Undefeated: America's Heroic Fight for Bataan and Corregidor
Contributor: C. Peter Chen
Review Date: 28 Jun 2012
The opening of the Pacific War was marked by the seizure of western colonial holdings. The Philippine Islands, an American possession (although slated to be given independence), were among the first targets chosen by the Japanese in the southward expansion. Effectively deemed impossible to defend, the US-Filipino defense of the islands was marked by unpreparedness, lack of political support, and command-level blunders. Doomed to fail from even before the war had started, the defenders of the main island of Luzon backed into the Bataan Peninsula and held the Japanese for as long as they could, waiting for the reinforcement promised by Washington which would never come.
Despite what the title might suggest, author Bill Sloan's Undefeated: America's Heroic Fight for Bataan and Corregidor was not a work of history, but rather a collective memoir who fought on Bataan and Corregidor, some of whom would become captured, experienced the Death March, and witnessed the prisoner of war camps and forced labor camps. Although the author did provide some historical context, the battles were generally presented only from the perspective of the surviving American veterans. He drew a vivid picture of the gruesome combat that lasted for months, the troops fighting on the line against repeated Japanese assaults despite dwindling ammunition and food supplies and the arrival of diseases. The misplaced hatred for Douglas MacArthur among the soldiers and Marines was described with clear emotion, while their tales of the sufferings at the hands of the cruel Japanese captors clearly presented Sloan's intentions of making their sacrifices known.
I had reviewed this title in its audio book format. Michael Prichard, who was among my favorite readers, did a fine job with this book. Although I believe this was not his best work, he still did a great job with pace, clarity, and the various character voices. There were one or two of instances of sudden volume increase or decrease between tracks, but none too troublesome.
Undefeated would serve as a good secondary companion reading to histories of the Bataan battles and Japanese treatment of prisoners of war, providing first-hand personal experiences from US servicemen.
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James Forrestal, Secretary of the Navy, 23 Feb 1945