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Pure Grit: How WWII Nurses in the Pacific Survived Combat and Prison Camp
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Pure Grit: How WWII Nurses in the Pacific Survived Combat and Prison Camp

4.15  ·  Rating details ·  504 ratings  ·  132 reviews
In the early 1940s, young women enlisted for peacetime duty as U.S. Army nurses. But when the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941 blasted the United States into World War II, 101 American Army and Navy nurses serving in the Philippines were suddenly treating wounded and dying soldiers while bombs exploded all around them. The women served in jerry-rigged jungle hospita ...more
Hardcover, 160 pages
Published March 1st 2014 by Abrams Books for Young Readers (first published January 1st 2014)
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Alex  Baugh
Jan 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: world-war-2
We all know about the surprise attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941, "a date that will live in infamy." But how many know that only 9 hours later, the Japanese launched an attack on American bases in the Philippines? The fact is that most of us don't really know as much about the Pacific front as we do the European front.

Likewise, most of us don't know that when American forces were forced to surrender and the troops who had not been killed were taken prisoner, among the POWs were approxi
Mar 13, 2016 rated it really liked it
There's no shortage of middle grade books about World War II, but they overwhelmingly about the American homefront of the European theater. The Pacific? Not so much. And there's precious little, at any Lexile, about the nurses who survived being captured by the Japanese largely through the refusal to do anything but. Their story is riveting in the way that stories about extreme adversity always is, and I can easily see the target age group being every bit as fascinated and inspired as I was.
Jan 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I have always loved books about Women in WWII. Ever since I read We Band of Angels: The Untold Story of American Nurses Trapped on Bataan by the Japanese in 2004, I have had a special interest in the nurses who served in the Philippines. I was thrilled last year to find A Pledge of Silence - a fictionalized version - and I have been eagerly awaiting the release of Pure Grit - a non-fiction Young Adult version. I want to thank Mary Cronk Farrell and her publisher for providing me with an ARC.

Dec 01, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Most Americans know little about the Pacific Theater of WWII aside from three bombings: the one that began the US involvement and the two that ended the war. Little is also generally known about the role of U.S. women, outside of their working on the home front in munitions factories. Reading Pure Grit, which contains a plethora of archival photographs, has the potential of remedying this lack of information perfectly for both young people and adults.

The title is well-chosen; these women never s
Feb 23, 2014 rated it really liked it
An unforgettable story of courage and dedication - and long overdue in the telling! Wrenching stories and perhaps the most important is how the nurses were treated when they came home. So important for young people to hear and remember. A great addition to WWII books and great for CCSS activities. My only quibble is that it was a bit hard to keep track of the many individuals in the book.
The required disclosure: I received an advanced copy of this book through Goodreads First Reads Giveaways.

I fell in love with the women featured in this book.
I fell in love with their strength, determination, and willpower.
I fell in love with their grit.
I fell in love with this book.

Following the experiences of military nurses stationed, during peacetime, in the Philippines, the book kicks off just after the bombing of Pearl Harbor. Nurses find themselves thrown into a combat situation as Japane
Ms. Yingling
Jan 24, 2014 rated it it was amazing
There are so many facets of WWII that haven't been addressed as much in literature for children, and both the role of women and the Pacific theater are covered in this well formatted nonfiction title. Based on extensive research from first hand accounts, the lives of a group of Army nurses stationed in the Philippines is described in detail. From the country club atmosphere before the war to the extreme deprivations of being held captive by the Japanese, the struggles of daily life are depicted ...more
Ridgewood Public Library Youth Services
My rating 5 out of 5 stars:

This was an AMAZING non-fiction book. You can't help but get sucked in by the amazing survival stories of these army and navy nurses. I read it in less than a day, taking a break only to eat lunch. I couldn't put it down!
-Brenna (RPL)
Edward Sullivan
Mar 20, 2014 rated it really liked it
A poignant, inspiring true story of courage, devotion to duty, and incredible perseverance.
Apr 04, 2020 added it
This book was an eye opener. It was interesting yet frustrating to read about the ideas people had toward the nurses in civilian life. It was difficult to believe that recognition and help with medical problems were so slow in coming if they came at all. Wow it was a riveting story.
Jun 12, 2017 rated it really liked it
Fascinating and heartbreaking.
Just an excellent middle-grade NF story about the first combat/POW nurses in the beginning of WWII when the Japanese attacked the Philippines. It's graphic and heartbreaking. You'll be angry for them, angry with them, sad for them, sad with them. These women did not get the recognition - or more importantly - the HELP they needed when they returned home. Unlike their male counterparts, they were less likely to apply for VA benefits, and the few who did were often denied or given significantly le ...more
Aug 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Intriguing, well illustrated, exciting as well as being informative. The book was so fascinating because, as a high school student, information like this has been filed as interesting but irrelevant to the tests I had to pass to get my diploma. Now I get to read whatever I want and find out about interesting things that happened that aren't necessarily important in the scale of the whole of 20th century history. Hallelujah. Great book. A great story and a high caliber of information. There were ...more
Doug Dams
Dec 13, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: first-reads
This is a history of the Army and Navy nurses that were in the Phillipines when WWII broke out. The nurses went from learning how to handle wartime casualties, to retreating to field hospitals, and then being captured and held in POW camps. The history shows how the nurses changed and how the military viewed them. Before the war, nurses held no rank, then were given officer's rank. But it also shows how women POWs were told to be quiet about their imprisonment and denied compensation after the w ...more
Annie Oosterwyk
Mar 22, 2014 rated it really liked it
An interesting and easy to read nonfiction book that should be available to any student (middle, high) learning about WW2 and unsung heroes.
Living on the east coast, my educational experience focused on Europe and the holocaust during WW2. The only thing I knew about in the Pacific was Pearl Harbor and Hiroshima.
Last week President Obama gave medals (and also some posthumous awards)to several surviving WW2 veterans/heroes who were discriminated against because of their skin color. The final ch
Sarah Rosenberger
Jun 11, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: war, history
I often tend to think of books about military history as appealing mainly to male readers, but Pure Grit: How American World War II nurses survived battle and prison camp in the Pacific by Mary Cronk Farrell is a book that will have women hooked too. Full of photos and first hand-accounts, it tells the often harrowing story of the American nurses who were stationed in the Philippines during World War II.

In the years before the war, being an Army nurse in the Philippines meant wearing ballgowns
Nov 21, 2013 rated it really liked it
Shelves: home-schooling
I received this book as a giveaway from Goodreads. Okay, now that, that is out of the way, here's what I thought.
I gave this to my 13 year old son to read for a home schooling assignment. If you have boys, you will know how hard it is to get them to read, much less something educational and about women, no less! His review would be glowing! He read this in 3 days and really enjoyed it. So much so, that he commented on it to a buddy of his.
I am assigning a book report on this book, because si
Sharon Marie Himsl
Excellent. Most have heard of the Bataan Death March when American soldiers were captured by the Japanese during WWII in the Philippines, and marched (many to their death) to prison camps. Cronk tells another side of the story involving the brave American nurses left behind, who hid out during the siege, under terrible conditions, caring for thousands of wounded soldiers and civilians. Eventually becoming prisoners themselves, they fought hard against starvation and disease, all the while tendin ...more
Laurie Thompson
Nov 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
This is a riveting account of true heroism from the Army and Navy nurses captured by the Japanese as WWII POWs, with a major theme being that we all have it in us to be strong in the face of adversity. Pictures and other archival research bring the history to life and allow us to see what it was like for these brave women and the soldiers (and civilians) who were in their care while they were interned. I had never heard about this particular piece of history before, and I was fascinating by the ...more
Penny Peck
Apr 28, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: children-ya
In this enthralling recounting of a relatively unknown part of WWII history, the Army and Navy nurses who were in the Philippines and were captured as POWs get to tell their stories. Both interviews from their later years, and contemporary letters, diaries, and newspaper stories combine to describe their ordeal. There is also a wealth of b&w photos, maps, source notes, index, glossary, and list of sources to add to the book's complexity. This is a fascinating look at WWII history and women's his ...more
NYC Reads 365
"Nursing was one of the few professions that was “acceptable” for young women during the first half of the 20th century. But the 101 women who worked as nurses for the US Army during peacetime soon found war interrupted their work and their lives. While the Japanese bombed the Philippine Islands, these women worked under harsh conditions and saved lives, even when they became prisoners themselves. This is an inspiring story of solidarity and heroism among everyday women who rose to the challenge ...more
Dec 20, 2013 rated it really liked it
This was a Goodreads advance copy. According to the cover it was written for young readers. Each chapter is short and easy to understand. The author does not sugar coat the descriptions of what these nurses went through as POWs. However their stories are told in a tactful way. Also the hardships they faced after the war are addressed. This text does honor to these women and should be an informative and compelling read for teenage school children.
Mar 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
A little known story of Army and Navy nurses who were caught up in the Japanese capture of American bases in the Phillipines during World War II. Woefully unprepared for combat nursing, the women endured harrowing conditions as POWs and were often the only care for hundreds of soldiers throughout their years in captivity. I especially appreciated the look at their lives in the aftermath. Excellent.
Really excellent nonfictional account of American army and navy nurses' ordeal in the Philippines in WW2. Detailed without being prurient, making it suitable for upper middle graders, and thoughtful on the shabby treatment these women received after the war. My only quibble is that the women all seem a little too angelic throughout - maybe that's me being cynical but I found that a little hard to believe.
Dianna Winget
Mar 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
I seldom read nonfiction having to do with war. But Pure Grit in an impressive, extremely well researched account of the incredible pressures brought to bear on military nurses during World War II. It's a little known, but important part of history, and the author does an excellent job transporting the reader and allowing them to experience the trauma and hardship of these nurses.
Tara Mickela
Embarrassed I did not know the horrifying lengths and depths of terror, starvation and suffering by so many during so much of the war in the Philippines. Told here in gruesome detail while still eliciting great tenderness (nature of nurses!) and highlighting the lives of a handful of nurses whose stories go far, far beyond heroic. Would love to make this required reading in 8th grade!!
Deby Fredericks
Oct 04, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I've been hearing about this book for some time and knew exactly what it would cover. Despite that, it drew me in with the immediacy and historic details. I especially enjoyed the chapter on the women's lives after liberation. The PTSD (a virtually unknown condition in that era) and how their service was overlooked for so many years. Great read for middle school or above.
Jul 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This book reminded me a lot of Unbroken, the first book that really got me thinking about the Pacific side of WWII. What POW's went through, and the lasting PTSD effects were barely acknowledged, especially in the case of women. It also makes me thankful my grandfather was "fortunate" to get shipped home with malaria before the Philippine islands were taken by Japan.
Dec 08, 2015 rated it really liked it
A fascinating, heartbreaking, and little known nonfiction book about POW nurses in World War II. I don't think there's enough on the Pacific side of the war, and so to have a book about the war in the Pacific, and from the point of view of women, is laudable. I was wowed by their temerity and yes, pure grit.
Nov 21, 2013 rated it liked it
Definitely worth reading, an easy, quick read. I actually learned quite a lot about WWII in the Pacific theater in this book...valuable history, unsung heroes, a part of the war that maybe didn't get as much press as others did.
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Madeline Anderson's Review 6 1 1 Oct 29, 2019 05:14PM  
Spring 2019, Wild...: Non fiction review of Pure Grit 1 4 Mar 29, 2019 11:52PM  
Historical Fiction!: Book on Woman POWs in WWII 1 16 Dec 12, 2013 12:44PM  

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I'm an award-winning author of Children's/YA books and former journalist with a passion for stories about people facing great adversity with courage. Writing such stories has shown me that in our darkest moments we have the opportunity to discover our true identity and follow an inner compass toward the greater good.

Both my fiction and non-fiction titles feature little-known true stories of histor

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