Regular price: $29.99

Free with 30-day trial
Membership details Membership details
  • A 30-day trial plus your first audiobook, free
  • 1 credit/month after trial – good for any book, any price
  • Easy exchanges – swap any book you don’t love
  • Keep your audiobooks, even if you cancel
  • After your trial, Audible is just $14.95/month
OR
In Cart

Editorial Reviews

On April 9, 1942, more than 76,000 American and Filipino soldiers on the island of Batan surrendered to the Japanese, who set them walking 66 miles to prison camp, a notorious walk that came to be known as "The Bataan Death March". Their surrender meant defeat in the first major land battle for America in World War II. Tears in the Darkness, the result of 10 years' research and interviews, weaves a strikingly vivid tapestry of voices from all sides to bring this crucial episode to life. Its central narrative traces new Army Air Corp recruit Ben Steele from his cowboy upbringing in Montana to his shattering experience as a prisoner of war. From this quintessential American tale, other individual stories — including those of Filipinos and the Japanese — hang together, fleshing out the narrative and providing a remarkably rounded account. This balance is an important part of the book; although there are many detailed descriptions of the inhuman acts committed against prisoners, the authors treat the Japanese with sympathy and respect.

Michael Pritchard's delivery encompasses the campfire setting of Steele's Montana youth equally as well as the General Masaharu Homma's addresses to his Japanese troops, or the harrowing descriptions of the execution of surrendered captives. Pritchard's audiobook credits include titles by Zane Grey, Tom Clancy, and numerous works on American history, and it's not hard to see why: his dust-dry voice has a no-nonsense authority, an unforced sturdiness that honors the book's military milieu without ever being starchy or dull.

Tears in the Darkness stands apart from many military histories through the pungency of its writing: the steaming jungle, agonising thirsts, and overwhelming desperation are conveyed with a color that is more common to novels than history texts. However, the main achievement of the book is the cohesion of its myriad fragments: we get an appraisal of US military strategy in the Southwest Pacific, Filipino children running through Japanese soldiers' legs to get banana-leaves and handfuls of rice to their starving fathers, one survivor's agonisingly slow crawl to safety from under the corpses of executed captives. And throughout, the book's hold never flags, due as much to Pritchard's powerful yet restrained narration as to the sense of unflinching truth. —Dafydd Phillips

Publisher's Summary

For the first four months of 1942, U.S., Filipino, and Japanese soldiers fought what was America's first major land battle of World War II, the battle for the tiny Philippine peninsula of Bataan. It ended with the surrender of 76,000 Filipinos and Americans, the single largest defeat in American military history. The defeat, though, was only the beginning, as Michael and Elizabeth M. Norman make dramatically clear in this powerfully original book.

From then until the Japanese surrendered in August 1945, the prisoners of war suffered an ordeal of unparalleled cruelty and savagery: 41 months of captivity, starvation rations, dehydration, hard labor, deadly disease, and torture---far from the machinations of General Douglas MacArthur. The Normans bring to the story remarkable feats of reportage and literary empathy.

Their protagonist, Ben Steele, is a figure out of Hemingway: a young cowboy turned sketch artist from Montana who joined the army to see the world. Juxtaposed against Steele's story and the sobering tale of the Death March and its aftermath is the story of a number of Japanese soldiers. The result is an altogether new and original World War II book: it exposes the myths of military heroism as shallow and inadequate; and it makes clear, with great literary and human power, that war causes suffering for people on all sides.

©2009 Michael and Elizabeth Norman; (P)2009 Tantor

What members say

Average Customer Ratings

Overall

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    561
  • 4 Stars
    328
  • 3 Stars
    142
  • 2 Stars
    40
  • 1 Stars
    19

Performance

  • 4.3 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    368
  • 4 Stars
    185
  • 3 Stars
    75
  • 2 Stars
    23
  • 1 Stars
    12

Story

  • 4.5 out of 5.0
  • 5 Stars
    417
  • 4 Stars
    151
  • 3 Stars
    63
  • 2 Stars
    20
  • 1 Stars
    6
Sort by:
  • Overall
  • Cindy
  • Green Valley, AZ, United States
  • 04-20-10

Gripping, intense, and historical must read!

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.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Fantastic Book!

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.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Heartbreaking

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.

6 of 9 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Kim
  • Spokane, WA, United States
  • 03-23-12

Very Educational - but dry

If you are a war buff or enjoy historical accounts of the various aspects of war from politics to military strategy to geographical data - then this book is for you. Although interesting and informative overall, I found the narration to be too flat and robotic to keep my interest. I tried to finish it but ended up skipping the end when my new credits showed up in my account.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Saman
  • Houston, TX, United States
  • 12-10-11

Tragic story!

In so many ways, this is a tragic story. It is almost unbearable to listen to the suffering of the POW’s as they march on and on towards a goal that is hidden from them by the tormentors. Yet, the tormentors themselves are tormented by their training, impossible battle objectives and harsh beliefs. We can only imagine the sacrifice of the ‘Great Generation’ but they gave us freedom from evil. This is a well narrated story of unimaginable strength to survive which is told without bias. Highly recommended for the history lover.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Melodie
  • Greensboro, NC, United States
  • 01-11-10

I had no idea

I had always heard of the Bataan Death March but knew none of the details. I am not normally a war type reader, but this was a very wonderful blending of individual stories of the courage and stamina and in some cases, sheer luck these individuals faced. You hear that war is "brutal" and this book brought this to life graphically, but not gratuitously. What these soldiers faced was beyond the limits of human endurance, and yet they prevailed. There is a reason why these folks are part of the "greatest generation". I agree with another reviewer that said this should be required reading before anyone enters a war. I was moved, horrified, informed and enlightened for reading this book.I had no idea of the horrific nature of what the Bataan Death March required and inflicted and what these soldiers continued to face afterwards. I highly recommend the book (and I am a female reader). The only reason that I did not give it a five star rating was the narrator. I felt as if at times I was listening to a 1940's radio announcer. His voice really grated on me. However, the story was so compelling and well done that I was able to stick with it. Thank you to Michael and Elizabeth Norman for an amazing book.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall

Harrowing

Tears in the Darkness is one of those rare combinations of a great book narrated by the perfect voice. There are moments in this brief history that will touch you deeply, often in a rather horrific way. I would liken the reading (or listening) of this book to nothing less than bearing witness to man's inhumanity to man, where virtually no detail is left unobserved. But there are also moments of quiet introspection on the part of the those who experienced these events. The Normans have written an exceptional piece of history and Michael Prichard breathes life into it equally as well. Easily one of the best - and worthy - audio books I've had the pleasure to listen to. Highly recommended.

2 of 3 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story
  • Paula
  • Overland Park, KS USA
  • 05-11-13

Detailed Accounting of a Grim Story

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.

3 of 5 people found this review helpful

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

It is like being there with all the questions

it brought a tradgic American/Philipino event alive and understandable. as the first major American battle if WW2 a must in understanding our failings as well as triumphs.

  • Overall
  • Performance
  • Story

Bataan Death March is a must read about humanity

The most riveting and graphic book I have ever read. All H.S. students should read to understand how horrible is war and how we should never treat each other. Also to learn how our indoctrination, usually how we are raised and how cultures can get it wrong.