Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath” as Want to Read:
Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

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

4.19  ·  Rating details ·  2,650 ratings  ·  319 reviews
Tears in the Darkness is an altogether new look at World War II that exposes the myths of war and shows the extent of suffering and loss on both sides.

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
Paperback, 463 pages
Published March 2nd 2010 by Picador USA (first published January 1st 1992)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Tears in the Darkness, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Tears in the Darkness

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.19  · 
Rating details
 ·  2,650 ratings  ·  319 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath
Mar 31, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My knowledge of the WW2 waged in the South-East Asia is general, based mainly on some films or documentaries. I requested this book after reading the latest John Grisham’s novel as I felt I wanted to learn more. The Tears in the Darkness is a thorough analysis of the war and the surrender of the American and the Filipino forces and the atrocities that were committed against them after the surrender. And yet it offers more. The Authors try to explain the Japanese mentality regarding the military ...more
Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath is written both by Michael Norman and his wife Elizabeth M. Norman. It seems the two have worked together as a team. I will soon be reading Elizabeth's book We Band of Angels: The Untold Story of American Nurses Trapped on Bataan by the Japanese, not because what I have just completed was insufficient, but because their book is so well written. Given the book's dark tone and seriousness, to immediately want more says a ...more
Jan 04, 2010 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
Jill Hutchinson
In early 1942 the Japanese Army invaded the Philippines, landing on the largest island of Luzon. The Allies (Americans and Filipinos) under the command of Douglas MacArthur were less than prepared for the onslaught and were driven down to the southern peninsula of Bataan. MacArthur left his army under the supervision of Jonathan Wainwright and fled to Australia with his famous statement "I shall return". Without food, rampant with disease, and dying by the thousands, the Americans/Filipinos (72, ...more
Jul 02, 2009 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
John Wagner
Jul 29, 2013 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
Feb 13, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Visceral and shocking.

This book is such an important read and an absolute testament to the overall strength of the human spirit.

Written from both American and Japanese perspectives, I found it unique and very well researched. An incredible story that will leave you speechless.
A must read for history buffs.
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
Scott Archer
Mar 07, 2010 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
Lee Ann
Jul 07, 2010 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
Jun 29, 2010 rated it it was ok
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
Nov 20, 2009 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
David Corleto-Bales
Mar 09, 2010 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
May 17, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
While reading Unbroken by Laura Hillenbrand I became interested in the Bataan Death March of WWII. I had heard about it growing up. My uncle was a Death March survivor. I was told the ordeal had changed him. He was not the same man who had left for war. After reading Tears in the Darkness I understand why. The Death March and the events after, forever changed the men and women serving in Philippians during WWII.
Along with the story of the Bataan peninsula, the authors followed the stories of oth
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If ever you come across a person who wonders why we stand for our flag, please do hand them a copy of this book. What went on during this death march was so appalling that oftentimes I found myself unable to continue, to turn a page, or to find in my heart and mind a way to comprehend the vile cruelty displayed to these American and Filipino soldiers and non combatants. Sometimes I found myself crying reading of the agony, the atrocities that the Japanese stationed in the Philippines inflicted o ...more
Mar 21, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Lisa by: KD
Shelves: gift, usa, c21st, history, 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
K.D. Absolutely
Sep 24, 2009 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
I haven't figured out, stars-wise, how I feel yet about this title. It's a bit strange, but I don't feel like it lived up to it's potential, writing-wise, though it offered up some interesting points to ponder.

The Normans had obviously done a lot of research, but I feel like the title and the write-up led me to expect two different books. The title indicated an overall perspective of the Death March and its participants, with perhaps equal weight to the march and the aftermath. The write-up led
Jun 29, 2013 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
Aug 29, 2010 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
Dec 07, 2009 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
Aug 01, 2009 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
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.
Jul 22, 2009 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.
Jun 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-ii
“Tears in the Darkness: The Story of the Bataan Death March and Its Aftermath” by Michael and Elizabeth Norman was an engaging read. Right when you think you’ve read about most of the major themes of World War II you come across another. For me, it was the Bataan Death March. I had heard of it but never read about it. After reading this tale, I suspect the reason I never read about it is that so many other supposedly more heroic stories grabbed the headlines. Writers didn’t focus too much on wha ...more
Aditya Surti
Jul 23, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: world-war-2
An interesting study on Japanese War Crimes, the Bataan Death March and more importantly a miscarriage of justice and abuse of legal authority as it relates to the infamous Tokyo Trials. So Japan may not have been a signatory to the Geneva Convention on treatment of Prisoners of War and that may have given them the authority to mistreat the American POWs. When Japan surrendered, Japan's military personnel became the Allies' POW. Rather than conducting the theatrics of a sham trial and trying to ...more
Jul 01, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: non-fiction
Really an excellent account of not only the Bataan Death March, but of the battle before the surrender of Bataan and the subsequent years of imprisonment for so many US and Filipino soldiers. The authors used extensive interviews with survivors as well as diaries, government documents, and other primary sources to back up the oral accounts. Really excellent research. My only complaint here (and why I didn't give it 5 stars) is the lack of Japanese perspective. They interviewed quite a few Japane ...more
Feb 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent book!!! It not only shares the story of Bataan Death March survivor Ben Steele, but also shares stories from some of Japanese Soldiers....that did not want to abuse the POWs. Was also amazed at the insight of how the tribunals for war crimes in Tokyo were basically a kangaroo court. Being a WW II history Dad served in the US Navy in WW II...the “justice” for the Japanese general in charge of the units that invaded the Philippines, General Homma, was fired by his higher ups bec ...more
Al Berry
Dec 06, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
So much better than Bill Sloan’s book on the same topic; the book deals not just with the American view but also a Japanese perspective; including General Homma’s Trial.

Again this books shows how miserably McArthur defensed the Philippines ; to a far greater extent than Sloan’s book. No General Lincoln ever fired did a worse job.

Obviously different individuals are followed so if you are very interested in the topic; there is a place for this and Sloan’s book; but this is the better one by far.
Apr 16, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, war, history
A well done history of the treatment of American POW's during the Japanese occupation of the Philippines during World War II. The story is told through the eyes of a Montana Army Air Corpsman named Ben Steele. This book is somewhat unique in that it also recounts parts of the story through the eyes of the Japanese occupiers. A word of caution, as you should expect due to the subject, the violence, sickness, and starvation are horrific, so be prepared. You can get more of an idea of the book from ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • Ship of Ghosts: The Story of the USS Houston, FDR's Legendary Lost Cruiser, and the Epic Saga of Her Survivors
  • We Band of Angels: The Untold Story of American Nurses Trapped on Bataan by the Japanese
  • The Longest Winter: The Battle of the Bulge and the Epic Story of World War II's Most Decorated Platoon
  • In Harm's Way: The Sinking of the USS Indianapolis and the Extraordinary Story of Its Survivors
  • Ghost Soldiers: The Epic Account of World War II's Greatest Rescue Mission
  • The Jersey Brothers: A Missing Naval Officer in the Pacific and His Family's Quest to Bring Him Home
  • Code Talker: The First and Only Memoir By One of the Original Navajo Code Talkers of WWII
  • Seven Miracles That Saved America: Why They Matter and Why We Should Have Hope
  • Deadliest Enemy: Our War Against Killer Germs
  • Islands of the Damned: A Marine at War in the Pacific
  • The Queen: The Forgotten Life Behind an American Myth
  • Masters of the Air: America's Bomber Boys Who Fought the Air War Against Nazi Germany
  • American Ulysses: A Life of Ulysses S. Grant
  • Crime in Progress: Inside the Steele Dossier and the Fusion GPS Investigation of Donald Trump
  • The Half-Life of Marie Curie
  • The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara
  • Citizens of London: The Americans who Stood with Britain in its Darkest, Finest Hour
  • All the Way: My Life in Four Quarters
See similar books…
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

Related Articles

In these strange days of quarantine and isolation, books can be a mode of transport. We may have to stay home and stay still, but through t...
50 likes · 33 comments
“A holy war and a fight for survival rolled into one and draped with a cloak called honor.” 0 likes
More quotes…