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The Jersey Brothers: A Missing Naval Officer in the Pacific and His Family's Quest to Bring Him Home

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The extraordinary, real-life adventure of three brothers at the center of the most dramatic turning points of World War II and their mad race to change history—and save one of their own.

They are three brothers, all Navy men, who end up coincidentally and extraordinarily at the epicenter of three of the war’s most crucial moments. Bill is picked by Roosevelt to run his first Map Room in Washington. Benny is the gunnery and anti-aircraft officer on the USS Enterprise, one of the only carriers to escape Pearl Harbor and by the end of 1942 the last one left in the Pacific to defend against the Japanese. Barton, the youngest and least distinguished of the three, is shuffled off to the Navy Supply Corps because his mother wants him out of harm’s way. But this protection plan backfires when Barton is sent to the Philippines and listed as missing-in-action after a Japanese attack. Now it is up to Bill and Benny to find and rescue him.

Based on ten years of research drawn from archives around the world, interviews with fellow shipmates and POWs, and primary sources including diaries, unpublished memoirs, and letters half-forgotten in basements, The Jersey Brothers is a remarkable story of agony and triumph—from the home front to Roosevelt’s White House, and Pearl Harbor to Midway and Bataan. It is the story, written with intimate, novelistic detail, of an ordinary young man who shows extraordinary courage as the Japanese do everything short of killing him. And it is, above all, a story of brotherly love: of three men finding their loyalty to each other tested under the tortures of war—and knowing that their success or failure to save their youngest brother will shape their family forever.

589 pages, Hardcover

First published May 9, 2017

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Sally Mott Freeman

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 283 reviews
Profile Image for Brian.
672 reviews315 followers
September 28, 2020
“Tales of faith, sacrifice, generosity, and persistence in the face of seemingly hopeless odds.”

“The Jersey Brothers” is a well-researched true story, a family saga that puts a human face on the nuclear family, and what war does to our most basic human connections, our siblings and parents. I appreciated the fact that this book starts with the particular, the Mott family, and brothers (Bill, Benny, and Barton) and 1 sister serving in the navy during WW II and thru them illuminates the larger aspects of the time. I also appreciated the almost exclusive focus on the Pacific theater of the war, an aspect of WW II that seems to get short shrift in a lot of popular histories.
The author, Sally Mott Freeman, is the daughter of one of the above mentioned brothers, and she did one heck of a job finding a myriad of collaborative sources to flesh out the tale. Besides being a good family and war story, “The Jersey Brothers” is also a pretty decent history of some of the pivotal moments in the Pacific war. I recently saw the 2019 film “Midway”, not a bad film by the way, and almost everything in the film (itself a pretty decent history) was touched upon in this book. This text also illuminates a side of Douglas MacArthur that a lot of histories ignore.
The chapter “Final Hours” is absolutely horrific. The atrocities of the Japanese during WW II can be forgiven, but they should never be forgotten. The deprivations and litany of horrors the POWs held in the Philippines endured, if possible, became even worse in the last year of the war in the Pacific. It is not lighthearted reading.
As any decent book about WW II does to me, “The Jersey Brothers” has made me once again in awe of a generation that despite its humanity and weaknesses seems to be a cut above those generations that have followed it.
Profile Image for Karen.
737 reviews75 followers
February 24, 2017
THE JERSEY BROTHERS: A Missing Naval Officer in the Pacific and His Family's Quest to Bring Him Home. BY SALLY MOTT FREEMAN

This stunning accomplished memoir is written by the daughter Bill Mott, who was the middle brother that comprise who The Jersey Brothers are. The Jersey brother's are Benny Mott, Bill Mott and Arthur Barton Cross, Jr. This is the story of brotherly love, honor, the quest to bring Barton home. A memoir so epic in scope drawn on ten years of research culled from sources all over the world. It includes information from diaries, interviews with the brother's former shipmates, unpublished memoirs and personal letters. It's authenticity is breathtaking, accurately based on facts, but reads like a fast paced story of three brother's and their harrowing service to this country.

Bill Mott, the author's father, was working at the Office of Navel Intelligence in Washington. He oversaw FDR's Map room located in the White House. FDR got the idea of having this room by a visit from Winston Churchill who had his own war room where he lived in his house. FDR emphasized with Bill over letters Bill had received inquiring over Barton's missing status. Bill was placed in charge of all top secret material that was received, circulated and stored among many other duties.

What stands out for me is that in later years Bill Mott was consulted by President Truman to give an estimation over how many American lives would be lost if the United States invaded Japan. President Truman relied on Bill Mott's estimated 600,000 of U.S. lives lost in making his decision over whether he did the right thing over dropping the bomb over Japan. What also stands out to me is how cruel war is and this family's relentless quest to find Barton.

What I didn't know was that as Barton lay injured from shrapnel wounds to his feet and legs that were not healing, is the circumstances of how Barton and other Navy wounded were left behind. According to this author the wounded were the only military still in Manilla. Even more shocking is that on late December 31, an order from General MacArthur came through that all ARMY wounded, but not NAVY wounded were immediately taken to Pier 7 and loaded onto a Red Cross ship. the SS Mactan and transported to Australia. What about the wounded Navy? Why couldn't they be transported to the ship and transported at the same time? Unluckily for Barton he was one of many of the wounded Navy abandoned. This happened before the Japanese invaded and took over Manilla.

Back on December 8, Benny a gunnery and anti-aircraft carrier arrived in Pearl Harbor to see the death and destruction. Benny was on the USS Enterprise an aircraft carrier that was to witness trapped men in a capsized ship that were trapped and couldn't get out.

Sally Mott Freeman has written a haunting quest to find out what happened to Barton. Her writing is descriptive and spare and she doesn't leave out any details. This work was at times heartbreaking to read, but it also triumphs and shines with the brotherly love of the Jersey Boys. I hope this book reaches the wide audience that it deserves. For a debut memoir and writer Sally Mott Freeman has written a BRILLIANT historical portrait. It is a POWERFUL Family saga and she should be very proud of her family heritage. This book, I hope joins the ranks with "Saving Private Ryan."

Profile Image for Steven Z..
567 reviews112 followers
May 22, 2017
Sally Mott Freeman’s first book, THE JERSEY BROTHERS: A MISSING NAVAL OFFICER IN THE PACIFIC AND HIS FAMILY’S QUEST TO BRING HIM HOME is an interesting study in family dynamics and how military strategy and policy was implemented during World War II. The somewhat dysfunctional family is made up of its matriarch Helen Cross, her second husband Arthur, and their three sons and one daughter. The story revolves around the experiences of the sons, the first two of which are children of Helen and her first husband. The sons are Benny Mott, an officer on the USS Enterprise, a graduate of Annapolis, who witnessed a great deal of action during four years of combat duty in the Pacific; William (Bill) Mott, also a graduate of Annapolis, plagued by weak eye sight who winds up as the head of the White House Map Room where he observes and distributes war information to the Franklin D. Roosevelt and military leaders; lastly, Barton Cross, the son of Helen and Arthur who does not measure up to the Annapolis type, enlists and becomes a prisoner of war taken by the Japanese in the Philippines.

By carefully examining the Mott/Cross family, Freeman is able to analyze its dynamic, in addition to the strategy pursued in the Pacific War. Her approach is unique and provides an alternative means of studying the plight of American POWs in the Pacific, the politics in Washington and General Douglas MacArthur’s command, how military decisions were reached, and the Anglo-American relationship. However important the war is, it is the family that dominates the story. Helen is an overprotective mother who obsesses over her third son, Barton who she views as evidence of a strong marriage after her first was a failure. Barton is the favorite, and the pressure from his mother at times is overbearing. Her other sons seek her love and attention and make do with how she parses it out. What is fascinating is that the two elder brothers do not seem to resent their younger brother and will do anything to support him. The key element in the narrative is how family members react to the seizure of Barton by the Japanese and how they go about coping with wartime information that is directly related to his situation. The entire family is concerned with what Barton is going through and how they can assist him, and perhaps facilitate his quest for freedom.

Helen’s psyche is on everyone’s mind throughout the book. Helen is the type of “helicopter” parent who will write the commandant of Annapolis as Barton withdraws from that institution, she will also write President Roosevelt, and military commanders. Further, when Bill learns of the treatment of the POWs from a number of escapees, he withholds the information from his mother as long as he can, not to upset her.

The strength of the book is how Freeman alternates chapters taking the reader back and forth from the USS Enterprise through the experiences of Benny as it leaves Pearl Harbor, participates on the “Doolittle Raid” on Tokyo, finds itself in the midst of the Battle of Midway, the Battle of Guadalcanal, and the taking of Saipan. Next, we are taken inside the White House as Bill witnesses the decisions being made that effect the conduct of the war, or later when he becomes the Flag Officer aboard the USS Rocky Mount. The plight of American POWs is described in detail including the Bataan Death March, and a number of other forced marches as American soldiers are moved from one prison cite to the next. What is particularly disturbing is how unmarked Japanese ships transporting US POWs were sunk by American planes during the last year of the war. In addition, Freeman focuses on the inhuman treatment of the POWs and how they reacted, and why some survived. Another strength is her discussion of the planning and actual invasions of Iwo Jima and Okinawa, two battles that did not go the way military authorities had hoped. Heavy casualties were predicted, but not to the level that eventually resulted. In part the problem was the Japanese use of Kamikaze pilots that invasion planners could find no solution to counteract.

The major wartime personalities are integrated throughout. MacArthur is dealt with in detail. Admiral “Bull” Halsey, a man who was beloved by his men and was a strategic genius. President Roosevelt is presented as at times a warm and sympathetic leader, but also a harsh decision maker dealing with the realities of war. Other important characters include Admiral Richmond Kelley Turner who commanded the Joint Expeditionary Task Force, known as Operation Forager designed to defeat Japan in 1944, a command and strategy larger than and as complex as the Normandy invasion; Steve Mellnick and William Dyees who escaped the Davao Penal Colony and along with Filipino guerillas sought to launch a rescue mission of the 2000 POWs left behind, as well as a host of other major historical figures.

Importantly, Freeman goes into depth in presenting the jurisdictional battles between the army and navy for control of the Pacific Theater which was rooted in the struggle between Admiral Nimitz and General MacArthur. MacArthur does not fare well in the narrative as Freeman portrays the Pacific Army Commander as a self-serving egoist who only cared about his own place in history. This characterization is quite accurate especially when discussing the strategy to invade the Japanese home islands, which MacArthur favored, or employ a blockade and massive bombing to save the lives of American GIs. It seemed whenever anything did not go as planned, instead of accepting any responsibility, MacArthur blamed the Navy.

What is clear throughout the book is that Bill did his utmost to try and learn the plight of his brother. He traveled, wrote letters, and pressed friends, all in an attempt to learn the truth. The author, Bill’s daughter makes excellent use of the memories of family members, in addition to diaries and other documents. She has mined a tremendous amount of material and it is reflected in her strong narrative. Her investigation into what happened to her uncle provides insights into how families were forced to deal with their missing sons, and for far too many the grief that followed. Overall the book paints a fascinating portrait of a family’s plight during World War II. It may get bogged down in family details at the outset, but once Freeman takes up the wartime experiences of Helen’s three sons the reader will become immersed in the detail and the heroic nature of what they experience and the actions they take. The Cross/Mott brothers, were truly “a band of brothers,” and Freeman’s efforts reflect a strong effort for a first book!
Profile Image for Katie B.
1,229 reviews2,933 followers
July 17, 2017
This is the incredible and harrowing true story of a family's quest to find the answers to the whereabouts of the youngest son, Barton Cross. Barton, a part of the Navy's Supply Corps, was given orders to the Philippines, with the help of family connections, because it was deemed to be safer than other locations. Right after the bombing of Pearl Harbor, the Japanese attack the Philippines and Barton is listed as MIA. His brother Bill, who works in the top secret Map Room of the White House and works with FDR on a regular basis, is given the challenging task by his mother to find Barton and bring him home. Their brother Benny, the gunnery and anti-aircraft officer on the USS Enterprise, meanwhile is fighting to stay alive while fighting the Japanese. This is the story of a family that was determined to never give up on finding their loved one.

The author, the daughter of Bill, truly did a remarkable job with this book. You really feel the pain and anguish this family endured and it particularly comes clear with letters the mother wrote and her journal entries. And while the book certainly packs an emotional punch due to the family's search for answers, it also provides a valuable history lesson into the war fought in the Pacific. Both Bill and Benny due to their work assignments are a part of some pivotal and crucial moments during the war. This book really does a through job in showing what was going on in the Pacific during the war when most of the country and world was mainly focused on Europe.

This really is an incredible story and I would recommend it to anyone with an interest in World War 2.

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher but was under no obligation to post a review. All views expressed are my honest opinions.

Profile Image for Nissa.
440 reviews194 followers
June 2, 2017
Touching! I learned so much by reading this book. I am better versed with the European Theater side of WWII, so learning more about the Pacific Theater side of the war was interesting to me. A truly amazing story that was well researched and written. I recommend this book to anyone interested in WWII and naval war history.
1 review2 followers
May 23, 2017
If you like non-fiction written like a novel this book may appeal to you. I love learning history through storytelling and the author gave me great insight into the events in the Pacific during WW2 whilst she unfolded the poignant story of her relatives wartime experiences and the consequences of their actions. The book deserves a wide audience and is crying out to be made into a netflix-type series or hollywood blockbuster.
Profile Image for Henry.
593 reviews26 followers
August 18, 2020
An excellently written and meticulously researched true story of three brothers in the United States Navy during World War II. It s a deeply personal family story which is very moving, but at the same time one of the best histories of the War in the Pacific told through the eyes of the men who were there. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Yibbie.
1,049 reviews41 followers
August 23, 2017
I didn’t get very far into this book. I quit before I figured out how they were able to put the private thoughts of the Uncle they never met down on paper. I quite for my usual reason: foul language.
I received a free ARC of this book from NetGalley and Simon & Schuster.
747 reviews72 followers
February 1, 2017
Received as an ARC from the publisher. Excellent, well-researched; reads like fiction but it's all so true. Written by the niece of the three brothers. This is apparently her first book, and she's got one heck of a career ahead of her as a non-fiction author. This book won't be out until May 2017, but I can't wait for her next project! Besides learning about her uncles' military careers, you also gain insight into other military and government leaders: FDR, Truman, Churchill, MacArthur,Nimitz, Halsey, even Hirohito, and others. You learn about good military decisions and really bad ones. I learned about what was occurring on the South Pacific islands where my father was stationed during WWII because he seldom wanted to talk about any of it. And you learn about how ugly war can become.
June 4, 2017
Thrilling, wrenching, riveting story set in the Pacific theater of WWII and FDR's map room told by the daughter and niece of the three Jersey brothers of the title. The sufferings of the youngest brother, captured by the Japanese in the Philippines at the outset of the war, are difficult to read about, but the author has insured that her young uncle will never be forgotten. I read parts of the book several times, the writing was so good and the tale so moving. I also enjoyed the end notes documenting just how thoroughly researched and convincingly recreated this family history was.
Profile Image for Neil.
1,370 reviews8 followers
January 5, 2017
I received a free copy via Netgalley in exchange for a honest review.

A brilliant Memoir of three brothers and there journey through the Second World War.
This is a real page turner that reads more like a novel than a Memoir of the three brothers and their parents.
I cannot believe the research that must have been done by the author.

Profile Image for Lindsey Gandhi.
500 reviews140 followers
July 25, 2018
This is really a touching and inspiring book about three brothers and a war. What happened to Barton and any of the POWs is unfair and gut wrenching. The loyalty and determination his brothers showed in trying against all odds to find him is beautiful. This book took the author ten years to write. When you read it you will understand why. The amount of research she did and how she chronologically lays out the history is phenomenal. There's a lot about the war in this book that we didn't learn about in school. She gives a voice to those brave men who were taken as prisoners and to every man and woman who fought to bring them home.
Profile Image for Scott  Hitchcock.
779 reviews223 followers
June 13, 2019

Written by a daughter and niece of the brothers this covers various topics involving the three from working directly for FDR to being on the Enterprise to being a captive of the Japanese and being used as a human shield in the war at sea.
Profile Image for Casey Wheeler.
860 reviews32 followers
May 23, 2017
I received a free Kindle copy of The Jersey Brothers by Sally Mott Freeman courtesy of Net Galley and Simon and Schuster, the publisher. It was with the understanding that I would post a review to Net Galley, Goodreads, Amazon, Barnes and Noble and my history book review blog. I also posted it to my Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Google Plus pages.

I requested this book as I have read a great deal about the World War II and the description presented something that I had not read about. This is the first book by Sally Mott Freeman that I have read.

This book is well researched as I would expect with the daughter of one of the three main indiviudals as the author. It is also well written, engaging and reads at a fairly quick pace. The storyline is about the three Mott brothers , one a prisoner of war in the Phillipines, one on the aircraft carrier Enterprise and the other in Washington D.C., and their mother. The book revolves around trying to find out if the captured brother is alive and exactly where he is.

One of the side stories that I found particuarly interesting was the development of Franklin Roosevelt's map room which the author's father maintained during a good portion of the war. As with many other books on this time period, it points out that Douglas McArthur was a vainglorious, self centered individual.

I recommend this book to anyone who is interested in World War II and in particular novels about the individuals involved in the war who were not necessarily leaders in the conflict.
Profile Image for Christina Dudley.
Author 15 books103 followers
June 3, 2017
Wow. In this excellent, often unputdownable book, Sally Mott Freeman has done her research on both family history and WWII history in the Pacific.

The titular "Jersey Brothers" are Freeman's father and two uncles, serving in the Navy in different capacities. The youngest, Barton Cross, gets taken prisoner in the fall of the Philippines, and his fate obsesses the the whole family (except perhaps younger sister Rosemary) for the rest of the war. Barton's mother got on my nerves, with her favoritism of him and her propensity to bother very busy people (i.e., FDR and senators and Navy higher-ups, including her other two "dogmeat" sons) with Where's-Barton-What-Are-You-Doing-to-Rescue-Barton? letters. These people are trying to save the free world, lady! When daughter Rosemary said something about it all that Mom called "cold" in her diary, I would like to state for the record that I was squarely on Rosemary's side.

Anyway, the eyewitness accounts from the POW camps and the progress of the war in the Pacific were enthralling and the end of the book very moving. If you were gripped by UNBROKEN, this book is for you.
409 reviews16 followers
February 17, 2017
World War II is a favorite era for me; print or film. There are many wonderful authors bringing true and fictionalized tales of WWII to life. Mott Freeman joins the crowd with this debut work. To coin a phrase, she has a horse in this race seeing the three brothers are her family members. This is a big book, and it is well researched; but it reads more like fiction than a history text. That is what makes it stand out to me. Conversations, points of view, assumed opinions of the people in the story are believable. Three brothers, all Navy, are working in different aspects of the Pacific Theater. The family story becomes 'Saving Private Ryan-esque' when one is found to be missing-in-action in the Philippines. Her writing flows along smoothly, and the story is filled with a lot of facts and history. For fans of military history, this is a must read; her details of conflicts in the Pacific are great reading. The family saga storyline is powerful. Mott Freeman has a winner here, and should be very proud of her family heritage as well as her writing ability.
Profile Image for Russ.
234 reviews4 followers
June 14, 2018
An excellent story. It reminded me of Unbroken. The background is played out in Washington, D.C., battles in the Pacific, and the jungles of the Philippines. One brother in D.C., one on the USS Enterprise and one POW.

Bureaucratic idiocy - all the way from MacArthur down to guerrilla leaders. All with their own agendas, which in turn delayed rescue attempts of the POWs. Months and lives were lost due to their egocentric delusions of grandeur. No wonder their mother was so frustrated in her attempts to get answers.
Profile Image for Erin Miller.
Author 1 book4 followers
August 5, 2017
This is a phenomenal book, in part because of the characters' real-life experiences and in part because of Sally Freeman's fantastic writing style. For history lovers, the places and events witnessed by the Jersey Brothers are unparalleled. From FDR's war room, to the USS Enterprise and nearly every major Pacific battle and landing, to being one of the many remaining prisoners after the infamous escape from Davao prison camp, Benny, Bill, and Barton witnessed nearly everything that could be witnessed in the Pacific War. It's hard to believe it really happened that way.

Sally Freeman's writing style is riveting. Nothing highlights it more than the chapter when it is finally - finally! - revealed what happened to Barton. What's particularly amazing about that chapter (which is heartbreaking. I can't continue without saying how simply devastating the somewhat inevitable conclusion to Barton's journey is) is that it hits so suddenly. Freeman spends most of the book bouncing between the three brothers, with occasional trips to the major generals and admirals in the war to see the broader scope that they were living in. Then, in the last 150 pages or so, Barton's POV isn't shown. It simply stops after yet another life-threatening ordeal that he somehow has survived. Meanwhile, Benny and Bill's chapters are focused almost solely on - "What happened to Bart?" We, the readers, are thinking the same thing - "Where did Bart go?" It's an amazing way of putting us in the same situation the family was in - clueless and clinging to the bits and pieces we had, knowing that we are missing something important. It makes the moment where his story is finally told in full all the more poignant.

An important, moving, and engrossing book. One of the best I've read in a long time.
22 reviews1 follower
December 15, 2016
Advance Reading Copy,Simon & Schuster via NetGalley.

Those of us in the generation born to veterans of WW II-Baby Boomers-heard from the source stories of battles won and lost,bickering over favorite generals,pain,suffering and loss. Sally Mott Freeman's " The Jersy Brothers" is similar to that in that it is centered on her father and his two brothers. Exceptionally well written and meticulously researched, Freeman tells the tale of the brothers-all Navy men, well connected and fast risers during the chaos of the war years. Benny, the oldest was a gunnery officer on USS Enterprise, Bill, the author's father, was a liaison officer in the White House for the first years of the war and became familiar and friends with FDR,Mrs. Roosevelt and Winston Churchill. The third brother, Barton, a half brother to the elder two, was a supply officer in Manila and was captured by the Japanese when the city fell.
The central theme of the book is set when Barton is captured as his brothers and mother frantically try to find out where he is. Along with this narrative, Freeman adds a lot of detail of the rivalry between the Army and the Navy, the Navy mostly trying to keep MacArthur under control and to keep his meddling fingers from gaining control of Navy ships.
While the brothers are looking for Barton, the reader gets a very comprehensive study of the horrific treatment of American POW's.The Japanese saw surrender as dishonorable, and so tortured and killed prisoners at will .
The author paints an extraordinarily detailed and nuanced narrative of naval battles and the workings and role of carriers in the Pacific. Overall, the book is well paced,tight and riveting-it's hard to put down and should be a huge best seller.
Profile Image for Maureen.
697 reviews38 followers
December 23, 2017
Thank you to Goodreads for the opportunity to read and review this book. There is no more satisfying way to learn history than in the context of real people's lives. This was an amazing read. I've read a lot of WWII fiction, but this really is the icing on the cake. So many things to learn. My exposure to the Pacific Theater has not begun to compare to what I've read about Europe. I'd also grown up thinking that MacArthur was the greatest General to ever live; I had no idea of his missteps and ego-driven failings. FDR's Map Room was fascinating. I do have to say though that I found Helen Cross to be the most unsympathetic of persons. Vicious, superior, cold...just a few of the adjectives that come to mind (no offence to her family). FDR was a saint in the personal attention he gave her. But the story of these three brothers, their service, the ways their paths crossed and roles changed over the course of the war and their devotion to one another was extraordinary.
Profile Image for Jerry Kolwinska.
81 reviews6 followers
July 10, 2017
I really enjoyed this book. The author's personal connection to the three men around whom the story revolves makes for an intriguing mix.

I thought that the book created genuine suspense, saving the resolution to the very end. I was so taken by the story line, that I didn't look at the photos for fear that they might spoil the ending for me. The focus on the two brothers who were trying to find the third brother really added some dimensions to my understanding of WW2. The White House Map Room was a new development for me. The story line involving the USS Enterprise was fantastic. While I was familiar with much of the E's service in the war, having the perspective of an officer who was responsible for the the ship's antiaircraft batteries opened up a new avenue of interest for me - the ship itself vs the fighter and bomber squadrons that are the focus of many of the books about the ship.

If you are looking for a gripping biography, this one should fill your need.

152 reviews3 followers
May 1, 2017
This is a real life story of three brothers who played important roles in World War II and their attempts to save their youngest brother who became a P.O.W. This was a very eye-opening book that gave me unknown insight into events that occurred during W.W. II. It was interesting reading about the growth in character of the youngest brother during his incarceration and the way he became a role model to his other fellow P.O.W. friends. The mistakes made during the war that led to his incarceration were appalling. The love that the siblings had for the youngest brother was heart-warming and the way that they did everything in their power to rescue him was touching. If you want new insight into this war and events that shaped the men who fought in it then you will enjoy this book.

31 reviews
September 19, 2020
I received a copy of this book in a Goodreads Giveaway. Over 500 pages in length, it chronicles the family's search for Naval Officer Barton Cross, held captive in the Philippines by the Japanese during WWII. It also chronicles the war in the Pacific in the process. I found it enlightening, but way too detailed to hold my interest. Maybe for someone more immersed in WWII history would find it easier to get through. I was turned off by Barton's mother's attempts to control the investigation (in today's world I'd say she was a "helicopter mom") as well as the author's penchant for including quoted dialogue without citations which had to have been fictionalized since no one can remember conversations after 70+ years.
55 reviews4 followers
April 3, 2018
This is a tale of war. The detail and chronology of the Pacific Theater in this book is very impressive.
My father was a decorated fighter pilot of P-38s P-51 s in the Pacific. He fought at Rabaul Leyte,Eiashima and Okinawa. These were the ones I heard about. He took off from Guadalcanal for battles around New Guinea. As I read this book my thoughts were not far from my dad and where he was on every page. This book reunited me with him as I followed Bill and Benny trying to find Barton.
I hope Bill Mott went to his grave in peace. It was he not the vainglorious Douglas MacArthur who gave Truman the real projections of casualties if Japan was to be invaded and it was Bill who likely saved our bacon during the Cuban Missle Crisis when he recommended the naval quarantine rather than bombing Cuba like the hawkish Joint Chiefs wanted. He saved hundreds of thousands of lives.
That’s a real man.
You can find very well written reviews of this book on Goodreads. You will find them helpful. This was a personal reflection.
Thank you Sally Mott Freeman. You are great.
Profile Image for Christina.
222 reviews1 follower
August 21, 2021
Sally Freeman tells the story of WWII from the perspective of her father and his two brothers. Between the three of them, they pretty much saw every part of the Pacific theater, which is a part of WWII that I am very unfamiliar with. One brother was the head of FDR's map room in DC, one was a fairly high-ranking officer on the Enterprise, a ship which narrowly missed being bombed at Pearl Harbor and for the next two years was in on nearly every battle in the Pacific, and one was captured by the Japanese in the Philippines in December 1941 and spent the whole war as a POW. To say that the war in the Pacific was horrifying is a huge understatement. And it seems there are no words to describe the way the Japanese treated their prisoners of war.
Profile Image for Bruce Cook.
116 reviews1 follower
October 1, 2017
After reading a review of history books I bought this and Last Hope Island at the same time. I am giving both 5 stars. Like Last Hope Island, this gives an account of individual lives caught up in the Second World War. Three brothers from New Jersey. And all three played very significant parts in the war. They were all in the Navy. One was aboard the Enterprise before and during the first part of the war, right in the thick of the fighting, including close to Pearl Harbor when it was bombed by the Japanese. Another set up the map room in the White House and had daily contact with President Roosevelt, and then spent the latter part of the war with a command ship caught up in the thick of the fighting. The third, and the one around which the book is written, was injured in the Philippines and became of prisoner of the Japanese when the Japanese took over that country.

The book's central theme is what happened to this third brother while he was a prisoner of the Japanese and the efforts made by the other two brothers to get him home. It is written by the daughter of one of the three brothers. It is meticulously researched and it is very well written and flows together very nicely. The history of the Pacific War is woven into the tale of the brothers experiences and you get a good history of the Naval War in the Pacific as well as follow the experiences of these men. It also brings to light the plight of prisoners in the Philippines during the war, supposedly the lucky ones that survived the Bataan death march. But survival was far from guaranteed by surviving that march. Some escaped and some survived to the end of the war, but many lost their lives from the harsh treatment, from executions and even from friendly fire, when ships full of prisoners were torpedoed by the Americans - the ships were not marked in any way. In any event, I was greatly impressed by the writing, the organization and the personal stories of the Mott family, written by one of their own. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Dan S.
34 reviews4 followers
February 16, 2018
This was a very touching novel about 3 brothers, all in the US Navy and the ordeal of trying to get one of the brothers home who was a POW. The author did a great job helping you get to know the Cross brothers (Benny Bill and Barton) as well as the pain and suffering the parents went through with not knowing the fate of their son, Barton. Highly recommend
39 reviews
April 15, 2018
Very readable and intriguing true story of three brothers, naval officers embroiled in the Pacific War. It revealed to me details and insights into such things as Roosevelt's White House Map Room and the flow of info to and from the war theater; the inter-service conflict/politics of military strategy; the carrier Enterprise and its exploits/fame; POW atrocities by the Japanese in the Philippines and especially the bunging and arrogance of MacArthur. My mother's uncle was a sergeant in the U.S. Army and lost his life in the unnecessary Battle of Manila. The book is an epic family story within the immensity of WWII.
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