MY FARAWAY HOME: An American Family's WWII Tale of Adventure and Survival in the Jungles of the Philippines

Mary McKay Maynard, Author . Lyons $22.95 (275p) ISBN 978-1-58574-261-5

Eight-year-old Mary McKay's father managed a gold mine on the Philippine island of Mindanao when the war in the Pacific erupted in December 1941. When the Japanese invaded the Philippines, the McKays quickly gathered what supplies they could and fled into the jungle. They believed that their stay would be brief; General MacArthur himself had reassured Mary's father that the war would be over in a month. The days turned into weeks and the months into two harrowing years, lived in close confinement, with increasing privations as the (often worm-infested) food supply fell and their group swelled with more refugees. Eight months after Pearl Harbor, some chose to surrender to the Japanese and be interned in prison camps, but the McKays moved farther into the jungle, where they were plagued by disease and shortages of essential items. Eventually, a submarine arrived to evacuate American civilians, taking them through torpedo-laden seas to Australia. After the war, in 1947, they went back to the Philippines, where, ironically, more tragedy was waiting. McKay, whose recollections are bolstered by excerpts from her mother's journal, makes the details of life in the refugee camp immediate, from the heat and smells to fears that the Filipino or German nationals in their camp might betray them. With the glut of male-centered WWII chronicles this season, these recollections provide a welcome perspective on a far-flung corner of the war. 16 pages of photos not seen by PW. (July)

Reviewed on: 06/25/2001
Release date: 07/01/2001
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