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Michael Pritchard's delivery encompasses the campfire setting of Steele's Montana youth equally as well as the General Masaharu Homma's addresses to his Japanese troops, or the harrowing descriptions of the execution of surrendered captives. Pritchard's audiobook credits include titles by Zane Grey, Tom Clancy, and numerous works on American history, and it's not hard to see why: his dust-dry voice has a no-nonsense authority, an unforced sturdiness that honors the book's military milieu without ever being starchy or dull.
Tears in the Darkness stands apart from many military histories through the pungency of its writing: the steaming jungle, agonising thirsts, and overwhelming desperation are conveyed with a color that is more common to novels than history texts. However, the main achievement of the book is the cohesion of its myriad fragments: we get an appraisal of US military strategy in the Southwest Pacific, Filipino children running through Japanese soldiers' legs to get banana-leaves and handfuls of rice to their starving fathers, one survivor's agonisingly slow crawl to safety from under the corpses of executed captives. And throughout, the book's hold never flags, due as much to Pritchard's powerful yet restrained narration as to the sense of unflinching truth. Dafydd Phillips
Their protagonist, Ben Steele, is a figure out of Hemingway: a young cowboy turned sketch artist from Montana who joined the army to see the world. Juxtaposed against Steele's story and the sobering tale of the Death March and its aftermath is the story of a number of Japanese soldiers. The result is an altogether new and original World War II book: it exposes the myths of military heroism as shallow and inadequate; and it makes clear, with great literary and human power, that war causes suffering for people on all sides.
Customer ReviewsMost Helpful
By Douglas on 09-08-09
This is what every history book should be and must be praised for several reasons. To begin, it brings to light an often neglected horror of WWII: The Death March On Baatan. Like Iris Chang's book, The Rape Of Nanking, the Normans give us the lives and sufferings of people who should never be left in the shadows of historical narrative. Secondly, this is a hugely well-written book! This obviously deeply-researched volume absolutely brings this story to life. I have gone through it like I did James Stewart's MANHUNT: THE TWELVE DAY SEARCH FOR LINCOLN'S KILLER, and for the same reason. Both tell history through the eyes and stories of those who lived it in incredible detail with rich, poetic touches. This is a must read!!!
10 of 10 people found this review helpful
By 9S on 08-15-09
Riveting and heartbreaking
This chilling book reveals the barbaric treatment of allied soldiers by the Japanese army in WW2. The level of cruelty is as shocking as anything perpatrated by the Nazis in Europe. Some scenes of torture and murder caused me to cringe. That any of the soldiers survived is a testament to the will to live, as well as the kindness of fellow soldier's. This is a story of humanity-the loss of it by the Japanese, and the retention of it by those seemingly without hope.
Michael Pritchard did his usual superb job of narrating.
21 of 22 people found this review helpful