would be falling behind during the march a Japanese soldier wouldn't shoot him because they believed bullets were precious but instead they would stab the prisoner in the abdomen with their bayonet and twist it around to cut up the intestines and leave the body were it had just died. The prisoners were also stripped of any items on their person that were deemed valuable or if a Japanese soldier simply wanted a certain item. One account of this was when a prisoner had a ring from West Point and a Japanese soldier wanted the coveted ring, since the prisoner's finger had swollen he could not get the ring off so the Japanese soldier took the prisoner's hand, placed it against a tree and cut the man's finger off to get the ring. The Japanese were also cruel beyond belief during the prisoners' stay at the P.O.W. camp. The men had very little to eat and disease quickly engulfed them, measly diseases that would normally have not even had the slightest effect on a healthy human being. After almost three years, the healthy prisoners that could work were to leave on ships for Japan to be used there and the sick were to be left behind, the prisoners had to take three different ships all of which were destroyed by American airplanes which had many friendly casualties. The Japanese were beginning to show fear for they knew that an impending American army was fast approaching after three years at war. During this time that the Japanese were making arrangements to leave for their home country, a group of Rangers in the Sixth Army Battalion lead by General Mucci, made way to free the entrapped prisoners near the city of Cabanatuan. The one hundred twenty-one Rangers joined forces with two ally Filipino guerilla groups to free the prisoners at dusk and then hike a twenty-five mile trek back to American lines. The assault was successful but there were some casualties like Dr. Jimmy Fisher who was injured because of a shrapnel wound to the stomach, one which caused him excruciating pain to the point where he would come in and out of unconsciousness but later the next day after the liberation of prisoners he unfortunately died.
Throughout the novel, Ghost Soldiers, there were many memorable and important moments signifying different aspects of the book. One especially memorable moment in the book was the Bataan Death March. This moment was just the start of all the hardships that the soldiers, now prisoners of war, would endure and the gruesome and hideous things that the Japanese soldiers would do. The prisoners were told to march to their encampment even though many of which were already sapped of their strength from lack of nutrition and the current war. Prisoners were also stripped of material possessions many of which the Japanese soldiers took as their own as souvenirs. Not only were the Japanese soldiers cruel but they were relentless in acting out orders and had a thirst for...