Tuesday, October 09, 2012

Book Examines POWs during World War II

The stories of seven men and one woman from Indiana who survived the horrors of captivity under the Japanese in the Pacific during World War II are captured in vivid detail by author John Shively in his book Profiles in Survival: The Experiences of American POWs in the Philippines during World War II. These Hoosiers stationed in the Philippines were ordered to surrender following the fall of Bataan and Corregidor in 1942. It was the largest surrender of American armed forces in U.S. history. For many, it was the beginning of three years of hell starting with the infamous Bataan Death March, facing brutal conditions in POW camps in the Philippines, and horrific journeys to Japan for some onboard what came to be known as “hellships.”
Former Indiana governor Edgar D. Whitcomb, one of those featured in the book, notes that the American prisoners had to endure “unimaginable misery and brutality at the hands of sadistic Japanese guards,” as they were routinely beaten and many were executed for the most minor offenses, or for mere sport. Shively, said Whitcomb, has “done a masterful job of recounting the realities of life as a Japanese prisoner. These poignant stories attest to the innate enduring human struggle and drive to survive, tenacity in the face of adversity, and the dogged determination and unwillingness to give up when all seemed lost and hopeless.”
In addition to Whitcomb, those profiled include Irvin Alexander, Harry Brown, William Clark, James Duckworth, Eleanor Garen, Melvin McCoy, and Hugh Sims.

Shively is a practicing physician with a longtime interest in World War II. He lives in Lafayette, Indiana. He is the author of The Last Lieutenant: A Foxhole View of the Epic Battle for Iwo Jima, published by Indiana University Press in 2006.

Profiles in Survival costs $27.95 and is available from the  IHS Basile History Market, http://shop.indiananhistory.org

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