Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath
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Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath

4.18 of 5 stars 4.18  ·  rating details  ·  1,282 ratings  ·  198 reviews
For the first four months of 1942, U.S., Filipino, and Japanese soldiers fought what was America’s first major land battle of World War II, the battle for the tiny Philippine peninsula of Bataan. It ended with the surrender of 76,000 Filipinos and Americans, the single largest defeat in American military history.

The defeat, though, was only the beginning, as Michael and El...more
Hardcover, 480 pages
Published June 9th 2009 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (first published January 1st 1992)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Matt
The “Epic of Defeat” is history’s way of looking at the bright side of things. It says, “Hey, we might have gotten our asses kicked, but some day, it’ll make a great movie.” Western Civilization’s first “Epic of Defeat” was Thermopylae, where Leonidas’ merry band of Spartan Chippendales fought off a million Persians under Xerxes. Even though all the Spartans died, they saved Greece.

America loves the “Epic of Defeat.” Probably because we’re an optimistic people who get defeated a lot. Heck, the...more
Jeffrey
Jul 02, 2009 Jeffrey rated it 5 of 5 stars
Shelves: war
I know that there are some out there that shy away from revisionist histories. The entire genre has gotten a bad reputation due to the power of the truly crank cases, whether it be Holocaust denial, Howard Zinn’s indictments on American History (or western civilization in general) or Pat Buchanan’s ode to Nazi Germany. Yet, there are plenty of other works that fall into the genre that are not meant to do anything more than to increase our understanding of the events of yesteryear. Tears in the...more
Teresa
I was prepared to love this book in a really emotionally moving way; but ultimately I was disappointed by several aspects of Tears in the Darkness. I commend the author on his research and presentation of the individual stories of many of the participants in the Battle of Bataan and subsequent tragic events. The March itself was horrifying, of course. And then, all of a sudden, the reader is thrown into the "unfair" trial of General Homma, who is portrayed as merely a victim of circumstance who...more
David Bales
A devastatingly sad account of the events of 1941-'42 in the Philippines, and the aftermath of the war told from the perspective of several people, including Sgt. Ben Steel of Hawk Creek, Montana as well as former Japanese soldiers. Cut off, outnumbered, and by all war plans written off, the U.S. Army in the Philippines fought bravely for four months on the peninsula of Bataan, inflicting terrible casualties on the Japanese and then suffering the "Death March", a 66 mile trek to a railroad head...more
Ann Seymour
That people now understand MacArthur's failings. Here is the back story on Bataan: Everyone who has read "Tears in the Darkness" by Michael Norman calls it the best of the best, and I agree. Here is what I know about the events that led to the horriffic Bataan Death March.
On Pearl Harbor day, church bells pealed from cupolas in Manila, the sounds cresting, suspended, and six-inch long monkeys went swinging from lily to lily as if the flowers were trees. In Malacanan Palace, cleaning men polishe...more
Scott Archer
Released in June of 2009, Tears in the Darkness is the story of the Bataan Death March and the POW camps of the Japanese in the Philippines and Japan. Absolute must read. I was hesitant about this purchase because it seemed like such a depressing story. But it was actually an exciting read and life-affirming.

My one criticism concerns the authors' viewpoint about the executions of Gen. Homma and other senior Japanese military leaders for war crimes. The authors believe these executions were unjus...more
Sayuri
It is a true story of tens of thousands of American and Filipino POW's forced to march to their prison by the Japanese during WWII. Even though everything in the book is factual, it read like a fiction. The authors did extensive research from countless books, records, newspapers, diaries, and interviews. And I appreciate that the authors stayed neutral throughout the book and offered bits of accounts from both American and Japanese sides; there were plenty of stories within the book to contradic...more
Lee Ann
Michael Norman and Elizabeth Norman wrote an incredible book when they wrote Tears in the Darkness: the Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath. The surrender of more than 76,000 American and Filipino troops on the Bataan peninsula is not a part of World War II that I learned much about in history classes, and I am so thankful that I stumbled upon this book at the library.

Captivating and well-written, this book also dredged up academic memories from college experience at Whittier Colle...more
Lisa
Sep 09, 2014 Lisa rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommended to Lisa by: KD
Shelves: 21stcentury, gift, history, war, usa
This remarkable book was sent to me by K.D., a GoodReads friend from the Philippines, because I had expressed an interest in learning more about his country. As K.D. had explained, it’s an American book, focussed primarily on their experiences as POWs under Nippon, but because the notorious Bataan Death March took place in the Philippines, the victims also included Filipino soldiers. The numbers are appalling: of 75,000 captives, 67,000 were Filipinos, 1,000 were Chinese Filipinos, and 11,796 we...more
Peggy
This was an excellent history of World War II and the Bataan Death March. Some reviews have called it revisionist history, but maybe it was just the truth coming out. As school children, we were taught about the greatness of MacArthur, but my dad, who served in the force that liberated Bataan, never had a lot of good things to say about the general. If the views held in the book are as common as I now think, I understand why my dad felt the way he did and who others do also.

MacArthur left his...more
K.D. Absolutely
This is a must-read books for all Filipinos. Once again, it tells us not only what atrocities Japanese and injustice Americans did to Filipinos. I wish that there will be a cheaper version of this book so that it will be more affordable to us. Tata J lent me this 1st edition (2009) book that he bought at around US$20. Thanks again, Tata J for another perspective- if not life-changing book!

This is my 3rd book read this year alone on what happened during World War II here in the Philippines. Last...more
John Wagner
Disclaimer - my uncle survived the Bataan Death March, but died at Bilibid prison hospital in Manila just weeks before it was liberated. I read this to get a sense of what his 3 yrs in captivity must have been like.

The book loosely follows the life of a Montana cowboy through the ordeal, though the cowboy gets sent to Japan as a slave laborer while it appears my uncle never left the Philippines.

I was expecting the book to be full of Japanese atrocity against the prisoners and there is plenty of...more
Misha
This book was a hard one to listen to. Though I've read several books of POW's, this one said a lot of the gritty details. It is hard to fathom, imagine or understand such atrocities and inhumane conditions. What I liked about this particular book, was how both sides were told at times. Though definitely more heavy on the telling of the American side, I loved having a bit of Japanese history and perspective of those involved with this particular part of the war as well. It made me more aware of...more
Diane
Absolutely fantastic! I attended a book-signing and met the authors and Ben Steele himself. He is an awsome man. What a great story.
Susan
Jan 21, 2010 Susan rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in WWII history
4 1/2 stars. “The Story of the Bataan Death March And Its Aftermath” is more than just that. It tells of the situations leading up to the march on Luzon in the Philippines and a bit after the end of the war. It is also the story of Ben Steele, a cowboy who endured the march. This is not just a cold history, but is up close and personal, giving names and faces to the stories. It is hard to believe that after so many centuries, humans can still be so incredibly cruel to one another. The story is a...more
George Sangiolo
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Ed
Aug 02, 2013 Ed rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: History, WWII, Pacific War Fans
An incredible chronicle of the events leading up to, surrounding and following the Bataan Death March, April 1942.

The protagonist in this non-fiction chronicle is Ben Steele, a native of Billings Montana and still with us. Ben's story is interwoven with material from diaries and journals as well as other source material from those Americans, Filipinos and Japanese who were there.

Ben, developed the ability to sketch while a captive and his sketches are scattered throughout the narrative. This st...more
Mary
I gave this book five stars because I thought the research was exceptional, it was an absolutely fresh look at a very worn-out topic (WWII), and it was the first book on war I've read that captured the mindset, worldview, and experiences of BOTH sides (in this case, American and Japanese). The couple who co-wrote it obviously brought in their own areas of expertise and experience, and I just can't imagine how much time and effort it must have taken to interview so many people and dig up the kind...more
Kim
Had a hard time deciding between 3 and 4 stars. Ultimately went with 4 because of all I learned from this book. I was aware of the Bataan Death March but never knew about the specifics of the March and the atrocities that followed. General Douglas MacArthur played a major role in the American defeat and the plight the solders were left in on the Bataan Peninsula. Throughout the conflict and even after defeat, he failed to acknowledge his responsibility for his actions and was even awarded a Meda...more
R.Friend
Michael Norman does a great job of illustrating the unimaginable horrors that Ben Steele and his comrades endured on Bataan and throughout their 3-year ordeal as POWs in Japan. His glimpses of the Japanese experience as well are enlightening, particularly the hohei diaries which literally give unprecedented firsthand Japanese accounts. The brutality extends far beyond anything I've read prior, and it's one of those rare stories that truly makes you appreciate everything you have--even the little...more
Andres
This book was an amazing look at one of the most harrowing events for our soldiers in the Pacific theater during WWII: the Bataan Death March. As an avid Japanophile, and more especially one who realizes that the Japanese, like all people, have a dark side to balance their more intriguing and alluring aspects, this book was a fascinating read. My only caveat to the contents, which mostly come from a first hand account by one of the survivors of the Death March, is the often implied and sometimes...more
Tony
Aug 09, 2009 Tony rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: wwii
Stories of war can be told from the viewpoint of the generals and politicians who make them; or by analysis of strategy and topography; or, as in Tears in the Darkness, in the words and actions of the men and women who do the fighting and the dying. This book is gripping and moving. The Death March and what follows is told in horrifying detail. We meet Ben Steele: cowboy, artist, survivor. Steele becomes as memorable as Major Richard Winters in Ambrose's Band of Brothers. The authors also do a c...more
Darcy Sosebee
I have mixed feelings about this book. I applaud the authors for their vast and extensive research, spanning countries, decades, and a myriad of oral histories from survivors. However, I found the overall organization and thesis not only disjointed, but suspect. I did not buy their conclusions about General Homma's "innocence/ignorance;" nor did I find their argument that he was "railroaded" by an aggressive/unfair prosecution to be founded at all, based upon their treatment of the subject. It w...more
Linda
From the book cover:

"For the first four months of 1942, American, Filipino and Japanese soldiers fought what was to become America's first major land battle of World War II: the battle for the tiny Pnilippine peninsula of Bataan. The brutal fight ended with the surrender of 76,000 Americans and Filipinos, the single largest defeat in American military history."

What followed for those soldiers over the next 41 months was one of the most brutal and cruel atrocities of the war. Authors Michael and...more
Sunni
Aug 28, 2009 Sunni marked it as to-read
I was adopted by one of my mother's husbands, Vernon C. Reed, who survived the Bataan Death March. He was cruelly tortured and watched his brother starve to death.

He spoke some of his experience, bared much hatred for the "Japs", and was angered at how little respect and dues were given him by our government. He'd say, "A Purple Heart"? You can't eat a Purple Heart or pay bills with it."

Vernon passed away in 1995 and since I was a troubled teenager living in his home and didn't use that opportu...more
Donny
A truly amazing read. I literally could not put this book down. Tears in the Darkness is an eye-opening look into the horrors endured by the American POWs held in Japanese hands during the Second World War. This book is not for the faint at heart and does depict some graphic scenes. If you are faint at heart I would not recommend this book. The book also details the inner-experiences of the Japanese soldiers during the ordeal and imprisonment. However, I do feel that the authors provided a bit t...more
Michelle
This was a pretty well done study of the experience of an American POW in the Philippines in WWII. Ever since reading a fiction book on the subject a few years ago, I've wanted to read a historical account, and have begun a few, only to be discouraged by tone and language. It seems bad language is just something to put up with in this subject--this book had plenty, too, but because most of the book was presented as the story of one man, I was able to stick with it better. I was sometimes confuse...more
Brenda
An unbelievably well documented, and written story of a terrible experience in American History. Like Viet Nam, this was a group of soldiers forgotten until year after their return.
The sacrifices that were made for America in this war, the atrocities suffered when leaders fail was a painful read.
My father served as an Alamo Scout pre-invasion in the Phillipines. I was told he was a hero, from an friend of my Dad's after his death.
Daddy hardly spoke of the experience. While not on the 'march', he...more
Ginny
I listened to this on audio book and, also, have the print version. I referred to certain sections while listening to the book. Since I have lived in the Philippines and I have Filipino relatives, this book really pulled at my heart and caused great disgust that people can treat people in such a horrible manner. Naturally, I have read other accounts of the Bataan Death March. This was very interesting because it covered from Dec. 7, 1941 through the end of the war and the trials. I'm sure that s...more
Mike Baxter
This book was difficult to put down. It stirred emotions of pain, suffering, and hate along with forgiveness and hope. Very well written, as this pulls you in and makes it easy to imagine you are there in each of the scenes. Even if you aren't into military history, I would recommend this book. There are some dark and somewhat disturbing accounts that can be hard to stomach, but it isn't fiction. I thought it was excellent in bringing accounts not just from an American perspective, but from Phil...more
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Librarian Note: There is more than one author in the GoodReads database with this name. See this thread for more information.

Michael Norman, is the co-author of TEARS IN THE DARKNESS: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath (2009), a work of narrative non-fiction that was on the New York Times bestseller list for eight weeks and was picked by Times critic Dwight Garner, as well as o...more
More about Michael Norman...
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