Shadows in the Jungle: The Alamo Scouts Behind Japanese Lines in World War II is yet another incredible story of All-American derring-do by the fabled "greatest generation". The Alamo Scouts completed the kind of improbable, perfectly executed reconnoitering now reserved for the Navy Seals. The difference? Like so many heroes of that time, the scouts were hardly bulked up, ultra-elite supermen - they were a somewhat ragtag group of volunteers who would go on to live ordinary lives as workaday American family men. Narrator Norman Dietz brings a sepia-toned warmth to this story of American heroism.
Throughout the years 1944 and 1945, the Scouts performed a wide array of special operations, many of them classified for decades after the war. More than just a recon and intelligence outfit, the Scouts also conducted rescue missions to recover captured military and civilian prisoners from Japanese camps, organized and supplied guerrilla freedom fighters, and provided protection for General MacArthur himself. They completed at least 107 known missions against superior numbers of enemy troops, but not a single Scout was killed or captured.
Writing with the narrative power usually found in a novel, Larry Alexander takes listeners in the footsteps of the men who made up the elite reconnaissance unit that served as General MacArthur's eyes and ears in the Pacific War. Drawing from personal interviews and testimonies from Scout veterans, Alexander weaves together the tales of the individual Scouts, who often spent weeks behind enemy lines to complete their missions. Now, more than 60 years after the war, the story of the Alamo Scouts has finally been told.
©2008 Larry Alexander; (P)2009 Tantor
"One of those rare works of nonfiction that does indeed read like a novel and also sheds light on a heroic and almost unknown group of men." (Michael Korda)
Larry Alexander does a great job taking the reader into the jungle along with these Alamo Scouts. The stories are vivid and many of the accounts are riveting page turners. The narration by Norman Dietz is very solid and adds to the enjoyability of this book. Where the book goes wrong is that it takes the shape of a public relations effort. Everyone is heroic and everyone is mentioned. Many of the accounts, especially early in the book, could have been ommitted but the author appears to want to make sure to include everyone no matter how inconsequential. With some editing this would have been a great book, but it is still very good reading.
I found this to be an interesting book. You could say this is where the Seals, Recon Teams and other units got their start. I would recomend this book to others.
Although the legendary Alamo Scouts didn't suffer a single combat-related fatality as they slogged through the unforgiving and inhospitable islands of the South Pacific, time is now doing what the Japanese army and the dangers of the jungle were unable to do, and the few Alamo Scouts remaining are old men. It's fitting then, that in the twilight of their years (much of the information about the Scouts wasn't declassified until the late 1980s), these brave men are finally getting some of the recognition they deserve.
This is a great story about ordinary men who push themselves to do great things. It is a story about valor, comradeship, and the single-minded determinedness to see a daunting task through to its end.
The author does a good job of showing the important role that Filipinos played in helping to liberate the South Pacific.
Shadows in the Jungle is a great book recounting the experiences of the Alamo Scouts. Told in good detail and narrated greatly.
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