The best books about World War II POWs

Robert C. Daniels Author Of 1220 Days: The Story of U.S. Marine Edmond Babler and His Experiences in Japanese Prisoner of War Camps During World War II
By Robert C. Daniels

Who am I?

History has always been a strong part of me since I can remember. My heart has always laid in reading, studying, researching, and writing about it, and World War II history is a large part of that. When writing about World War II, I like to visit topics that relate to the everyday person, not well-known generals and admirals. I like to interview people about their experiences and write their stories, what they saw, lived through, witnessed. Both of my books are based upon this concept, how everyday people lived their lives during World War II.


I wrote...

1220 Days: The Story of U.S. Marine Edmond Babler and His Experiences in Japanese Prisoner of War Camps During World War II

By Robert C. Daniels,

Book cover of 1220 Days: The Story of U.S. Marine Edmond Babler and His Experiences in Japanese Prisoner of War Camps During World War II

What is my book about?

The true story of U.S. Marine Edmond Babler who was forced to surrender during the early days of the U.S. involvement in World War II and his experiences during his 1,220 days of brutal captivity in Japanese prisoner of war camps. Mostly transcribed from his own narrative, it is intended, in Ed’s own words, as “A true history of my struggle for survival in Japanese Prison Camps in the jungles of the Philippine Islands, on air-fields and a coal mine in Japan.”

The books I picked & why

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Surrender and Survival: The Experience of American Pow's in the Pacific 1941-1945

By E. Bartlett Kerr,

Book cover of Surrender and Survival: The Experience of American Pow's in the Pacific 1941-1945

Why this book?

Similar to my own book and used as a research document for it, Surrender and Survival contains a detailed account of Allied POWs in Japanese POW camps from the beginning of the war to its end and their repatriation back to their homelands. It covers many of the locations that Ed Babler was held during his captivity as well as describes the infamous Hell Ships that Ed and hundreds of other POWs were transported on from the Philippines to the Japanese Mainland Islands and elsewhere. In addition, it describes the concept of the Bushido Code, explaining why and how the average Japanese soldier was able to treat the POWs so horribly. I find it a very good read to understand why and how the POWs were so terribly treated.


Last Man Out: Glenn McDole, USMC, Survivor of the Palawan Massacre in World War II

By Bob Wilbanks,

Book cover of Last Man Out: Glenn McDole, USMC, Survivor of the Palawan Massacre in World War II

Why this book?

Last Man Out is the true account of a U.S. Marine who surrendered to the Japanese on the Philippine Island of Corregidor. I find this book and its account very interesting because Ed Babler was at the very same POW camp on the Island of Palawan during the time that Glenn McDole was and only escaped being murdered by the Japanese with the bulk of the rest of the Marines there due to having been injured and transferred off prior to the massacre. Last Man Out tells the harrowing account of the massacre and how McDole was able to escape, one of the very few to do so.


Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II's Most Dramatic Mission

By Hampton Sides,

Book cover of Ghost Soldiers: The Forgotten Epic Story of World War II's Most Dramatic Mission

Why this book?

I find Ghost Soldiers to be an excellent account of the rescue of Allied POWs, many held since the outset of the U.S. involvement in World War II, from the infamous Cabanatuan Japanese Prisoner of War Camp in central Luzon in the Philippines. Based upon interviews of those involved, it would be used as one of two true-to-life books to create the 2005 movie The Great Raid. This book has a strong place in my heart since Ed Babler was marched to this POW camp soon after surrendering on the offshore island of Corregidor and would spend at least three months there.


Hero of Bataan: The Story of General Wainwright

By Duane P. Schultz,

Book cover of Hero of Bataan: The Story of General Wainwright

Why this book?

The Hero of Bataan is an excellent book that tells the story not of General Douglas MacArthur, but General Jonathan Wainwright, the real hero of Bataan and Corregidor. It covers the battle of the Philippines at the outset of the U.S. involvement in World War II, the fall of the Philippines, and Wainwright’s experiences as a Japanese-held POW for the rest of the war. It describes that even as the senior U.S. POW in Japanese hands, Wainwright was treated as poorly as any other POW, as were other Allied general officers listed in the book. I find this an excellent, interesting, must-read to understand what really occurred in the Philippines during the early stages of the war and to those who survived the battles.


Stalag Wisconsin: Inside WWII Prisoner of War Camps

By Betty Cowley,

Book cover of Stalag Wisconsin: Inside WWII Prisoner of War Camps

Why this book?

Stalag Wisconsin is an excellent account of World War II POWs housed in Wisconsin. Growing up in Wisconsin, including in a town that had actually contained one of these POW camps, I had never heard of such a thing happening. My parents, aunts, uncles, and even teachers never mentioned the subject. Most interesting, at least to me, is that, as the book states, the local peoples treated the POWs with respect and kindness. This, I found most interesting as a juxtaposition to how both the Japanese and to an extent the Germans were at that very same time treating U.S. POWs held in their ‘care’.


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