The rescue : a true story of courage and survival in World War II /

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Main Author: Smith, Steven Trent, 1947-
Format: Book
Published:New York : J. Wiley, 2001.
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Review by Publisher's Weekly Review

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. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved
Review by Kirkus Book Review

Television journalist Smith retells a rousing story of WWII resistance to the Japanese occupation of the Philippines, with emphasis on the American players. The events he chronicles took place on Negros Island, the fourth largest in the Philippines. In addition to its Filipino population, the island housed a number of American missionaries, sugar plantation managers, educators, and businessmen, most of whom retreated into the mountainous interior after the Japanese occupied the seaside towns. Smith delves into their backgrounds, explaining how they came to be in the Philippines, then describes how a good number of these men, along with escaped American POWs, joined the resistance forces carrying out hit-and-run operations against the Japanese. It didn’t take long for the occupying forces to start reprisals, with a vengeance, and the evacuation of noncombatants was undertaken at great risk to them and to the submarine crew of the USS Crevalle. In a parallel story, Japanese plans for the “Decisive Battle” of the Pacific had fallen into the hands of James Cushing, an American leader of the resistance movement on the Philippine island of Cebu, and these too had to be picked up by the submarine. Smith sets a gentle course for the early pages, providing a wealth of biographical details to give readers a stake in the story, then gets pumping when the action starts in earnest. The writing is trim and unornamented, at times resembling that of a not-so-true adventure magazine (Cushing’s “exploits were the stuff of legend”), but this works fine for the stirring events at hand. Smith closes with the Battle of the Philippines Sea, giving readers a sense of the importance of the Crevalle’s cargo. Wartime adventure draped with thrills and romance. (b&w photos)

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