Rescued by Mao: World War II, Wake Island, and My Remarkable Escape to Freedom Across Mainland China

William Taylor, Author
William Taylor, Author . Silverleaf $24.95 (303p) ISBN 978-1-933317-87-8
Reviewed on: 04/02/2007
Release date: 05/01/2007
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Taylor's vivid recollection of nearly four years as a Japanese prisoner during WWII would have benefited from a tactful editor, but still remains riveting. An octogenarian and the former mayor of North Las Vegas, Taylor shipped out to Wake Island, 2,000 miles west of Oahu, Hawaii, as a civilian construction worker in 1941. He and more than a thousand other civilians assumed that the U.S. would evacuate them after Pearl Harbor, but the Japanese proved them wrong upon conquering the island two weeks later. Taylor's ordeal began with a stroke of luck: the Japanese transported him and most of his colleagues to a POW camp in China, later killing those remaining on Wake. There followed more than three years of starvation, disease, beatings and hard labor until, in May 1945, Taylor escaped and lucked out again when he ran into Mao Zedong's Communist forces, who guided him to safety. Taylor is best describing day-to-day events, rather than when he pauses to explain his religious views or Japanese culture. He credits his survival to God, but his gripping account makes it clear that he possessed both a tenacious will and entrepreneurial talent. (June)

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