Apocalypse Undone

My Survival of Japanese Imprisonment During WWII.

Preston John Hubbard. Vanderbilt University Press, 1990.

 

An idealistic survivor of the infamous Bataan Death March retraces his life during as a Japanese POW. Unlike many other “Bataan” survival stories, this one is less about heroics and warfare. Hubbard attempts to recollect and reflect on the meaning of this downtrodden episode of America’s failure while offering some poignant insights into the context of survival. If the reader can get past the graphic and brutal descriptions of his incarceration, there is a redeeming virtue to the occasional moralistic epitaphs he offers for understanding the nature of brutality and man’s inhumanity to one another.

 

It is frank in its assessment and oftentimes recycles back into the darkest moments of his own desperation. Written “near the end of his life,” Hubbard attempts to craft this from the perspective of a Professor of History. It succeeds as a work of scholarship in part, but it is also evident that it is also serves as a catharsis for his recurring nightmares.

 

This is not a book for the weak hearted, casual readership nor for young readership. I recommend it for anyone who is looking to find a more abiding sense of how war shapes or unshapes the ethical character of humankind. Certainly, it is not for adventure seekers.

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