Summary: The book Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides illustrates one of the first operations of the U.S Army Rangers during World War II on a rescue mission in the Philippines to free over 500 prisoners of war from the Japanese prison camp of Cabanatuan. These were the remaining prisoners of one of the most grueling marches during the war known as the Bataan Death March. Plagued by disease, horrendous living conditions, and starvation, these prisoners were tortured by their captors, and endured numerous months of suffering as thousands died. To worsen things, due to a rogue order being sent out among the Japanese commanders of these prison camps, mass executions of prisoners were taking place. Racing against time and the Japanese forces, Colonel Mucci led his 121 Rangers on one of the greatest infiltration and rescue missions of World War II which established the American control of the islands and pushed the Japanese farther out of the Philippines.
Evaluation/Review: After the first 2 chapters of Ghost Soldiers, I was hooked. You don’t need to be into war or history to appreciate just how incredible a story this is. When compared to other books in this genre, Ghost Soldiers stands out because of the unique perspectives it presents to the readers, as Sides shifts perspectives from the soldiers to the prisoners numerous times. Hampton Sides goes into extreme detail throughout the book to really let readers experience the events that take place and uses the letters and writings of the prisoners and soldiers to depict the intricate planning that needed to occur for such a rescue to be staged. Descriptions of the awful prisons and torture left readers sympathizing with the prisoners and following the soldiers and their heroics left you cheering for the Rangers. The magnitude of these events resonated with me as I learned about the strength and courage of the human spirit. The book brought light to a very mysterious aspect of World War II and educated me on the impact prison camps, such as the one in Cabanatuan, can have on the mind and body of soldiers.
Recommendations: Lone Survivor, Steelheart, The 5th Wave, Lincoln’s Last Days