Angels of the Underground: The American Women Who Resisted the Japanese in the Philippines in World War II

Theresa Kaminski. Oxford Univ, $27.95 (512p) ISBN 978-0-19-992824-8
In this fast-paced true story of American women caught behind enemy lines during WWII, Kaminski (Citizen of Empire), a professor of history at the University of Wisconsin–Stevens Point, describes the experiences of four women uprooted from pleasant tropical lives in the American Philippines when the Japanese Army brutally conquered and swiftly occupied the islands in 1942. Under Japanese military rule, the four women—Peggy, a nurse; Claire, a struggling entertainer; Yay, a notable newspaper correspondent; and Gladys, a sophisticated restaurateur—were isolated, and they lived with the constant threat of imprisonment, torture, and death. Backed by detailed research, Kaminski describes the various ways the women resisted, at great risk to themselves. Two were eventually caught, tortured, and imprisoned by the Japanese authorities. Kaminski also examines how the danger, lack of food, and mistreatment influenced personal relationships and caused post-traumatic stress disorder. Likely due to the availability of sources, the book primarily follows the stories of Peggy and Claire, though Kaminski notes that, given Claire’s penchant for spinning yarns, large parts of her tale may be fabricated. Still, Kaminski’s account of strong women surmounting daunting challenges sheds light on an unheralded aspect of WWII. Maps & photo insert. (Dec.)
Reviewed on: 10/05/2015
Release date: 12/01/2015
Genre: Nonfiction
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