Escape From Davao: The Forgotten Story of the Most Daring Prison Break of the Pacific War
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Escape From Davao: The Forgotten Story of the Most Daring Prison Break of the Pacific War

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4.29 of 5 stars 4.29  ·  rating details  ·  439 ratings  ·  82 reviews
On April 4, 1943, ten American prisoners of war and two Filipino convicts executed a daring escape
from one of Japan’s most notorious prison camps. The prisoners were survivors of the infamous Bataan Death March and the Fall of Corregidor, and the prison from which they escaped was surrounded by an impenetrable swamp and reputedly escape-proof. Theirs was the onl...more
ebook, 448 pages
Published May 11th 2010 by Simon & Schuster (first published April 24th 2010)
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Rob Maynard
I've been off Goodreads for a couple of months. Being on a payroll and balancing a family, project work, and a new smart phone haven't left much time for pontificating here. But I have kept reading, and I'll try to catch up with recommendation of John D. Lukacs' first book, Escape From Daveo is astounding to me as a 30 year reader of WWII history in that it's a story I've never heard. 12 American enlisted men and officers, with help from Phillipino guerillas and resistance members, escaped from...more
Holly
This is a true story of heroes -- real heroes. I cannot imagine going through the trials that these brave men suffered.

Many of the details of the horrific battles in the South Pacific were eye-openers to me -- especially the treatment these men were given by FDR and General MacArthur.

If you choose to read this book, it will make you very sad at times, and -- if you are like me -- you will not leave unaffected. I just have to say: I partly agree with Brokaw. The generation that fought World War...more
Antun Karlovac
This was a terrific war story; engaging and well-paced. The storytelling was almost as fluid as a novel. However this wasn't fiction; the horrors the book described were real, and real people suffered through them.

In addition, the book raises some serious moral issues about the government's reluctance to allow the escapees to tell their stories to the public, until it was "convenient". Recently, we seem to see government behavior during WWII through rose-tinted glasses, and this book helps disp...more
Brenton
An excellent, well-researched history. The book is three things, a history of the atrocities surrounding the Bataan death march in WWII, a terrific POW escape story, and an interesting discussion of why the US government was so reticent to release the Bataan and POW stories coming out of the Pacific theater. If you liked Hampton Sides's "Ghost Soldiers," you'll enjoy this book.
Art Sanders
I read this book on vacation this year and what these men went through was no vacation. It's not light reading by any stretch of the imagination, but the story moves very quickly. If you like suspense novels with historical foundations, it's the book for you.
Kate
Dad said this was real good but parts of it were very hard to read because the stuff they went through was so awful. He had been to most of the places mentioned in the book - the Philippines, Singapore - when he was in the Navy during Vietnam.
Mary Mcqueen
A retelling of the story of a part of the Second World War in the Philippine Islands including the fall of Bataan and Corregidor, the Bataan Death March and the frustrations of men who escaped from a prison camp set in the middle of 18 miles of swamp. I am so moved by the frustrations of the men who, having gotten out, were not allowed to tell their stories or answer the questions of the concerned families of their comrades. Can't wait to see what happens next.

I finished this book not long after...more
Linda
I am usually not a fan of military stories BUT having lived in the Philippines and visiting Corrigedor and other WWII battle sites, I was determined to try and read this account. At one point, I was so horrified and upset by the descriptions of what went on in the POW camps, that I couldn't sleep and was determined to not finish the book. However, I prevailed and couldn't put the book down as I read of their planning and escape and then the about the politics of the American government to keep t...more
David
This is the story of the only mass escape from a Japanese POW camp by Allies during WWII. Ten men escaped. Lukacs starts with each member of the party, how they grew up and joined the forces, Battan, prison camp, planning the escape and the aftermath and legacy.
This book is different than most escape stories. I would guess about 40% of the book is about the escape itself. The rest describes the people, the early battles, the death march and the first camp they were in, and finally the legacy th...more
Jack Lafitte
Escape From Davao is an exceptionally well-researched and beautifully written account of the only mass escape of United States prisoners of war in the Pacific Theatre of WW2. If you like military history and/or adventure, as well as true tales of endurance, faith and resolve, this is the book for you. The subject matter is at times extremely gruesome, so be forewarned. But Lukacs writes so brilliantly, I found myself mesmerized at times by certain passages or phrases. There have been quite a few...more
Ahkudroid
The level of detail brought forth in the prose by such a young author on a subject now so long ago is astounding. John D. Lukacs is truly an authority on the subject. It is obvious that his travels to the locations and talks with those somehow associated with the subject has paid off. This isn't your typical war story. It is a story that personifies the unknown atrocities, at that time, that were performed against the POWs by the ruthless Japanese and the heroism and perseverance it took to over...more
Charlie Domalmik
If you are an avid reader of history, especially WWII history, you learn to cherish new stories that have been forgotten over time. John Lukacs has brought to life an amazing true story about one of the most incredible events in WW II through incredibly detailed research. The story of these brave men who did the impossible is riveting in its rich detail. I can not wait for the next book by Lukacs -- I have a feeling that this young writer is just scratching the surface of his potential. I may ne...more
Ahkudroid
The level of detail brought forth in the prose by such a young author on a subject now so long ago is astounding. John D. Lukacs is truly an authority on the subject. It is obvious that his travels to the locations and talks with those somehow associated with the subject has paid off. This isn't your typical war story. It is a story that personifies the unknown atrocities, at that time, that were performed against the POWs by the ruthless Japanese and the heroism and perseverance it took to over...more
Elaine
Very interesting and sad story of the men who survived the Bataan death march in WWII. This is the true story of men who were sent to Davao prison camp after the forced march. They endured torture at the hands of the Japanese and daringly escaped from the prison camp. The story follows their escape route thru the jungle, subsequent rescue, and the Washington politics that were at play during their capture and rescue. If you are at all interested in WWII history, this is a must read.
John
My dad fought in the Pacific in WWII. He told many stories of his experiences. As a teenager, I read about the Bataan Death March and last January visited the Bataan Memorial at Mt Samat and drove some of the route of the March. I learned a lot more about that time in history from this book and I found myself emotional at times while reading. A great book for history buffs. On my next trip to the Philippines, I want to see more of the locations in the book on Luzon.
Dan Appel
I have a hard time avoiding a good true story of a dramatic escape and this book is a great story told well about one of the most dramatic prison escapes of World War II - a story which was suppressed at the time because the leadership of our country felt that, were the conditions in the Japanese prison camps in the Philippines to become known,it would detract from the sales of war bonds to support the war in Europe.

A book well worth reading!
Steve
This is a fascinating account of 10 American POWs (one of whom was my grandfather) who escaped, against all odds, from a Japanese prison camp in the Philippines. It reads as much like a nail biting thriller as military history and includes savage accounts of the Bataan Death March. It also exposes how the war in the Pacific took a backseat to the "Europe First" policy of America's military priorities in WWII.
Sam
I was thrilled when my Great Aunt gave me this book for Christmas in 2010! Growing up in Albany, Texas our hometown hero was Edwin Dyess! When this book was written it gave me wonderful insights on why he was not only local hero but a national hero as well! This is such a well written book that it made me want to study more about the war in the Philippines and Asia. I can highly recommend John's book!
Sam
I was thrilled when my Great Aunt gave me this book for Christmas in 2010! Growing up in Albany, Texas our hometown hero was Edwin Dyess! When this book was written it gave me wonderful insights on why he was not only local hero but a national hero as well! This is such a well written book that it made me want to study more about the war in the Philippines and Asia. I can highly recommend John's book!
Kris
Totally amazing story but writing - a little dull. I'm especially intrested because one of the 10 men was from my city and lived here after the war, and I've never heard of him. He and 10 men changed the course of the whole world war, and I haven't heard of him! Crazy. So a very interesting story that I wish was written better.
J
As is the Bataan Death March wasn't atrocious enough these escapees tell what happened to the survivors. This account provides an insight to the general attitude regarding the Pacific War by many government officials and the bind the USA was in on how to wage war on two fronts when they were not ready for war at all.
Jodi Webb
The best war book I've ever read!!! It was such a treasure to read a piece of history that touched close to home since I grew up in Hawaii but my Great Grandparents were from Albany and lived across the street from William Dyess. Thank you for bringing a Forgotten Hero to the remembrance of future generations!
Jodi Webb
The best war book I've ever read!!! It was such a treasure to read a piece of history that touched close to home since I grew up in Hawaii but my Great Grandparents were from Albany and lived across the street from William Dyess. Thank you for bringing a Forgotten Hero to the remembrance of future generations!
Rick Slater
John did an excellent job on this topic. I personally met one or two of the survivors and thought I was very aware of what had happened. Lukacs dug out the details I had never heard of. Highly recommended! Reads like a fiction thriller, except it is ALL true!! (Hollywood take note!)
Karyn
Escape From Davao is a fabulous read. The author's research and passion really shines through. He gives you a great appreciation for the painstaking efforts of not only surviving but escaping the Japanese-occupied Philippines. A story you don't want to miss!
Pamela
I learned more about what happened during WWII, and after reading it, visited with one of the prisoner's sons (who happens to be married to one of my husband's first cousins. Very interesting!
Mister
Excellent, well done, most thoroughly researched true story. Made you feel like you were there, the ugliness of the prison camp and getting throughthe swamps with the men.
Maren
This story, and this time in history, are especially interesting to me because my family lived through it (in the Philippines). That being said, it's just such a great story!
Jeff
This is a great book - it really shows determination and provides more detail of the Pacific war. The feelings run deep and it truly makes me proud to be an American.
Chris Fallica
A great - albeit humbling - read about a WWII escape from Japanese atrocities in prison camps. A must for any World War II "fan"
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Writer, adventurer, historian and documentary filmmaker John D. Lukacs specializes in one-of-a-kind stories—the unusual, the unprecedented and the virtually unknown.

His first book, "Escape From Davao: The Forgotten Story of the Most Daring Prison Break of the Pacific War," was called "a most impressive authorial debut" by World War II Magazine, the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and "diligent, impassione...more
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“To American ears, the Filipino pronunciation of the word "evacuate" sounded more like "bokweet." They soon further Americanized it to "buckwheat," which would become guerilla slang meaning to place as much distance between oneself and the Japanese as possible.” 2 likes
“An aurora swirled in the night skies above Bataan, radiating around the smoke-shrouded peaks of the Mariveles Mountains. Intermittent flashes from phosphorus bombs and incendiary shells bathed the jungle in blinding bursts of white light. The rumbling, subterranean tremors had scarcely subsided when American stockpiles of TNT and ammunition dumps were detonated, causing the peninsula to convulse. Thousands of rounds of projectiles, from artillery and mortar shells to rifle bullets, streaked across the sky in arcing rainbows. "Never did a 4th of July display equal it in noise, lights, colors or cost," observed one officer.” 1 likes
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