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Editorial Reviews

"This is a gripping book. Elizabeth Norman presents a war story in which the main characters never kill one of the enemy, or even shoot at him, but are nevertheless heroes. . . . First on Bataan, then moved to Corregidor, they were under almost constant shell fire, were always hungry, close to starvation, had horrendous diseases to deal with despite a shortage or even a complete lack of proper medicines, getting little or no sleep, nothing in the way of recreation--yet they were a true band of angels, inspiring all the men whom they were there to help. In a squalid prison camp, they remained giants, despite their small size. . . . They were the bravest of the brave, who endured unspeakable pain and torture. Americans today should thank God we had such women." - Stephen E. Ambrose

Publisher's Summary

We Band of Angels is the story of women searching for adventure, caught up in the drama and danger of war. On the same day the Japanese Imperial Navy launched its surprise attack on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, it also struck American bases in the Far East, chief among them the Philippines. That raid led to the first major land battle for America in World War II and, in the end, to the largest defeat and surrender of American forces. Caught up in all of this were 99 Army and Navy nurses - the first unit of American women ever sent into the middle of a battle. The "Angels of Bataan and Corregidor" - as the newspapers called them - became the only group of American women captured and imprisoned by an enemy. And the story of their trials on a bloody battlefield, their desperate flight to avoid capture and their ultimate surrender, imprisonment, liberation and homecoming is a story of endurance, professionalism and raw pluck. Along the way, they helped build and staff hospitals in the middle of a malaria-infested jungle on the peninsula of Bataan. Then, short of supplies and medicine, they worked around the clock in the operating rooms and open-air wards, dealing with gaping wounds and gangrenous limbs, ministering to the wounded, the sick, the dying. A few fell in love, only to lose their men to the enemy. Finally, on the tiny island of Corregidor in Manila Bay, the Japanese took them prisoner. For three long years in an internment camp - years marked by loneliness and starvation - they kept to their mission and stuck together. In the end, it was this loyalty, this sense of purpose, womanhood and honor, that both challenged and saved them.

Through interviews with survivors and through unpublished letters, diaries, and journals, Elizabeth M. Norman vividly re-creates that time, telling the story in richly drawn portraits and in a dramatic narrative delivered in the voices of the women who were there.

©1999 Elizabeth Norman (P)2014 Audible Inc.

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  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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A very moving tribute!

I'm 62 and retired from the Air Force. In the 70's I spent a total of 3 years at Clark AB. This book moved me to tears several times as my mind related to the past. Every year in New Mexico there is an event called The Bataan Memorial Death March. A 26 mile march that I have participated in the past 5 years. This year at mile 16, I suffered a heart attack. My life was saved by 6 Army nurses who were a few steps behind me. As my eyes well up, I cannot help but think of the correlation between my angels and the Angels of Bataan..

17 of 18 people found this review helpful

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  • Andree
  • United States
  • 11-09-14

A fascinating untold story

Would you recommend this audiobook to a friend? If so, why?

I have read this book several times and would recommend it for all Americans! It is a must read/listen. You don't have to be interested in World War II to savor this book. This is an amazing tale of nurses who thought they were traveling to paradise and ended up in a horrific war zone,and eventually, as prisoners of the Japanese in the Philippines.

What was one of the most memorable moments of We Band of Angels?

The stories of the nurses surviving as prisoners of war when they were completely unprepared to be in a combat zone are so inspiring.

Any additional comments?

This book is so interesting and reveals so much about the "angels" who are the heroines of this story.

7 of 8 people found this review helpful

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  • DenGig
  • Matthews, NC United States
  • 07-05-18

Women at war

Seldom told stories of Army & Navy nurses in the Phillipines shows the true character of courage. Well researced and told

2 of 2 people found this review helpful

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Very Inspiring

If you could sum up We Band of Angels in three words, what would they be?

One of the most inspiring stories I have ever had the pleasure to hear. These nurses showed incredible ingenuity, perseverance, and courage along with hard and difficult work to save others before themselves.

What other book might you compare We Band of Angels to and why?

I would compare this story to Band of Brothers on steroids but this story was about women and many, many more of them.

Have you listened to any of Dina Pearlman’s other performances before? How does this one compare?

I had not listened to her before. I thought she had the perfect voice for this story. Thank you Dina for a great read on a great story. Thank you Elizabeth for a great story.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

Many moments moved me. The whole book was great.

Any additional comments?

I am giving this book to my daughters and nieces to read for inspiration.
They may face different challenges but the spirit and lessons are the same.

4 of 5 people found this review helpful

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wow!!! thanks you!

a wonderful book !
this should be Tom Hanks and Steven Spielberg's next hob series!!!

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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Wonderful history

I loved this book. It told the forgotten history of the nurses of Bataan. We really forget that their were women POW's in WWII. I loved the first hand accounts of the nurses time in captivity. It was well written and performed. AUDIBLE 20 REVIEW SWEEPSTAKES ENTRY

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Randall
  • Richton, Mississippi
  • 07-18-16

Honor to these Angels

I have so enjoyed listening to this account of the heroism these women exhibited in the early days of WWII. May they forever rest in the peace they so richly deserve. May God bless and keep them.

3 of 4 people found this review helpful

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    2 out of 5 stars
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very poor narrator

What disappointed you about We Band of Angels?

The narrator consistanly mispronounced words. It wasn't one or two unusual words but consistant words she either should have known or researched.

What was most disappointing about Elizabeth M. Norman’s story?

She repeated a story of an event, with different facts. Also, some of her other facts were questionable.

Would you be willing to try another one of Dina Pearlman’s performances?

NEVER

Any additional comments?

This was a very disappointing story about an extremely important period in American history.

6 of 9 people found this review helpful

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Overlooked and Forgotten Veterans

I started this on Veterans Day and it was a perfect choice. This nonfiction book tells the story of the Army and Navy nurses who were in the Philippines when the Japanese attached in WWII. They were in the theatre of battle. When the Americans surrendered, more than half of them ended up in prison camps for the remainder of the war where they continued to practice their profession and demonstrate heroism. While used by the government to encourage more enlistments and to sell war bonds, they received little lasting recognition. They fought for medical benefits to address medical issues brought on from starvation, beri beri, and other diseases and disorders resulting from their experience. When their female commanders were nominated for medals by the doctors and officers they worked with, including MacArthur, they were given less prestigious ones. Like their male counterparts, they did not talk much about their war experience. Many times their children had no idea what they had done. Great book. #Tearjerker, #Inspiring, #WorldWarII, #Tagsgiving, #Sweepstakes

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Superbly lived, written, and told !

I am slightly amazed that there are no reviews on this title yet. It is certainly worthy of note.
Perhaps it is as yet unreviewed because unfortunately, many of the people that might be interested are now gone, leaving only historians, those who would be historians, medical historians, and WW2 buffs to absorb this wonderful narrative of valiant women caught up where they normally would not be: in an active battle - an important battle - of the Second World War.
For obvious reasons, after all, he was THE general involved, Douglas MacArthur, reaps many words of either praise or vilification, depending on the angle of the writer. In this story he is still the important commander, but one who leaves almost a hundred military nurses behind when he and his command staff evacuate ( cannot say ‘retreat’ can I?) from the Bataan/Corregidor area for the safer shores of Australia. He promised to come back, and there are many pictures of the staged return, posed for maximum impact, in the press of the day.
The nurses who were left continued to do what nurses do: they cared for their patients. And they kept on caring for their patients as they were trundled from place to place: from hospitals to a tunnel ( a LARGE one), from jungle clearings to prison camp, and even in the prison camp, they were moved from building to building, patients as well as nurses.
By the end of the story, nurses were still caring for their patients, and for some of their fellows. Many were suffering from the same vitamin and protein deficiencies as their patients. Some would never be able to return to the health they had enjoyed before the ordeal .
This book was wonderful! I was born just prior to VJ Day, so can relate personally to some of the dates mentioned.
One note about the narrator: PLEASE, someone tell this person how to pronounce exigencies! The word is used multiple times, and she never got it right!
Last note: This book takes place at the same time as the infamous Bataan Death March: many of the nurses had been stationed in the same areas as the GI’s who were then captured and forced on that infamous deathly walk.
Well worth the listen!