cover image THE RESCUE: A True Story of Courage and Survival in World War II

THE RESCUE: A True Story of Courage and Survival in World War II

Steven Trent Smith, Author . Wiley $24.95 (326p) ISBN 978-0-471-41291-5

A television photojournalist who has covered the Iranian hostage crisis, the hunger strikes in Northern Ireland, the shooting of Pope John Paul II, various Olympics and Charles and Diana's wedding, Smith has also won four Emmy awards for producing public service announcements. He breaks into print with a taut tale of a forgotten rescue mission in 1944. When the Philippines fell to the Japanese in May 1942, more than 40 Americans living on the island of Negros abandoned their homes and fled inland. Most were missionaries, Silliman University faculty and their family members, who endured two years of hardship as they moved from place to place in the jungles and mountains, evading Japanese patrols sent to capture them. Protected by sympathetic civilians and watched over by vigilant Filipino resistance fighters, these Americans were finally evacuated in May 1944, as the Allied offensive came closer to the islands. But the evacuation by submarine—the U.S.S. Crevalle —was only part of the drama. On the last day of March 1944, two Japanese flying boats carrying Adm. Koga Mineichi and his staff crashed in a severe storm. The admiral, in command of the Japanese fleet, had just completed top secret plans to counter the next American offensive; these plans washed up on a beach on neighboring Cebu island and quickly found their way to the American commander of the resistance. When Crevalle evacuated the civilians, the plans went along, with mixed results in influencing the Battle of the Philippine Sea in June 1944. Smith evaluates the two admirals and the resulting controversy. (May 18)

Forecast:While the subject matter here is certainly intriguing, given Smith's journalistic exploits, one wonders whether a memoir can be far behind this well-reported story. Based on firsthand accounts supplied by surviving refugees and submariners, Smith's account will engross buffs, but won't reach beyond that market.