Monday, August 17, 2009

Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath by Michael Norman and Elizabeth M. Norman

Tears in the Darkness (Farrar, Straus, and Giroux) is horrible, brave, compelling. In some ways it’s an awful book. And a brilliant one. You want to stop reading. You can’t look away.

The topic has been covered before. Of course it has. And it’s been covered well. But Tears in the Darkness is an expertly wrought passion play. One part history, one part journalistic retelling, one part literary non-fiction, Tears in the Darkness is likely the best account of the Bataan Death March of 1942 when more than 76,000 troops under American control laid down their arms.

“The single largest defeat in American military history,” the authors tell us. “The sick, starving, and bedraggled prisoners of war were rounded up by their Japanese captors and made to walk sixty-six miles to a railhead for the trip to prison camp, a baneful walk under a broiling sun that turned into one of the most notorious treks in the annals of war, the Bataan Death March.”

I’m quite confident that Tears in the Darkness will be among my selections for best non-fiction works of 2009.

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