• Belly of the Beast

  • A POW's Inspiring True Story of Faith, Courage, and Survival aboard the Infamous WWII Japanese Hell Ship Oryoku Maru
  • By: Judith Pearson
  • Narrated by: Dena Pacitti
  • Length: 8 hrs and 18 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (24 ratings)

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Belly of the Beast  By  cover art

Belly of the Beast

By: Judith Pearson
Narrated by: Dena Pacitti
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Publisher's summary

On December 13, 1944, POW Estel Myers was herded aboard the Japanese prison ship, the Oryoku Maru, with more than 1,600 other American captives. More than 1,100 of them would be dead by journey's end...

The son of a Kentucky sharecropper and an enlistee in the Navy's medical corps, Myers arrived in Manilla shortly before the bombings of Pearl Harbor and the other six targets of the Imperial Japanese military. While he and his fellow corpsmen tended to the bloody tide of soldiers pouring into their once peaceful Naval hospital, the Japanese overwhelmed the Pacific islands, capturing 78,000 POWs by April 1942. Myers was one of the first captured.

After a brutal three-year encampment, Myers and his fellow POWs were forced onto an enemy hell ship bound for Japan. Suffocation, malnutrition, disease, dehydration, infestation, madness, and simple despair claimed the lives of nearly three quarters of those who boarded "the beast".

Myers survived.

A compelling account of a rarely recorded event in military history, this is more than Estel Myers' true story - this is an homage to the unfailing courage of men at war, an inspiring chronicle of self-sacrifice and endurance, and a tribute to the power of faith, the strength of the soul, and the triumph of the human spirit.

©2001 Judith Pearson (P)2014 Audible Inc.
  • Unabridged Audiobook
  • Categories: History

What listeners say about Belly of the Beast

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  • Overall
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    2 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    3 out of 5 stars

The narration style ruined it for me.<br /><br /><br />

The silly voice styles used for the characters just turned me off this book. The story itself was harrowing,but the overall style of slipping in and out of the actual story and the historical events happening at the time was a strange way to knit it all together. Interesting story ruined by the narration.

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    5 out of 5 stars

a truly great story

the story is beyond amazing and heroic. the only con: the narrator's attempt to mimic the soldiers accents is horrible and , at times, takes emotion out of the inspirational story.

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2 people found this helpful

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Good not great.

This book definitely has it's positives. And the story itself is a good one. However I felt like it was more of a general WWII American POW story than anything with some filler to make it seem longer than it needed to be.

I also felt like Dena Pacitti's voice did not do a great job of portraying anger, fear, etc. but +1 for clarity. Would recommend this book but would recommend others first.

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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    1 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Narration Is Horrible

The telling of this man’s story, which needs to be told, was ruined by the narrator. Nothing in the story revealed where the POWS , except main character, were from, but the narrator’s contrived accent made them sound like they were all from rural South and uneducated.

The narrator CANNOT imitate a male voice and whoever reviewed the performance before release or selected her needs to look for another line of work.

As for the content of the story, a previous reviewer remarked that in addition to the POW’s story there is ongoing war and unrelated personally to the subject, Myers’s war, which is accurate. The author could have done a better job of weaving that information into the POW’s story. I have learned much about battles and the progression of the War via personal narratives whose main theme is the subject’s personal experience and not a discussion of the War.

Japan as a Nation, committed War Crimes. Every Nation has individual soldiers that commit war crimes, a significant difference. Due to political reasons related to the beginning of the Cold War with Russia, the Japanese were never held accountable for their crimes. Allied victims of their barbaric brutality have never been allowed to be compensated by Japan.

Examples of people driven mad by the conditions they were subjected to by their sadistic captors is at Ravensbrück, Germany’s concentration camp for women.

The media’s focus on the devastation caused by the atomic bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki along with political leaders apologizing for the destruction are failing to tell the complete story. Okinawa, Iwo Jima, Tarawa, and Peleliu are just of few of the barbaric battles that resulted in the horrific deaths of not only Allied soldiers and civilians, but Japanese and Axis soldiers as well, often by their own hand. Nor do they relate the story of the Allied civilians, including newborns, held in concentration camps where the conditions and death rate matched that of the Warsaw Ghetto.

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Great book, but a bit bipolar

If you could sum up Belly of the Beast in three words, what would they be?

Intense, disturbing, boring

What was one of the most memorable moments of Belly of the Beast?

The time spent on the ship

What about Dena Pacitti’s performance did you like?

overall good

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

no

Any additional comments?

The book is a bit bipolar in that in the middle of the story, the narrator goes off about general information about the war in the pacific. It makes me, as the reader, loose connection with the protagonist as it feels abstract. If the protagonist introduced the information that would be different. I would say the book is 50/50, 50% about the protagonists life and 50% general information.

If this book was broken up into two sections, one about the war, and another about the narrative, that would be great. Yet, as it stands, it is a bit difficult to stay invested in the character when the book keeps switching from historical to biographical.

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