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We Band of Angels: The Untold Story of American Nurses Trapped on Bataan by the Japanese
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We Band of Angels: The Untold Story of American Nurses Trapped on Bataan by the Japanese

4.22  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,675 Ratings  ·  239 Reviews
Hailed by "The New York Times Book Review" as a "grippingly told" story of "power and relevance," here is the true, untold account of the first American women to prove their mettle under combat conditions. Later, during three years of brutal captivity at the hands of the Japanese, they also demonstrated their ability to survive. Filled with the thoughts and impressions of ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published May 1st 2000 by Atria Books (first published 1999)
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The Midwife by Jennifer WorthWe Band of Angels by Elizabeth M. NormanGoodnight, and Thanks for the Vodka by HarpieAnd If I Perish by Evelyn M. MonahanLife Support by Suzanne Gordon
Real Nurses
2nd out of 139 books — 50 voters
Hiroshima by John HerseyThe Diary of a Young Girl by Anne Frank1939 - The War That Had Many Fathers by Gerd Schultze-RhonhofChurchill, Hitler and "The Unnecessary War" by Patrick J. BuchananThe Rise and Fall of the Third Reich by William L. Shirer
World War Two Non Fiction
41st out of 330 books — 300 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
They were mostly daughters of farmers and blue collar workers. Not having much better options, the USA having just gone through the Great Depression, they decided to join the US military as nurses.

Assigned to the Philippines, they were having the time of their lives with very little work to do and lots of handsome military men (Americans, of course) who invite them to dinners, dancing and parties. The country was a tropical paradise then, especially to them, its then colonial masters.

Nov 23, 2013 Mike rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
We Band of Angels: The Untold Story of American Nurses Trapped on Bataan by the Japanese gets 4 Stars and I am so thankful someone was able to capture these stories of women at war before it was too late. A group of Army and Navy nurses expect fun, romance, excitement in the exotic paradise of 1940’s Philippines. What they will get is war and prison camp when the Japanese attack and conquer the PI. These independent, adventurous women find themselves on the front line, caring for thousands of to ...more
Dec 14, 2013 happy rated it really liked it
I found this an interesting look at an untold story of World War II. This was a fairly short, quick read that tells the story of the roughly 100 American nurses stranded in the Philippines with outbreak of war in December 1941. The author makes good use of diaries and interviews to tell their story. In some ways she attributed the fact the she is a nurse herself, her ability to connect with the Nurses who where still surviving at the time this book was researched.

Ms. Normon not only looks at wh
Jan 20, 2014 Donna rated it it was amazing
My Great Aunt, Captain Edith Shacklette "Shack" was one of the Angels. I can not be unbiased about this book as it holds a dear place in my heart and on my shelf. I have read everything I can get my hands on about this subject. Ms. Norman's book is the best of all of them I have read. Her research, interviews with then still living 'Angels', and her writing style, make this a absorbing and page turning treatise on an important part of World War II history.
Jan 21, 2009 MJ rated it really liked it
Shelves: book-club
For so many reasons, finding “We Band of Angels” on our book club book list was a real gem for me. My father and I had an often repeated ritual which would take place anytime my mother would ask me to find my dad to tell him dinner was almost ready, or that he needed to start getting ready for some outing. He would be in the basement rummaging through his drawer of Navy photographs from his almost 8 years in the Pacific (1938-1945). He’d often show me an oversized photograph of a military parade ...more
Sharon Huether
Oct 16, 2013 Sharon Huether rated it really liked it
Shelves: true-story, wwii
We Band of Angels: The Untold Story of American Nurses Trapped on Bataan By the Japanese..By Elizabeth M. Norman... True accounts from the Nurses that served in the Phillipines when the Japanese began their take over of Bataan. The nurses were evacuated to Corridore, leaving the sick and wounded in Batan was the hardest thing they ever did. At Corrigador there was a long underground tunnel that housed the hospital. They thought they were safe. Once again the nurses had to be evacuated. They left ...more
Feb 10, 2010 Mandy rated it it was amazing
This book was recommended to me by a fellow nurse. It is about the first "military" nurses who were in the Philippines at the time that the Japanese invaded during WWII. The nurses were among those taken to internment camps on the main island, along with whoever was not Filipino and happened to not be military and unfortunate enough to be around when the bombing started.

This book is a documentary so kind of a slow read, but I liked it a lot. Not only do I have a connection with the nurses (kind
Stacy Sullivan
Nov 24, 2014 Stacy Sullivan rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
The true story was very well written with amazing description. This books comes highly recommended.
Jan 08, 2013 Barbara rated it it was amazing
Shelves: read-non-fiction
The nurses survived internment because they held together as a group and found purpose in their lives. They are nurses.
This book was deeply interesting, but more difficult to read than I had expected, simply because of the horrible experiences these women went through: treating thousands of casualties under extreme conditions during the disastrous siege of Bataan—literally on the jungle floor, under enemy bombardment—and later three years of confinement and gradual starvation in an internment camp. They suffered the trauma of being forced to abandon their wounded patients to the enemy, and some bore the addition ...more
Oct 28, 2014 kelley rated it it was amazing
I really enjoyed reading We band of Angels. Often the fear in reading true stories about less than pleasant events is that the book will focus on the negative. Dr. Norman did an excellent job of discussing the difficulties these women (and men) faced during the fall of Manilla, Bataan, and Corregidor and their subsequent internment, without dwelling too much on the horrible things that befell them. I think the attitude in her writing came from the women she interviewed for the story. These remar ...more
Feb 22, 2014 Donna rated it it was amazing
I can rate this book while still reading because this will be the second time I've read it. If you're a nurse or have served in the military this is a must read. When the Japanese invaded the Philippines during WWII ninety-nine American army and navy nurses without any combat training found themselves suddenly behind enemy lines. They spent months working under appalling conditions in hidden field hospitals in the jungles of Bataan, moving frequently to stay ahead of Japanese. Eventually an evac ...more
Feb 11, 2014 Chelsea rated it it was amazing
This was a great read!
Elizabeth Norman tells a story lost (for the most part) to history. She follows the journey of Army and Navy nurses who were taken prisoner, along with soldiers and civilians, on Bataan by the Japanese.
The Pacific theater is often overlooked, and the women's perspective (and heroism) is nearly always ignored. The nurses kept their spirits, dignity and love of country all throughout their horrific ordeal and their story is amazing. More than keeping their own dignity, thro
Feb 03, 2009 Diane rated it it was amazing
One of the best non-fiction books I've ever read. It is heartwarming and at the same time heartbreaking. Told in a style that puts the reader directly into the lives of these valiant nurses - it takes you on a journey through the horrors of World War Two in the Pacific - as if you were there. The author draws you into the Malinta Tunnel underground hospital on Corregidor and describes the almost superhuman endurance of the military nurses working there to save their patients - and she does it wi ...more
Jul 24, 2010 Jaclyn rated it it was amazing
With so much pressure on historians to be dry and quiet, it is thrilling to read a really great, action-packed story full of real heroes (not heroines in the classic sense who faint and wring their tiny hands at the first sign of chaos) and honest to God danger. These women are representative of our gender today as much as they were when sunning themselves on the beaches of the Philippines, or quieting the screams of men who were wounded and dying, while slowly decaying themselves. Because honor ...more
Linda Appelbaum
Jul 16, 2013 Linda Appelbaum rated it it was amazing
I have read several WWII books and this one is special because it is about women nurses who served in Bataan and Correigidor and then were interred in a POW camp run by the Japanese. I have often marveled at how men in war and in POW camps survived. The Japanese camps were particularly horrible and towards the end many were so sick, surviving on 700 calories or less a day while being forced to work. This book tells the story of the nurses and what they had to endure in a time when few women were ...more
Natalie Wright
Mar 22, 2016 Natalie Wright rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
3.5 out of 5!
Mar 23, 2016 Linda rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I saw this sitting on a library display and brought it home out of curiosity. A story that was completely new to me in so many ways. Americans tend to see everything through our own eyes and our country, so I did not know the Japanese bombed the Philippine Islands a mere two hours after Pearl Harbor. Nor did I understand that Bataan was a peninsula on the main island of Luzon or that Corregidor was an island in Manila Bay — the rock that would keep out the enemy.

In addition to American and Fili
Nov 11, 2014 Hope rated it really liked it
On the same day that Pearl Harbor was bombed the Japanese navy also launched attacks on American naval and army bases on the Philippine Islands. Tens of thousands of soldiers were trapped on the peninsula of Baatan and the island of Corregidor. For months they obeyed Macarthur’s orders to “never surrender”. But by May of 1942, tropical diseases and lack of food had weakened the troops to such an extent that they were no longer able to resist enemy advances.

Knowing a little about the Bataan Death
Laura Edwards
Sep 30, 2015 Laura Edwards rated it liked it
Shelves: wwii
A fascinating subject, but I didn't really care for the author's writing style. At times, she seems a little condescending toward certain people (Ruth Straub comes immediately to mind). Ruth is painted as too sentimental and ill-equipped to handle war. I was waiting for her to suffer an immediate breakdown and need to be cared for by the other nurses. Never happened. She did her duty under fire for over five months until being evacuated. I thought the sense of shaming employed was regrettable on ...more
Aug 12, 2015 Sue rated it really liked it
Norman brings to the reader a part of WWII history that definitely hasn't had much, if any, publicity. The narrative of American Army and Navy nurses caught in the Philippines at the start of the war. As Bataan and Corregidor fell, we know about the horrific Bataan death march but what about the nurses? Caught in the terrible fighting, they spent long hours with little supplies, nursing the wounded in the worst possible conditions. When captured, they were interned for the rest of the war, almos ...more
Sarah Anne Carter
Dec 29, 2014 Sarah Anne Carter rated it it was amazing
In the late 1930s and early 1940s, nurses joined the military to serve their country and seek adventure. The most adventurous volunteered for overseas tours, including the Philippines. The nurses who ended up on the island were rewarded with light work and a tropical paradise to explore on their time off. They golfed, dined with offices, walked the beaches and enjoyed the local culture.
Then, the Japanese bombed the island and they were on the frontlines of the war.
This book caught my eye at a l
Aug 07, 2008 Mechel rated it it was amazing
This book is heart-wrenching in what these women and prisoners had to endure. When the U.S. forces broke down the gate to their internment camp and liberated the prisoners, I cried for joy. There were many unsung heros of World War II and the Greatest Generation. The Nurses were among those heroes.
Jun 05, 2007 Nicole rated it really liked it
Great story about the Army and Navy nurses who were trapped on Bataan when the Japanese invaded. They witnessed and experienced the internment camps in which they were placed and shared tragic loss from 1942 until their liberation in 1945. These women are heroes and their story in finally being told.
Mark Darby
Jun 07, 2014 Mark Darby rated it it was amazing
I read this book when I was trying to write a nurse's week presentation. It was a great find. The story about how the work of nursing saved the nurses from so much death, gave them purpose, is something that resonates with me. A great read! Good use facts and personal story.
Jul 30, 2014 Beverly rated it really liked it
We Band of Angels is the story of women nurses caught up in the drama and danger of war. On December 7, 1941 Japan also struck American bases in the Philippines. That raid led to the first major land battle for America in World War II. Caught up in this were ninety-nine Army and Navy nurses--the first unit of American women ever sent into the middle of a battle. The "Angels of Bataan and Corregidor" became the only group of American women captured and imprisoned by an enemy. And the story of the ...more
Jun 06, 2014 Rebecca rated it really liked it
Shelves: adult-books, wwii
Fascinating account of the Army and Navy nurses who lived through hell in the Philippines in WWII. Many of the young women signed up for adventure in the tropics, not really believing they'd end up in a war. They endured shelling, heat, dysentery, malaria, snakes, bugs, and hunger while treating horribly wounded men, despite the fact that they had not been trained in combat medicine. They showed remarkable courage, stamina, and dedication.Then they were taken as POWs and lived under horrific con ...more
Jul 15, 2014 Barb rated it really liked it
Some 90 Army and Navy nurses start off at a hospital in Manila, then flee to Bataan and Corrigodor when the Japs invade. On Bataan, they set up hospitals in the jungle with no buildings to house their patients. On Corrigodor they set up in a tunnel in the mountains. When the Japanese overrun Bataan, the nurses are forced to leave their patients behind and also move to Corrigodor, joining the others there. This always bothered those nurses. Eventually they all had to surrender to the enemy and sp ...more
Jun 04, 2014 Dana rated it it was amazing
I had to read about the female nurses described in"We Band Of Angels" whose dedication and drive prompted them to join the military and seek adventure during the war in the Pacific. The book marshaled an immense amount of information in an informative, yet entertaining manner. By using the nurses' journal entries, theauthor highlighted the experiences of several women who worked as nurses on Bataan and were then held asprisoners of war. The horrors of war were especially clear to me when a bombi ...more
Jan 18, 2009 Lori rated it liked it
Read this as a "Have to Read" in Nursing School. However, it was very good actually. Id like to read it again now that I am actually a real nurse now!
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