Academic journal article Military Review

Inside the Bataan Death March: Defeat, Travail and Memory

Academic journal article Military Review

Inside the Bataan Death March: Defeat, Travail and Memory

Article excerpt

INSIDE THE BATAAN DEATH MARCH: Defeat, Travail and Memory

Kevin C. Murphy, McFarland & Company, Jefferson, North Carolina, 2014, 328 pages

The surrender of the combined U.S. and Philippine forces following the Battle of Bataan in the Philippines in April 1942 represents the greatest defeat of a U.S. Army. The Bataan Death March, the forcible transfer of sixty to eighty thousand Allied prisoners by the Imperial Japanese army over a distance of more than sixty miles from Bataan to Camp O'Donnell, is viewed by some as the greatest war crime ever perpetuated against American combatants in war. The Bataan Death March marked only the beginning of the great sorrow and travail experienced by thousands of American service members in captivity, aboard hell ships, and in Japanese forced-labor camps. Kevin Murphy, the chair of the Department of Humanities at the University of the Sciences in Philadelphia, provides one of the more comprehensive looks at the Bataan Death March in decades.

Previous research focused primarily on survivor accounts of alleged Japanese barbarity and war crimes against Allied prisoners of war--both during the march and during the prisoners' subsequent incarceration in the Philippines, China, and Japan. Murphy breaks that mold in his consideration of three aspects of the march. The author considers the impact of the overwhelming Japanese army victory over the combined U.S. and Philippine forces and the effect it had on the Allied prisoners. He describes the different dimensions of suffering the Death March survivors experienced while in confinement as well as after the war. Finally, he challenges the recollections of prisoner eyewitness accounts of the alleged Japanese barbarity. …

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