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
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.