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Ghost Soldiers Hardcover – July 5, 2001

4.7 out of 5 stars 6 ratings

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Product details

  • Publisher ‏ : ‎ Little, Brown; Book Club Edition (July 5, 2001)
  • Language ‏ : ‎ English
  • ISBN-10 ‏ : ‎ 4444407549
  • ISBN-13 ‏ : ‎ 978-4444407540
  • Item Weight ‏ : ‎ 1.33 pounds
  • Customer Reviews:
    4.7 out of 5 stars 6 ratings

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HAMPTON SIDES is the author of In the Kingdom of Ice, Ghost Soldiers, Blood and Thunder, Hellhound On His Trail, and other bestselling works of narrative history and literary non-fiction. His newest work, On Desperate Ground, will be published by Doubleday this October. Hampton is an editor-at-large for Outside magazine. His magazine work, collected in numerous published anthologies, has been twice named a Finalist for the National Magazine Awards in feature writing. A recent fellow of the Santa Fe Institute, he teaches literary journalism and narrative history at Colorado College. A native of Memphis with a BA in history from Yale, he lives in Santa Fe with his wife Anne.

Customer reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5
6 global ratings
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Top review from the United States

Reviewed in the United States on August 30, 2021
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4.0 out of 5 stars A true-life mission impossible
By Chevron Ross on August 29, 2021
World War II has produced so many history books that a person could spend a lifetime reading them all. One of the best is about a long-forgotten rescue mission I’d never heard of until someone recommended it to me.

In January 1945, a unit of U.S. Army Rangers embarked on a secret campaign to liberate 500 Japanese war prisoners from an encampment in the Philippines. Evidence from previous incidents had led American officers to fear that the Japanese, on the verge of losing the war, might exterminate the men at any moment.

Author Hampton Sides has constructed a dramatic chronology of events from two alternating viewpoints: the prisoners held captive for three years under appallingly cruel conditions, and the Rangers on their stealthy march through enemy territory. It was a real-life mission impossible: how to free and transport 500 sick, starving men 30 miles back to safety.

Sides has painstakingly reconstructed the story from interviews with survivors of the raid, who received invaluable assistance from Filipino troops, guerrillas and civilians. One of the best anecdotes concerns a female American spy known as High Pockets, who collected Japanese military intelligence for the Allies and helped supply the desperate men in POW camps.

Thanks to the author’s attention to detail, we learn a great deal about the prisoners and how they coped with their physical and mental torment as “ghost soldiers,” seemingly forgotten amidst the larger conflict raging around them. It is a deeply moving tribute to the self-sacrificing spirit for which World War II veterans are renowned.

This is a five-star book that I have reduced to four stars only because of its many instances of profanity and foul language. Otherwise, I am happy to recommend it even to readers who don’t like history. No fiction writer could produce a book more fascinating than this.
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