|The first book I've completed for the 2015 Reading Challenge.|
As others in our Facebook group have commented, the 2015 reading challenge is already giving us rewards. I, for one, have read a fantastic book that I certainly would not have read if it were not for this friendly bit of peer pressure/rivalry.
Author: Laura Hillenbrand
Pages: 457 (including endnotes)
My rating: ★ ★ ★ ★ ☆
Category for the challenge: either new author or book I already have at home but haven't read.
There are two reasons why I would likely not have read this book:
- I'm more into fiction than non-fiction, particularly when it comes to war stories.
- It has been a very, very long time since I read a hard-copy book.
The hardest parts of the story to read -- and, not surprisingly, the parts of the book that made it impossible to put down -- concern the abuses Louie experienced in camp at the hands of Mutsuhiro Watanabe, nicknamed "the Bird," the sadistic sergeant who got off on physically tormenting the prisoners, especially the officers, and most particularly Louie.
[The Bird] derived another pleasure from violence. According to Hatto [another POW], Watanabe was a sexual sadist, freely admitting that beating the prisoners brought him to climax. "He did enjoy hurting POWs," wrote Hatto. "He was satisfying his sexual desire by hurting them."Great. A prison guard who is a sexual sadist. What could possibly go wrong?
Some thirty percent of Americans in Japanese POW camps died. Compare that to approximately one percent mortality rate in European POW camps. This, in part, is because there was an official Japanese "kill-all" policy that directed camp commanders to slaughter every last prisoner rather than allow any repatriation. But it is also because the treatment of these prisoners was beyond hellish.
Hillenbrand's strength as a writer is that she manages to convey all of this without being maudlin or "tabloid" about it. Her research (with copious citations for her sources and an index) would make this a compelling history text book.
|Louie's reunion with his mother |
Louie's post-war survival is a story in itself, and I am heartily glad that Hillenbrand included it in the book.
I will say that I found the book difficult to "get into" at first and that I did not enjoy reading a "hard copy" book after many years of reading on a Kindle. Between the heft of the book and the arthritis in my hands, I found it painful to read for long, and I couldn't read in bed without disturbing Stephen.. The rest of the books on the list will likely be electronic.
Stay tuned to find out what book I read next. (I haven't decided yet; I have a bunch of samples on my Kindle and will see what strikes my fancy!)
Does this sound like a book that you would like to read?