This is how history is supposed to be written, and narrated. Michael and Elizabeth Norman present a powerful work stitching together the overall story of horrific events with the common thread of a central soldier, Bud Steele, and a few other American and Japanese who appear throughout the captivating pages. Michael Pritchard delivers a brilliant interpretation of the text with a voice that is sensitive at all times to the mood of the moment - soft when necessary, urgent when called for, and always entertaining. The authors go deep into the psyche of the ordinary Japanese soldiers and their campaign commander to help the reader understand how the horrible events that took place were part of a chain of seeming inevitability. This work is an admirable marriage of comprehensive research, skillful writing and a narration of artistry. If there is a fault it is in leaving the fate of some of the people mentioned in the text hanging in historical mystery. Even so, this is a fantastic read and will probably rank among your favorites.
Ancient Civil Engineer and Land Surveyor
Nothing prepares you for the hell that encompasses the men you encounter in this book. Ben Steel endures horrific and dehumanizing treatment at the hands of his captors and yet... and yet, he emerges scarred, but triumphant as a human being. Finding within himself the courage to face his own shortcomings and to forgive two nations, the one that betrayed him and the one that criminally abused him. March with these men and weep at their plight. Emerge a different person. I applaud the Norman's for shining a fresh light into these dark places and to Michael Pritchard for lending a human voice to this most tragic recounting of the Bataan Death March and its aftermath.
Online Grad Student, I prefer audiobooks to bound books. Preferences: history, disasters, Preston/Child, Lee Child
This book should be required for any graduate level class on the Japanese Theater of Operations in the Phillipines, beginning with McArthur's "I shall return," to the surrender of Gen. Wainwright's division, the Bataan Death March, prision hospitals and punishment, and the subsequent war crimes trial of Japanese leader Homma. Long, but comprehensive. Great for lovers of military, legal, and political history. Well narrated by Michael Prichard.
I disagree completely with the reviewer who defined this as a man's book (in fact, it was just a little offensive). You will need to be interested in military history, historical documentary, etc.--but you don't need to be a man to hold those interests. I will, however, issue a couple of caveats (without defining it as a male/female issue), At times, the detail on military strategy can be numbing. (I "read" during a long commute, and found my mind wandering at times in the first several hours). It will matter farther on in the book, so try to keep focused. Second, some of the descriptions of the brutal treatment of the POWs is extremely graphic and difficult to hear. I'm female (but not weak stomached or hearted), and yet I found myself close to sobbing at times. The depravity and inhumanity that war can create (particularly this one, where the broad differences in culture led the Japanese to see their captives as subhuman and not having any value) subjected Americans AND Filipinos (whose casualties were much higher than the Americans) to horrific abuses. It's tough to listen to.
I thoroughly enjoyed listening to this book. I just had to look up the main character on google after listening this. It is a remarkable true story of bravery
I find it difficult to use the word "enjoyed" when I speak of this book because it is a narration of the tragic events and treatment of the US POWs in Bataan and Japan. However, I feel enriched by learning of the things these men and women endured or died trying to endure. This is the type of book that anyone wanting to know what American spirit is all about should read and learn from. I think the tone of the narration of this book lends it the gravity that it deserves.
The thing that struck me most was that the Holocaust in Germany is common knowledge and the Bataan Death March is not. The atrocities committed against our own servicemen is an incredible and extremely moving story of survival.
At first I thought the book too graphic, but I now realize that nothing I knew before could have prepared me for the unbearable agonies and deaths that these men endured, nor for the inhumanity of war.
I was on the edge of my seat the entire book and by the time I got near the end, I wanted to drop the bomb on Hiroshima myself!
One comment though...the author's personal portrayal of General MacArthur is less favorable than historical accounts that I'm familiar with.
An incredible story and a must read for history buffs or anyone who loves a gripping read.
This is a well written book from beginning to end. Michael Prichard's narration puts you in the march and in the prison camps. Money well spent.
Ardent Audible listener with a long commute!
"Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath" (2009) invites comparison to Laura Hillenbrand's much more well known "Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption" (2010). "Unbroken" is the story of former Olympian Louis Zamperini, who was taken prisoner of war by the Japanese following 47 days lost at sea, and held as a prisoner of war for three years. "Tears" is largely the story of Ben Steele, taken prisoner of war after the Philippines were surrendered in early 1942, and held until the end of the war.
"Tears" focuses on cowboy-turned-soldier Steele, who volunteered for the Army Air Corps rather than be drafted. Steele was sent to the Philippines, under the overall command of General Douglas MacArthur. MacArthur had a distinguished career, but he was at his inept, indecisive and arrogant nadir in 1941-42. The soldiers under his command still feel, even on the 21st Century, the humiliation of surrender.
Steele and his fellow soldiers - American and Filipino - were taken prisoner and force marched, mostly without food or water, 80 miles across the Bataan peninsula to a prisoner of war camp. Stragglers were bayonetted and left to rot in the jungle heat. No one is sure how many died during the march, but some estimates are more than 10,000. When they reached Camp O'Donnell, the prisoners worked as slave laborers while they were starved and beaten, and buried in unmarked mass graves when they dropped.
"Tears" also explains how the training and the structure of the Japanese military created the sadistic, sociopathic men who tormented Steele, Zamperini, and more than 100,000 other prisoners of war. There was a culture of contempt, brutality, and a complete lack of empathy that is condemned by professional military. I know - I am a US Army veteran.
If you have to choose between Michael Norman and Elizabeth Norman's "Tears" and "Unbroken" choose both. If you can't, "Tears" has an overall perspective on military strategy and tactics; but Hillenbrand's "Unbroken" is exquisitely well written.
As I write this review, Steele is 93 and Zamperini is 96. Steele is a widely respected artist and speaker, and Zamperini is a frequent speaker whose life story, "Unbroken", is being directed by Angelina Jolie. Enjoy these extraordinary men while they are with us.
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Enjoying one good listen after the next!
I chose this book based on reviews that described it as a stellar, moving story about men who survived the horrors of war. For some, perhaps it was. For me, it was less of a story about the survivors than it was a detailed accounting of both American and Japanese strategy and battles in the Pacific.
Sorry, but that isn't my cup of tea. There were brief overlays that were compelling collages from the life of the boy/man from Montana who was catapulted unto an awful circumstance, but not enough to create a story line that kept my attention.
Likely this is a great war story, just not one that I could thoroughly enjoy.