The Best Books On The Pacific Theater Of World War II

The Books I Picked & Why

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

By Laura Hillenbrand

Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption

Why this book?

We’ve become accustomed to think of Americans as the bad guys in the Pacific War, because of the Japanese American internment camps and the atomic bombs. But Hillenbrand’s brilliantly accessible book finally allowed us to recall the unimaginable cruelties inflicted on Allied POWs by the Japanese Imperial Army. Compared to their counterparts imprisoned by the Germans, Allied survivors of Japanese POW camps experienced a much higher rate of alcoholism, early death, and even suicide post-war. Louis Zamperini’s story exhibits this quite painfully.


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Song of Survival: Women Interned

By Helen Colijn

Song of Survival: Women Interned

Why this book?

A little-known aspect of the Pacific War was the imprisonment of Allied civilians. While these Japanese-run prison camps were not deliberate death machines, as were the Nazi-run concentration camps, large numbers of women and children died of starvation and disease there, or at least had their health permanently ruined. Many stories would come out of these camps, both horrific and inspiring. Perhaps the most brilliantly creative story of the latter category was the vocal orchestra, a group of imprisoned women who sought to recreate symphonic music with their voices. Colijn’s memoir was made into the film, Paradise Road.


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We Band of Angels: The Untold Story of the American Women Trapped on Bataan

By Elizabeth M. Norman

We Band of Angels: The Untold Story of the American Women Trapped on Bataan

Why this book?

The titular angels were military and civilian nurses who nursed wounded Americans and Filipinos during the Battle of Bataan and the siege of Corregidor. After the fighters finally surrendered to the Japanese, their nurses were imprisoned with Allied civilians for three and one-half years. They were phenomenally strong, courageous women in impossible circumstances and their story is remarkable.


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I Saw The Fall Of The Philippines

By Carlos P. Romulo

I Saw The Fall Of The Philippines

Why this book?

The Philippine resistance of WWII was, in my opinion, the most admirable resistance organization of the war, whether European or Pacific. In fact, resistance among the Philippine people was so widespread, that the Japanese occupiers were almost correct in assuming any civilian they encountered was a resister on some level. Carlos Romulo, a Philippine aide de camp to General MacArthur and a hero to his countrymen, gives his personal account of the war in this excellent memoir.


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Japan at War: An Oral History

By Haruko Taya Cook, Theodore F. Cook

Japan at War: An Oral History

Why this book?

Oral histories are a powerful way to bring the reader back into a specific time and place through firsthand accounts, and this book is both fascinating and necessary in order to understand the thoughts, feelings, and actions of a variety of Japanese people during the fascist takeover of their nation and the war that followed.


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