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

4.14  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,809 Ratings  ·  246 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 E
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Published July 9th 2009 by Tantor Media (first published January 1st 1992)
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Apr 26, 2016 Matt rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-ii
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
Jul 02, 2009 Jeffrey rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Nov 22, 2010 Teresa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
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
Dec 01, 2009 Sayuri rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Jul 02, 2012 Lee Ann rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: wow, world-war-ii
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
David Bales
Mar 09, 2010 David Bales rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2010
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
Scott Archer
Jul 10, 2012 Scott Archer rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: military-history
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
Sep 09, 2014 Lisa rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: KD
Shelves: usa, c21st, history, gift, war
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
Jan 04, 2010 Peggy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
K.D. Absolutely
Oct 03, 2009 K.D. Absolutely rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 13, 2015 Mary rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
John Wagner
Aug 12, 2013 John Wagner rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Aug 12, 2014 Misha rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
This is an excellent overview of the fall of the Philipines during 1942 and the subsequent trials endured by Allied POWs. Although the authors introduce us to many men who made the Bataan Death March, they wisely focus on a young Montanan, Ben Steele, who preserves the atrocities committed in enemy custody through his drawings. The Normans also cover the military tribunal that heard the case of General Homma who was in command of the Philipine campaign.
Grant Cousineau
Nov 23, 2015 Grant Cousineau rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was an absolutely jaw-dropping tale of torture, an examination of the atrocities that many people classify under the word "torture" in their mind (but never have to understand what that all entails), the effects that can have on a person, and the level of commitment to survival people like Ben Steele had to go through. For the large mid-section of the book, it seemed every page brought something worse than the page before. There was no break, no breath of air for these men. I can't remember ...more
Jan 17, 2016 Brett rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I put this book on my shelf along with other great books about WWII in the Pacific such as Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides, and Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand. I would recommend reading this and then following it with Ghost Soldiers. The author masterfully tells the story from both sides of the war. I think he takes you as close as you can get to the experience without having to go through the actual events. While unable to relate to the atrocities that these men faced, I somehow felt very connec ...more
Jul 22, 2009 Diane rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Absolutely fantastic! I attended a book-signing and met the authors and Ben Steele himself. He is an awsome man. What a great story.
Jan 21, 2010 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 04, 2012 George Sangiolo rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
May 07, 2016 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Oct 28, 2013 Kim rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Aug 21, 2009 Andres rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: library-loan
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
Aug 09, 2009 Tony rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Sep 07, 2010 Darcy Sosebee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Aug 28, 2009 Sunni marked it as to-read  ·  review of another edition
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
Feb 09, 2010 Donny rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-ii
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
Oct 08, 2009 Michelle rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
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
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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 about Michael Norman...

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