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The Leper Spy: The Story of an Unlikely Hero of World War II
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The Leper Spy: The Story of an Unlikely Hero of World War II

3.66  ·  Rating details ·  135 ratings  ·  24 reviews
The GIs called her Joey. Hundreds owed their lives to the tiny Filipina who stashed explosives in spare tires, tracked Japanese troop movements, and smuggled maps of fortifications across enemy lines. As the Battle of Manila raged, Josefina Guerrero walked through gunfire to bandage wounds and close the eyes of the dead. Her valor earned her the Medal of Freedom, but what ...more
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Published October 1st 2016 by Tantor Audio
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Barbara (The Bibliophage)
Josefina (Joey) Guerrero was a young woman living in the Philippines when Japan attacked and drove the U.S. soldiers and the burgeoning Philippine republic out. She chose to side with the Americans and the Philippine resistance, spying for them against the Japanese. She moved about Manila, gathering information and delivering supplies to the GIs. Of course, you wouldn't assume this to be an easy task. For Joey, it was easy to be "invisible" because she had leprosy (correctly called Hansen's ...more
Feb 05, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Having no real concept of how the Philippines played into WWII, I found the entire book fascinating. What a beautiful, brave soul.
I aways love a good, true story about women battling challenges. This one accomplishes that.

Josefina (goes by Joey) lived a good life in pre WW2 Manila, Phillipines. A good teenager who married an up and coming local daughter and had a daughter. Then, she started to become sick and had lesions on her skin. The doctors diagnosed her with leprosy and advised that she no longer lives with her husband and daughter to prevent them gettting the disease. Then, WW2 started in the Pacific theater. She
Nov 13, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: books-i-own
Very interesting story about a Filipino woman named Joey. It was a bit more history than I wanted - I was just interested in her story. I read this book because my professor/advisor in college knew Joey. They served in the Peace Corp together but my professor never knew any of this about Joey. Joey served the US as a spy in WWII and then selflessly served her peers in communities for people with leprosy (all while fighting the disease herself). She received great attention for her service and in ...more
Aug 16, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Prob 3.5 stars. I definitely learned a lot, and was awed by Joey Guerrero and her heroism, faith in God, optimism, and unending service to others. What an interesting and heartbreaking look into Hansen’s disease (leprosy) during the 40’s and 50’s and before. Her loss of Rene and Cynthia is especially sad. Also a shame that she faced such opposition to entering and then remaining in the US for treatment and citizenship after her amazing service as a US spy during WWII. This has been on my to-read ...more
Anne London
Jan 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this non-fiction book that told the story of Joey Guerrero and the two wars she fought--an integral part of the win over Japan in the Phillipines and then the fight for her life (and others)--and independence--over Hansen's Disease. There was definitely more of the details of war than I was expecting but I certainly learned a lot. I read quite a bit of historical fiction related to WW2 but did not really know anything about this part of the overall war with the exception of the ...more
Amy Rupert
Dec 23, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This biography covers Joey Guerrero's life, WWII in the Philippines, and a information on Hansen's disease (leprosy). Joey used her illness during the war to help the guerrillas and the Americans after the Japanese had invaded her country. She smuggled food, messages, and medicine. She campaigned for better living conditions for people with her disease in the Philippines and then continued this when she came to America. She was a very religious woman and believed that God used her for his ...more
Dec 09, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is truly a worthwhile read for the historical insight. You will gain so much appreciation for our military, the native people and what they experienced. The story is often riveting, but sometimes gruesome because of the war atrocities that occurred. Warning: the book does slow down a lot in the second half, which is all about Joey Guerrero's life after the war.
Nov 08, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This book covers a lot of ground. It is non-fiction and is the story of a woman with Hanson's disease (leprosy) during WWI. It contains a very informative overview of the role of the US army in the Phillipine's, which was a part of the WWI story I knew very little about. It also offers a historical perspective on the leprosy disease itself which was very fascinating.
Barbara Lovejoy
Sep 08, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating story! Not only was I inspired by this unlikely hero but I also learned a lot about the war in the Philippines that I didn't know as well as issues surrounding leprosy (Hansen's disease). I highly recommend this book.
Danielle Casavant
I thought the story would be much more about the spying and a lot less about the history of leprosy. It was told in a very dry manner and not overly engaging. Rather journalistic rather than telling a compelling story.
Apr 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Fascinating story. I wish the author had spent less time writing about the U.S. army in the Philippines and more time on Joey's later life. It also details the extraordinary callousness of the U.S. immigration service even back in the 1950's and 60's.
May 04, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An amazing story of a little-known war hero. What a life! That said, I enjoyed the story more than the rather dry writing.
Nov 12, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Learned a lot about World War II in the Philippines.
Joey Guerrero Leaumax was a remarkable woman and I enjoyed reading her story. However. I have to say that she was still something of an enigma to me after I finished this book.

The leper part was pretty fascinating as Joey's experience with Hansen's Disease/aka leprosy was part of a broader transformation in the treatment of this disease and societal attitudes toward those suffering from it. As happened to many in the past, Joey was forced to leave her family and live in institutions for lepers,
Nov 30, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I am glad that I read Ben Montgomery's second book. It is a difficult task to tell the story of someone who does not necessarily want their story told. This does not feel like a personal story; it reads more
like WWII/and it's aftermath nonfiction. It is also an expose on Leprosy treatment around the world and in America. I read the novel "M'olakai" this year which is about a leper colony in Hawaii and the treatment of patients. It is still shocking to me the treatment and isolation that these
Jun 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Leper Spy by Ben Montgomery A tragic historical and biographical story of Josefina Guerrero, a Philippine who spied for the US and Australia against the Japanese during WWII specifically during the Bataan Death March and US victory. She uses her disease, leprosy, horrifying to the Japanese, to move through the war zone with hidden maps and communications, still at great risk. She endures great sacrifices and loses her family in the process. The author tells a good tale individually for ...more
Jan 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was a great story of one person who was a leper go out of her way to become a spy to he Americans in the Phillipines because of her leprosy . She received the Medal of Freedom. She was finally moved to Carville in America eventually she was given citizenship. I knew nothing of this woman but glad I read her story
Jan 24, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent researched book
Lucy Meeker
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Ben grew up in Oklahoma and wanted to be a farmer before he got into journalism at Arkansas Tech University, where he played defensive back for the football team, the Wonder Boys. He worked for the Courier in Russellville, Ark., the Standard-Times in San Angelo, Texas, the Times Herald-Record in New York's Hudson River Valley and the Tampa Tribune before joining the Tampa Bay Times, Florida's ...more