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Winner, 2002 PEN Center West Literary Award for best Research Nonfiction
Recepient, Barnes & Noble 2001 Discover Great New Writers Awards for Nonfiction
On January 28, 1945, 121 hand-selected troops from the elite U.S. Army 6th Ranger Battalion slipped behind enemy lines in the Philippines in an attempt to rescue 513 American and British POWs who had spent three years in a surreally hellish camp near the city of Cabanatuan. Hampton Sides’ vivid minute-by-minute narration of the raid and his chronicle of the prisoners’ wrenching experiences explores the mystery of human behavior under extreme duress: the resilience of the prisoners, who defied the Japanese authorities even as they endured starvation, tropical diseases, and unspeakable tortures; the violent cultural clashes with Japanese guards and soldiers; the remarkable heroism of the Rangers and Filipino guerrillas; the complex motivations of the U.S. high command; and the nearly suicidal bravado of several spies, including priests and a cabaret owner, who risked their lives to help the prisoners during their long ordeal.
“Ghost Soldiers is an enthralling, deeply disturbing look at the horrors of war. It is impossible to read this book without wondering uneasily how you, the reader, would respond if forced to undergo the monstrous trials described with such immediacy by Hampton Sides. Would you be able to endure? And at what cost to your soul?”–Jon Krakauer, author of Into the Wild and Into Thin Air
“Work[s] perfectly...a skillfully modulated narrative of the atmosphere, courageousness, and human cost of the operation.”–Booklist (American Library Association)