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The Devil's Causeway: The True Story of America's First Prisoners of War in the Philippines, and the Heroic Expedition Sent to Their Rescue
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The Devil's Causeway: The True Story of America's First Prisoners of War in the Philippines, and the Heroic Expedition Sent to Their Rescue

4.06  ·  Rating Details ·  67 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
As the United States engaged in a bloody campaign to pacify its newly-won Philippines territory, a secret American mission went terribly wrong, resulting in a prisoner-of-war incident that foreshadowed World War II, Korea, and Vietnam. What happened next was an epic struggle for survival, a test of the human will to live, and ultimately, a crucible for heroes. Their captiv ...more
Hardcover, 432 pages
Published September 18th 2012 by Lyons Press (first published September 6th 2012)
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K.D. Absolutely
Aug 30, 2012 K.D. Absolutely rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: All Filipinos who want to know more about our history
Recommended to K.D. by: Matthew Westfall (the author)
For me, this book has three objectives. First, to correct what have so far been written about the life of Lieutenant James C. Gillmore whose troop was held as the first prisoners-of-war (POW's) during the turn of the century in 1899 to 1900 here in Luzon, the biggest island in the Philippines. Second, is to tell that complete tale in details. One day, the author, Matthew Westfall saw a picture (the one that is on the front cover of the book) with a caption "The Rescue of Gillmore" and he knew no ...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
Uncle Sam had just defeated Spain during the brief Spanish-American war and part of the terms of surrender was the ceding of the Philippines, a Spanish colony for 300 years, to the Americans. The Filipinos, who had been fighting Spain for independence long before the Americans came into the picture initially believed the hokum of America's announced intent of a "benevolent assimilation" for the Philippines but later realized that it was really a malevolent imperialist colonization the Washington ...more
A candid, albeit sometimes too candid, coverage of the cataclysm of events that began with the Spanish departure from the Philippines (having been bought by America from the Spanish for $20,000,000) and a Spanish Garrison holed up under siege by Filipino Revolutionists in an isolated church at Baler - a small town on the coastline of Luzon in the Baler Bay. Then it ends with an attempted rescue of those Spanish soldiers at Baler, and the resultant capture by Filipinos of some American Marines, a ...more
Sep 02, 2012 Lili rated it it was amazing
I thank the author and Goodreads giveaway for allowing me to read this. It is a stupendous book, brilliantly written and annotated, my favourite read this year.

A true story, well researched and illustrated, this is the moving account of the rescue of American Prisoners of War in the Philippines. An epic book that includes first person accounts and is a truly magnificent piece of knowledgeable writing. For the American Historian an indispensable device, recording accurate material on this period
Sep 10, 2012 Jennifer rated it it was amazing
Shelves: first-reads
The Devil's Causewa is an incredibly written glimpse into the past and the ordeal that America's first POWs went through. I knew very little of our war in the Philipines prior to this book, and it left me wondering about all those things you don't learn in your history classes.
The year was 1889, and the United States had only newly claimed the Phillipines as its territory and with the Spanish under fire, Admiral George Dewey sent the USS Yorktown both rescue the Spanish troops and to ensure th
Jojo Clemente
Nov 24, 2012 Jojo Clemente rated it it was amazing
I came upon this book completely by accident while browsing through a store. As someone into Philippine history, I feel that this book is a great contribution to the period known as the Philippine-American War.

Matthew Westfall has written an eye-opening account of a chapter in an oft-forgotten part of the history between the Philippines and the United States. While the main focus of the book is the account of the capture and rescue of the Gillmore party, the author has also provided snippets of
Sep 18, 2012 Steve rated it it was amazing
An excellent read that I couldn't put down and read in a day, Which occasionally I do if its that good!!!! This is a story I never heard of before and it was very interesting. It is set after the Spanish American War in the Philippines (Which the United States acquired after the Spanish American War). In 1899, Admiral Dewey sent the USS Yorktown to rescue Spanish soldiers being attacked by Filipino rebels. The U.S. Navy Lieutenant James C. Gillmore Jr. defied orders and was ambushed that killed ...more
Sep 02, 2012 Ryan rated it it was amazing
In 1896, the Philippine Revolution against the Spanish who occupied and governed the Philippine Islands for more than 300 years broke out. The Katipunan, a clandestine organization bent on toppling the colonial government, was discovered, and this commenced a series of bloody confrontations between Spain and the freedom fighters.

Two years later, the Empire of Spain was threatened by another interest. The Americans intervened in the Spanish government in Cuba and later defeated the Spanish armada
Sep 02, 2012 Rayah rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received this book in a First-reads giveaway.

A fascinating account of a part of American history I've known very little about: American imperialism in the Philippines, resulting from the end of the Spanish-American War. The book focuses on the failed rescue mission of Spanish prisoners, which resulted in American captives, further rescue missions, and death, disease, and heroics on all sides.

Author Westfall is scathing in his criticisms of Lt. Gillmore, whose sense of entitlement and quest f
Jul 16, 2012 Marilyn rated it it was amazing
Shelves: history
While reading this book, I couldn't believe that I was totally unfamiliar with this event. The one is a million or more odds to one that the cover photo was taken of those that were rescued is mind boggling.

Outstanding research and a well-written work are sure to be enjoyed by those that like military history. I highly recommend it for history buffs. The book is an interesting read.
Jul 13, 2013 Tom rated it liked it
When I first got this book, I thought it was going to be a story of WWII as that is where I associate prisoners being held in the Philippines to be. Then, as I first started reading it, I immediately saw that it was a book about a group of sailors who were captured by the Philippine rebels during the Spanish American War.

Considering myself to be a history buff, I realized that to my dismay, I have never read anything about this war. It was a complicated war, the Filipinos were revolting against
Jul 25, 2012 Malak rated it liked it
Shelves: english-books
The Devil's Causeway is a fascinating story about the hardship a group of american soldiers who went to the the Philippines in a mission to free Spanish soldiers, but because of one selfish decision, they became the hostages instead.
It is clear that the author, Matthew Westfell, spent a great amount of time researching his story since it is told with great details. The reader comes to know the life that every person involved left behind as they traveled to the Philippines. This made the first pa
Sep 19, 2012 Tanya rated it liked it
Shelves: history
As an amateur historian, I have a huge gap in my knowledge when it comes to the Spanish-American War and the Philippine Insurrection that followed its close. Reading this book did much to fill the gap, but I can't really recommend The Devil's Causeway. The title focuses on the catchy subject of POW's, but their rescue is wrapped up with 100 pages to go, pages that dealt mostly with the stamping out of the Philippine Insurrection. Not a problem, necessarily. My biggest complaint is Westfall's ant ...more
Jason Lewis
Dec 26, 2012 Jason Lewis rated it really liked it
Shelves: books-i-won
A well written book showcasing the whirlwind troubles and trials leading to the rescue of military prisoners of war and the punishments presented forth by those causing such a travesty out in the Philippines. Westfall creates an account following not only those directly involved in the issues at hand, but also family members who are fed bleak accounts of the status of kin during such troublesome times.
What I feel really helps the story is that he not only stops there, but also gives an account o
Ted Guglielmo
Aug 30, 2012 Ted Guglielmo rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Lovers of war history
Marvelous. I love history, especially stuff I knew nothing about. This a a tale that should be told and remembered. A group of sailors taken captive and marched miles into the mountains of the Philippines mostly barefoot, hungry and racked with disease. It is the story of their trek and rescue by heroic men. The book is obviously painstakingly researched by Mr. Westfall. It leaves nothing out, as he gibes the account of Denville's plight and the heart-wrenching letter's of his mother that lead a ...more
Sep 02, 2012 Becca rated it liked it
Thanks to goodreads and the publisher for my First Reads copy!
This was a well-researched account of the rescue of American prisoners of war in the Philippines. Perhaps the most impressive part of the book is the sheer number of photos included; I would not have imagined so many would exist.
I disagree with the book's self-comparison to Heart of Darkness, although I suspect it may have been the publisher's decision and not the author's. Fortunately it is not the horrible read that Conrad's book wa
Sharon Huether
Oct 17, 2012 Sharon Huether rated it really liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I won this book through Goodreads.The Devil's Causeway: A true Story of America's First Prisioners of War in the Philippines and the Heroic Expedition Sent to Their Rescue By Matthew Westfall The Story is a history of the US helping the Philippines regain their freedom from Spain;and what happens when a arrogant Lt. disobeys his orders. Many men were killed by tribesman and the jungles inviroment led to many death too. Other US soldiers were called in to rescue the prisioners . The Philippines d ...more
Aug 15, 2012 Robbie rated it it was amazing
I received my free copy through Goodreads First Reads. Thank you! This is yet again another book to have on hand as a gift. Perfect for anyone who loves history and for those who don't. It is not dry at all and grabs your attention from page one. I could go into detail about the book but won't for fear of giving away the excitement of the plot. Do yourself a favor and pick up a copy and learn about the true story of Americas first prisoners of war in the Phillipines in 1899, and the Army soldier ...more
Sep 03, 2012 Mark rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
I received a copy of this book for free through Good Reads first reads.

A very informative book that can be a little dry at times but that's pretty difficult to avoid in a non-fiction work with this type of subject matter. It was a proof copy that I got and I hope the run-on sentences and overuse of commas was cleaned up a bit in the released copy. I found parts of the book that had lots were a bit tedious. Good first effort for Mr Westfall.
Oct 06, 2012 Janice rated it really liked it
This book was a Goodreads Giveaway.

This is a well-researched, true story about a little known incident during the Philippine War against the US in the late 1800's and early 1900's. The book was well-written and I found it to be a "page-turner." I would suggest, however, that the prologue about Venville should be placed near the end of the book where the other information about Venville is.
Aug 25, 2012 Laura rated it liked it
I received this from goodreads. It is a very intense look at the true story of the America's first prisoners of war in the Phillipines. It is very accurate and in depth. The amount of pain and suffering they went through is hard to imagine. The details and the photos are remarkable.
Fredrick Danysh
Aug 30, 2014 Fredrick Danysh rated it liked it
Shelves: history, world-war-ii
Following the Spanish-American War in the Philippines, an American naval shore party attempted to rescue a small Spanish garrison from Filipino forces. The entire American party was killed or captured. This is the story of that incident.
Aug 18, 2012 Paul rated it it was amazing
Full disclosure: I received an advance copy of this book as a result of a giveaway from the publisher through Goodreads.

So far, I read the first 15 or so pages, and it's quite informative. I will update this with a complete review when I finish the book.
Oct 07, 2012 Larry rated it really liked it
Westfall's book deals in depth with a POW rescue in the early stages of the Filipino Insurrection. It wanders a bit, but it's a good read based on good research.
Larry Mortel
Larry Mortel rated it it was amazing
Feb 17, 2013
Tiffany Thordal
Tiffany Thordal rated it really liked it
Aug 30, 2012
Joji rated it really liked it
Feb 02, 2015
Miguel Salcedo
Miguel Salcedo rated it it was amazing
May 11, 2015
Lydia M.
Lydia M. rated it really liked it
Dec 09, 2012
Amanda rated it it was amazing
Mar 10, 2013
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Matthew Westfall has devoted much of his professional career to tackling poverty in the developing world. As a regional director at a multilateral development bank, Matthew oversees a portfolio of urban infrastructure investments in water supply, sanitation and urban transport in the Central and West Asia region.

Matthew is also an award-winning writer, producer and director of film and video produ
More about Matthew Westfall...

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