The Great Raid on Cabanatuan

Rescuing the Doomed Ghosts of Bataan and Corregidor.

William B. Breuer. John Wiley & Sons, 1994.


Written by a military historian, Breuer goes about the task of detailing the events that led to the liberation of American prisoners of war at the Cabanatuan Japanese camp in the Philippines. Specific to that task is explaining not only the POW perspective, but the perspectives of the military field operatives that attempted to salvage the honor of a dishonorable Bataan defense campaign.


The most important insights, however, that are to be gleaned by this book are not the POW experiences, but the experiences related by the underground American and Filipino operatives that were involved in helping the POW survival effort. Herein, you realize that the liberation campaign was not simply staged in isolation, but was built on a solid foundation of individuals who risked their own lives to infiltrate the death camps during the Japanese occupation.


Overall, the book is rather “dry” and factual. It sometimes succumbs to the historian’s penchant for details and does not attempt to deal with the conflicting values and emotions of those engaged in the campaign. Nonetheless, the book serves as a basic reader for examining the evolution of the POW camp liberation which, ultimately, served as a catharsis for grievous American military wrongs committed upon their own soldiers.

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