Prisoners of the Japanese: POWs of World War II in the Pacific

Gavan Daws, Author
Gavan Daws, Author William Morrow & Company $25 (462p) ISBN 978-0-688-11812-9
Reviewed on: 10/31/1994
Release date: 11/01/1994
Daws (Shoal of Time) eloquently tells the story of 140,000 Allied military prisoners whom history has almost forgotten. He convincingly describes Japanese POW camps not as homogenizing institutions but as tribal societies of Americans, British, Australians, Dutch-and Japanese. The Japanese showed no mercy to those who fell into their hands, the author stresses: Thousands were worked to death; as many more died of disease and starvation; others were beaten to death or beheaded, often so clumsily that two or three strokes were required to finish the job. Daws combines archival research and personal interviews to describe inmates who did what they had to do to survive and afterward tried to live with their guilt. Their experiences highlight the scale of human pain inflicted by Japan. Illustrations not seen by PW. (Nov.)