The primary character is Ben Steele,
but General Homma becomes a central character. Both are portrayed as
men who were caught up in events beyond their control. We both can feel
a certain amount of sympathy for Homma the man, because he was clearly
not the typical Japanese military man. However, we found the apparent
attempt to elicit equal sympathy levels for Homma and Steele demeaning
to the suffering of Ben and all of the POWs. Homma, in his command
position, was ultimately responsible for their suffering.
You may be wondering why Steve,
especially, is so critical of Tears. The answer is because it
has become a best-seller. He is not nearly so critical of the many
first-hand accounts, written by men who are not professional writers,
who do not have scores of people behind the scenes to assist in writing
or proofing the text to ensure accuracy and consistency. Granted, Steve
is critical, but to be fair, he also critically acclaims many portions
of the book, saying that they are excellent, outstanding, or the best he
has ever read on the subject. And he does recommend the book, noting
that the interviews with certain Japanese add new insights into the
plight of the POWs, which is his ultimate concern.
The following notes were sent to
Tears in the Darkness
had been recommended to us by several people in recent months.
Living as we do on a remote island, and on a tight retirement
budget, we are very selective about purchases here in the
Philippines, and must be conscious of weight restrictions when
returning from U.S. visits. We were delighted to receive your book
in November as a gift from a Filipino friend.
We have not read any reviews
of the book. The observations that we make are entirely our own.
We understand that the book is a best-seller and therefore our
criticisms are probably in the minority. However, the errors that
we point out are just that, errors. As Steve often states, there
are facts and there are opinions. Whether or not Douglas MacArthur
was a great general is an opinion. Whether or not he was a coward,
as implied by the nick-name “Dugout Doug,” is not an opinion. In
fact, he was brave to the point of appearing suicidal, demonstrated
by his standing in the open counting Japanese bombers passing over
Corregidor, something reported by Steve’s father and many others.
You wrongfully leave readers with the impression that he was a
coward. We’d recommend Amea Willoughby’s book, I Was on
Corregidor, for one eyewitness account of his prolonged stays
outside the tunnel.
We are always glad when a book
or movie brings the war in the Pacific and the plight of the POWs of
the Japanese to the minds of the American public, and therefore we
are very pleased that this book has become a best-seller. The
English editing in the book is outstanding. We found only one gross
grammatical error where the word “the” was missing from a sentence.
One of Steve’s degrees is in English, the other in physics. Marcia
majored in English and has an allied-health degree, and we are both
very well read. Because of our intense interest in the subject
matter, we read books like yours as if they were textbooks, and are
disappointed when we encounter inaccuracies.
That Tears in the Darkness
contains a number of errors distresses us, especially since you name
a number of editors who should have pointed them out to you. Some
of the items we have listed beneath the title “Errors” are just
that, verifiable errors, while others are cases of conflicting
information within the book.
We are currently staying on
the island of Corregidor. We are very familiar with Corregidor and
quite familiar with the Death March routes and the prison camps,
having toured these areas and studied the subject for years. We are
intimately acquainted with Col. Art Matibag, director of the
Corregidor Foundation. Leslie Murray of the American Chamber of
Commerce in the Philippines is one of our best friends here. Both
are referenced at the back of your book and can vouch for our
veracity and knowledge of the subject matter.
The title of the book is “Tears in the
Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its
Aftermath.” This would lead the reader to expect the material
to almost totally focus on the Death March and its aftermath.
In fact the Death March is covered in 56 pages. There are more
pages (174) about events which precede the Death March (seven of
which are placed in the book after the story of the march) than
the 168 pages that deal with aftermath. Thus the subtitle is
“Tears in the Darkness” comes from a
paragraph about Homma on page 113. It does not appear to refer
in any way to the American POWs who suffered their own “tears in
the darkness” – and tears in the daylight – for over three
The map at the opening of the book does not
include many places of significance to the story, even some that
are frequently mentioned. One example would be Mt. Samat, but
there are many. We’d suggest either a more comprehensive map or
The chapter on the trial of Masaharu Homma is
43 pages long. We don’t see why more than 10% of the book
covers that one side topic. Although interesting, a few pages
would have been more than sufficient. The Homma trial could be
its own book. Also, there is no mention of the U.S. failing to
prosecute the foremost war criminal, the man at the top: Emperor
Hirohito. This book seems at least as much an apologetic for
MacArthur’s treatment of Homma as an attempt to describe the
horrors that occurred under Homma’s command.
The story of Masanobu Tsuji’s presence and
actions on Bataan (pages 371-2, during the Homma defense) is
interesting, but is left unresolved, since the only material on
him appears to come from potentially-suspect Japanese sources
even when contained in books by others. Tsuji’s behavior was
introduced during the trial in an apparent attempt to exonerate
Homma. The CIA refusal to confirm or deny information about
Tsuji is also provocative. Homma himself, however, stated his
personal moral responsibility for the actions of his men.
The final chapter, especially the ending,
left Steve flat. Having been privileged to sit down and talk
with Ben Steele in 2008, he knew Ben had survived his recent
health scare. The book does not say so. Steve just didn’t get
any “warm and fuzzy” with this as the end of the book. On the
other hand, Ben’s reunion with his family had him in tears.
Marcia enjoyed the post-war material but also felt that the
readers should not be left to wonder if Ben recovered.
Your readers – even English majors – should
not need to refer to their dictionaries so often. This does not
present itself as a technical book, or one written for the
super-educated elite. At least we hope not. We apparently are
not alone. Steve ran several of the words past a 1957
University of Michigan graduate with a degree in English who was
not familiar with a single one of them.
Despite clear references to the POWs being
used as slave laborers in coal mines, factories, and other
venues that supported the Japanese war machine, there is no
mention of these facts: the American POWs have never received
one yen of reparations in the form of pay from the Japanese
government or the companies which survived during and thrived
after the war; neither have these POWs ever received an apology
from the Japanese government. You must be aware of this, since
the principal in the effort to obtain reparations and an apology
is Lester Tenney, whom you interviewed and quoted on pages 173
The book seems to be unsure of its purpose.
Is it Ben Steele’s story, as Peter Matthiessen claims on the
back cover? If so, there is a lot of extraneous material (in
particular, the Homma trial.) Is it, as stated, the story of
the Death March and its aftermath? If so, why include so much
preliminary material? Or is trying to gain sympathy for Homma –
appearing to equate his suffering to Steele’s – a hidden
agenda? We find it curious that Homma’s story consumes so many
pages, yet he is not mentioned anywhere on the dust jacket.
Errors: the following should be
corrected as soon as possible:
p. XI – Location of Camp O’Donnell on map is
the one currently in use, which is 20 to 25 miles west-northwest
of Capas, Tarlac. Camp O’Donnell (the prison camp) and site of
current Capas National Shrine is about three miles out of town,
as correctly stated on p. 222.
p. 3 – Very first sentence of book states
that the Philippine Islands lie “in the warm tropical waters of
the South China Sea.” That is like saying that the United
States lies in the Pacific Ocean. In fact the South China Sea
is only one of several seas that surround the Philippines,
including the Philippine, Sulu, Celebes, and Mindanao Seas.
p. 15 – “…the 31st Infantry, the
only ‘All-American’ army regiment in the islands.” The 59th
and 60th Coast Artillery Regiments were
“All-American” and garrisoned on Corregidor.
p. 25 – There is the misconception, repeated
here, that the Philippines was to be attacked “roughly at the
same moment” as Pearl Harbor, which lies “some five thousand
miles [and at the time five and one half time zones] to the
east.” “The same moment” would have been 2:00 AM in the
Philippines. The earliest the Philippines could have been hit,
i.e. sunrise, would have been roughly three hours after Pearl
p. 28 – “…high pressure sucking the low
pressure from every recess around it…” High pressure doesn’t
“suck,” low pressure does, producing a vacuum effect.
p. 71 – The old National Road “began at
Mariveles, the tip of the peninsula, and ran hard north by the
bay forty-one miles…” The first nine miles is almost straight
east to Cabcaben, as stated correctly on p. 168. The map on p.
XI clearly shows this. Again on p. 146 the text states, “[the
soldiers] were streaming south from Cabcaben down the Old
National Road.” “South” would have put them into Manila Bay
heading straight for Corregidor. This is also obvious on the
p. 115 – “…MacArthur, who was holed up
underground in a command tunnel on Corregidor…” and p. 121 –
“For the most part [MacArthur] stayed holed up underground on
the island of Corregidor…” In fact, MacArthur spent as much
time as possible outside of the tunnel – too much to suit his
aides. He, his wife and their son lived in a house a quarter
mile east of the Malinta Tunnel entrance, staying there whenever
possible, and only going inside the tunnel when the Japanese
bombing was most intense, which wasn’t very often before he left
for Australia. It is true that he only visited the men on
Bataan once (not mentioned in the book if we remember
correctly), and these are the men who gave him the nickname
“Dugout Doug.” It was about as accurate a nickname as calling
Wilt Chamberlain “Shorty.”
p. 121 – Malinta Hill begins at sea level and
is between 425 and 430 feet high, not 390. The tunnel is
24-feet wide, not 30. And most importantly, the tunnel’s main
shaft is 836 feet long (less than one-sixth of a mile), not
“almost a mile long,” as the book states. The entire tunnel
complex is well over two miles in length.
p. 123 – Washington’s Birthday is not
February 23, it is the 22nd, unless it was changed
without our knowledge.
p. 167 states that the Death March began on
April 10, while p. 361 says April 9. (Some men claim to have
already started marching on the 9th. We’ve seen both
dates, but not in the same book unless speaking of some of the
men having started on one day and some on the other.)
p. 233 – “…the island’s beach force of four
thousand marines, sailors, and Filipino soldiers had been bombed
and starved to the breaking point.” This totally disregards the
largest contingent: the men of the U.S. Army. Further confusing
the matter, on the next page you state that there were 9,000
Americans and 2,000 Filipinos who became prisoners of war. The
exact numbers are impossible to determine for two reasons. The
totals included the men from the other three fortified islands
in Manila Bay, and also included the roughly 2,000 who came over
from Bataan in early April. A better estimate of those
surrendered on Corregidor would be 8,000 Americans and 3,000
pgs. 233-4 – “They fought the invaders
fiercely, fought them for nearly a day.” H-Hour is considered
to be 11:30 P.M. on May 5, when Battery Way began firing at the
Japanese landing craft amassing at Cabcaben. The first craft
reached Corregidor’s shore at 12:30 A.M. May 6. Tanks were
brought ashore by 10:30 A.M., and at 11:05 A.M. the first
surrender message was sent by radio. Therefore the fierce
fighting lasted less than 12 hours, or half a day.
p. 296 – “In July 1944, his name appeared…”
Since the ship set sail on July 2, the name would have appeared
on the list in June at Cabanatuan, prior to moving the men to
Bilibid and then to the ship. Steve’s father was also on this
list and they would have been transported together.
p. 318 – “September 1, 1944…” According to
every source I’ve seen, including the sworn testimony of Col.
Guy Haines Stubbs, who was ranking officer on board, the trip
took 62 days, beginning on July 2 and ending at Moji on
September 2. The passage through Shimonoseki must therefore
have occurred on or after September 2.
Questionable statements that
should be considered for revision:
p. 44 – “Luzon… a roughly rectangular tract
of land...” Luzon is very irregular in shape. One might say
the northern half of the island is “roughly rectangular,” but
the southern half is a narrow and meandering strip.
p. 72 – “…with the temperature often over a
hundred degrees…” The actual temperature almost never hits 100
degrees, although the high is usually 95-98 with high humidity
at that time of year. We also question that, “The humidity
never dropped below 75%, even in the dry season….” It certainly
does on Corregidor, three miles away.
p. 88 – “magandang gabi” is not
Tagalog for “good evening.” This is a technical point, but the
phrase literally means “beautiful evening.” “Good” in Tagalog
is mabuti, thus mabuting gabi, although the term
is not used as a greeting.
p. 188 – “…in all 76,000 captives passing
through a staging and rest depot…” in Balanga. On page 414 it
says 76,000 “in theory” started the Death March, and on page 199
the book says that Zoeth Skinner stopped counting at 1,000
bodies, “before or just after Balanga.” Obviously both numbers
could not be the same 76,000. The note on page 414 also states,
“Approximately 500 Americans and perhaps as many as 2,500
Filipinos” died on the Death March. Although estimates have
been decreased over the years, we have never before read or
heard anyone claim that less than 5,000 Filipinos died on the
Death March, and the number is usually stated as between five
and ten thousand. By the book’s math, all of the 76,000
soldiers made it to Balanga (roughly half the distance of the
march) but that 15,000-17,000 Filipinos disappeared between
Balanga and Camp O’Donnell. This is extremely unlikely.
Certainly some Filipinos escaped at points along the entire
route. These numbers, especially those of dead and missing
Filipinos, need to be reconsidered, since they defy logic and
vary radically from generally accepted figures.
p. 230 – Vertigo is not best described as
“severe disorientation.” “Severe dizziness” or “disequilibrium”
would be better terms. Disorientation is usually used to
describe a person’s mental status, being considered closer to
dementia than to dizziness. Since this occurs in a list of
medical terms and definitions, the clinically correct
terminology would be preferable. (Marcia has suffered from
severe vertigo, has done extensive research on the topic, and
underwent a rare surgical procedure to remedy most of her
archaic usages, fancy language:
p. 10 – “supernumeraries”
p. 15 – “toft and croft” describing “Manila’s
fabled Army and Navy club”
p. 44 – “bight” and “debouched the defiles”
p. 75 – “agitprop” and “hidebound” (same
sentence) and “sybarites”
p. 78 – “alembics” totally unnecessary word,
since the description which follows is much more helpful and
apparently defines alembics.
p. 85 – “abattoir”
p. 171 – “suppurate” Marcia does not
recognize the word despite her wound-care experience. Could use
a word such as “oozing.”
p. 188 – “tatterdemalions,” meaning something
like “ragamuffins,” but neither word does justice to their
actual condition at the time.
p. 189 – “helpless against the ‘exigencies’
of the disease…” “Effects”, “symptoms” or “realities” would all
be better than “exigencies”.
p. 190 – “dysphoric”
p. 319 – “colliery” is not defined until the
bottom of page 322, after being used again earlier on 322.
p. 343 – “panjandrum”
p. 354 – “atavistic”
p. 356 – “… some ‘tony’ Manhattan law firm.”
“Tony” might make sense to a New Yorker, but Midwesterners are
not familiar with the term.
p. 362 – “opprobrium”
p. 373 – “pettifoggery”
Questionable phrasing and
p. 43 – “…then he made the general
commander…” “General” appears to be an adjective modifying the
word “commander,” rather than what it actually is: a reference
to General MacArthur.
p. 75 – “And from this land of libertines…”
This sentence begins a paragraph. The authors appear to be
characterizing American soldiers as “unfit and immoral.” Is this
the authors’ opinion? The rest of the paragraph clearly
reflects Japanese thought on the subject.
p. 162 – “…across the bay to Manila, Cavite,
Bulacan.” This is confusing. These are three separate
destinations (a city and two provinces), but it sounds like one
p. 166 – The term “clown” is used for a
Japanese soldier. This appears to be from a story told by
Richard Gordon, but if so the “clown” comment should be in
quotes. It looks like the authors’ word choice.
p. 191 – “Suddenly, one of unconscious men…”
p. 191 – “grotesques” is used to describe
abandoned, unburied corpses of the POWs. The terminology seems
inhumane, without dignity. Why not “corpses” or bodies?”
p. 233 – “No daydreams, no ideas, but in
things.” This is a confusing sentence, becoming clear in
context only after several re-readings. It might be better
phrased as “No daydreams, no ideas, but focusing on things.”
p. 237 – “derelicts” is used to describe
unburied corpses of the POWs. A very poor choice for these
p. 256 – “…they damn near died.” This is
probably a quote but not cited as such, and could be better
stated as “…they nearly died.”
p. 262 – The lead sentences in the first two
paragraphs (Steve Kramerich story) are out of sequence. The
introductory line starts the second paragraph rather than the
first. Second paragraph should start with, “Kramerich could not
remember who he was,” and the descriptive clause should move to
the first paragraph’s opening line.
P; 269 – “falciparum malaria” Since you name
varieties of malaria, an explanation of the differences would be
p. 344 – “[MacArthur] … abandoned his men to
the enemy’s tender mercies.” To which “tender mercies” of the
Japanese is this referring?
Steve found the following
statements and sections particularly insightful:
p. 17 – In November, 1941, there were “nearly
31,000 troops (19,000 Americans, 12,000 Philippine Scouts)”
p. 25 – Japan had no chance to defeat the
U.S. “Japan’s only chance was to win as much as they could as
quickly as they could, then sue for peace and the status quo.”
p. 40 – The Filipinos “came into training
camps speaking a hundred regional languages and dialects, and
orders often had to be translated and retranslated three or four
times before a man could understand them.”
pgs. 64-65 – General Maeda’s plan to skip
Manila and destroy USAFFE immediately, which might well have
changed the outcome of the war. (This in addition to the fact
that Bataan and Corregidor held out as long as they did are the
keys to why Japan did not win the Pacific war, and cannot be
stressed enough in a world history discussion.)
p. 73 – General Homma loses his 48th
Division, a major blow, and the reason he had to stop the
pursuit into Bataan.
pgs. 78-79ff. – Good explanation of why the
Japanese soldiers were such brutal savages.
p. 120 – “Bataan… was among the most fertile
breeding grounds in the world for the mosquitoes that transport
the malaria parasite.”
p. 135 – Japanese father to his son – “Don’t
come back anything but dead.”
p. 154 – First surrender of “an entire army”
in U.S. history.
pgs. 188-191 – The description of the filth
at the Balanga rest site is outstanding.
pgs. 202-214 – The description of the
Pantingan massacre is outstanding, the best summary we’ve ever
pgs. 298-305 – Good description of
Canadian Inventor voyage.
p. 305 – Hellship numbers; one in five
transported by Hellship died or was killed aboard. This
accounts for a very high percentage of allied POW deaths under
the Japanese. Although we don’t remember seeing the statement
in Tears, virtually every ex-POW with whom we have spoken
has said that the Hellships were worse than the Death March.
p. 306-308 – Arisan Maru description
p. 308-317 – Oryoku, Enoura, and
Brazil Maru accounts; very well written, particularly the
description of suffocation on p. 308.
Overall, we liked the book and
will recommend it. It may not seem like it because we are so critical,
but we are very meticulous readers and writers. Many of the
descriptions are outstanding, as we indicate. Since the map and the
very first sentence of the book contain errors, however, Steve
especially started off frustrated and with a more heightened sensitivity
for misinformation. We understand that our comments on the style of the
book, particularly on the emphasis on General Homma, reflect our own
perspective. But we do ask that you make every effort to correct the
errors and questionable statements as soon as possible.
Steve & Marcia Kwiecinski
THE AUTHORS RESPOND
We have received, and
acknowledged, the emails from the Kwiecinskis. As we replied each time,
we appreciate hearing from readers. Readers should sound off, as it
were, and offer their opinions. Writers speak, readers speak back: Its a
tradition that dates back to the first days of American publishing.
Whenever readers point out what they believe to be errors of fact, we
add those comments to a file we call "corrections." (We started this
file as soon as we read the final galleys; as every writer of
non-fiction knows, there are going to be errors in the work.) When we
are given the opportunity to revise the text, we will go through our
corrections file, vet each comment, and make the necessary revisions. To
date, however, neither the hard-cover publisher -- Farrar, Straus and
Giroux -- nor the paperback publisher, Picador, has given us that
opportunity (The first Picador edition will appear March 1.). FSG ran
one printing on the heels of another; and Picador has decided to move up
the printing of the paperback to March 1 and use the original text for
their first one. Picador asked us to hold our corrections until -- if,
really -- there is a second paper-back printing. These decisions are
beyond our control.
Meanwhile, again, we appreciate readers feedback. As Mike Houlahan can
tell you (having pointed out to us some numbers he wanted us to recheck
in the first-pass galleys), we take the feedback to heart and act on it
as soon as we are able. We also happily accept the criticisms about
emphasis, balance, theme, selection of characters and so on. They are
quite proper and indicate an engaged reader, something we prize. So we
respect those opinions. We may disagree with some of them, but we've
already had our say in the book and feel it's the readers turn now to
have their say in full and unfettered. Most of the criticism we've
received has been offered in the spirit of generosity and good will. We
make it a practice to personally thank every single correspondent. Given
our volume of correspondence, however, we simply do have the time to sit
down and answer each point in each email and letter, but, as we said, we
are grateful to get those missives. It gives us the opportunity to thank
the people most important to us as writers -- our readers.
We'd again like to thank everyone for their support and interest in our
Elizabeth M. Norman
STEVE & MARCIA KWIECINSKI REPLY
We are very disappointed that the
paperback is coming out using the original, uncorrected text. We have
never been in the position of having to pass along a manuscript that
contains known errors. If we were, we would do everything in our power
to say, “Stop the presses!” Furthermore, we believe that careful
editing by the right person(s) would have resulted in a more accurate
account; i.e., the errors should not have been published in the first
place. We realize that the Normans are not subject matter experts, and
as such, the errors, although their responsibility, are not entirely
The Normans acknowledged our
emails graciously, and we want them to know that the remarks we sent
were made in order to improve the book, and with the best of
intentions. As we noted to them, we wish that we had had a chance to
give input before publication. We may have had no influence on the
book’s occasional use of questionable vocabulary and the equal treatment
given Ben Steele and General Homma; that is the authors’ prerogative.
However, we believe that the Normans would have made every effort to
correct the factual errors and contradictions that we noted.
Following are excerpts from some
emails we have received. Note that the first two are from former POWs
of the Japanese. The first was on the same Hellship as Ben Steele (and
Steve’s father), the second is a past commander of the ADBC (American
Defenders of Bataan and Corregidor).
"I just read your comments
on Tears in the Darkness. I have not, or do I intend to, read the
book! I lived it, except for the death march. I was on that ship,
the Canadian Inventor, and it did take us exactly 62 days from
Manila to Moji, but my group had started from the Davao Penal
Colony, DaPeCol, on 3 June, so our trip took 92 days! Most of it on
board a ship, except for a couple of days at Cebu, and about a week
at Bilibid - all of it outdoors, or in the hold of a ship. I lost
over 45 lbs in those 92 days! As you will see in my book, I did
NOT bathe, wash my hands or my mess kit, brush my teeth, shave or
change my clothes for that entire time! Water was used only for
drinking, there was none to waste on cleanliness."
This is a very good review
of the above-named book. I have not read the book and do not intend
to read it. Most of us do not want to recall the distasteful
events of the defense of the Philippines and horrible mistreatment
we received after the surrender. I did not make the Death March,
however, I have spoken with many my friends who have. I probably
would not be here if I had been on the march. I was on Bataan from
December 24 to the 29th and then transferred by the S.S Mayon to
Mindanao. Another distasteful event---I suffered through
the bombing of Clark Field on December 8, 1941 and then assigned
infantry duties on Mindanao. Was a POW for three years and four
months at Tokyo Area POW camp #2 where I worked at several different
Japanese industries as a slave laborer. Enjoyed your review.
The following two responses
were the only one we received from people who have read the book. The
first is from the man who gave it to us, the second from someone who is
very familiar with the treatment of POWs by the Japanese.
That was a very thorough and
enlightening review of the book 'The Tears..." which made me realize
how much had escaped my eyes when I read the book and the many
things I actually didn't know about the events written in it. It
takes two analytic and well-informed minds to see the inaccuracies.
I'm familiar with at least
90% of all their "references" and the typical crap such professors
produce... the more "citations", the more prestige they have amongst
their peers. God spare me from having to wade through such academic
sewage. The reviews presented in the NY Times, etc., all appear to
have been written by the friendly suck-up class of slobbering fools
who wish to believe in global warming and that the "masses" need to
be instructed on what to believe.
And now some of the other
responses, which run the gamut, so to speak:
What with your
perspicacious eyes, you have rendered excellent service with your
review of "Tears of Darkness". I am flabbergasted at the errors… I
shall print out your review in order to keep it in the pages of
"Tears of Darkness" (if and when someone sends me the book!)
That was a terrific book
review. I enjoyed reading it. You tell it like it is and pull no
punches. Most of all, you say what you like and what you don't. Now
I must get the book -- it does look interesting.
What A great review!
for me, I think I'll stay away from this book as I'm sure [the
treatment of Homm] would make me puke!
for the review. As a history geek myself, anything new is looked at
with awe. It is very disappointing when factual errors are made,
especially when they are numerous. The grammar and "big words" can
be overlooked by a bumpkin like me, but facts,,,,,,,,? With the so
many participants fading to history, the facts are the only things
that keep the memory alive. In other words, the truth is easier to
dilute, then deny altogether. Don't feel bad about giving it an
average review if it turns the truth. Thanks for the great work and
hope that you two have a great holiday season.
on a most thorough and scholarly review of "Tears in the Darkness
agree 100% on the necessity of historical accuracy (albeit
"qualified" where required), when documenting the events of the Fall
of Bataan and Corregidor. This is of particular importance when any
book claiming to tell the story becomes a "Best Seller", thus
potentially helping to establish the public perception of "accepted"
have not read the book. I have great differences with the Normans
myself. I find them very tony. Very self assured that they are the
only ones who can write on the subject they choose. Their arrogance
I hope they give the works
to Homma. He was horrible. At one point he was living grandly very
near the camps and he KNEW what was going on there. Clothing and
supplies were given him (by US nurses) to help out the POWs at the
camp but these were never delivered.
And, yes, the #1 war criminal in the Pacific was the Emperor
himself. He even had his own personal spies in the battle zones, so
he also knew everything that was going on, not to mention that a
member of his own family was behind the infamous Medical Unit 731.
And it was his own personal OK that executed a couple of the
Thank you for sharing this
interesting review. Your attention to the detail is truly
impressive. We will definitely buy the book and look at some of the
I was rather shocked to
read your comments about the book and all its inaccuracies and
errors, especially as you say, by two authors who are supposed to be
so renown. It gave me some ideas for my own upcoming book and also
supported some of the things I am trying to do and not to do with
mine. Fancy big words and obscure references do not belong in a book
like this in my opinion either. I have been writing for over 30
years and my style tends to be more simple and easy to read without
using such words or terms that people need a dictionary or thesaurus
to understand. Also, the other technical and factual mistakes are
quite inexcusable, in my opinion as well, especially by such
so-called "professional" writers and their editors.
Thanks for the thorough
analysis. I just received this book for Christmas but will tuck your
notes inside the cover for reference. It's always tough to know if
I'm reading the truth. So much sloppy writing out there on the POW
experience makes it tough to glean the facts from the rest. My loose
grasp of the facts is inadequate and the perspectives you share are
you for those excellent review notes. It's not likely that I'll buy
that book, but if I do, or if I learn of someone that I know having
bought the book, I'll keep your notes so that they can be used as an
as if I have already read the book.. that makes me want to grab a
The Normans spent weeks being squired and hosted by the Homma family
on their island in Japan, hence the reprehensible polishing of
Homma's tarnished war atrocities and history. I have mixed feelings
and emotions on this. However, I agree whole heartedly with your
review. I am so glad you posted this for all to read and ponder.
In an interview with a Death
March survivor, I mentioned to the survivor that Homma claimed that
he did not notice anything unusual when he drove by and saw the men
marching on the East Road, as Homma stated on the witness stand.
The survivor laughed out loud and told me, "That is impossible. We
were quite a spectacle on that road."
Hommas are a very wealthy clan. We know they have been active in
trying to vindicate Homma and lobby Washington in an attempt to get
a US President to either pardon Homma or overturn his guilty
verdict. I can not prove anything, but I do have my suspicions.
The final two letters
contain serious accusations, the penultimate being written by a civilian
internee at Sto. Tomas University, and the final one being written by
the son of a Death March survivor. If true, they may indicate that the
book in fact was not so much a tribute to Ben Steele and the other POWs
as an attempt to put Homma in the best light. This also explains why
the Homma trial, which, in our opinion, merits at most a page or two in
a book about the Death March, makes up more than 10% of the book.
The Norman’s make clear that
General Homma’s trial was rushed and he was given limited defense. But
no matter what the circumstances of the trail, General Homma was
responsible for his men’s actions. During the Death March, between
5-12,000 soldiers were needlessly murdered. He was accountable for the
initial treatment of the POWs at Camp O’Donnell, where as many as 300
Filipino and American prisoners were dying each day. We feel that any
attempt to make Homma look good, or to ultimately exonerate him, is
nauseating. He was a war criminal who got his just desserts.