Tuesday, September 20, 2016

Book Review: Women Heroes of World War II—the Pacific Theater

Book Description:
Glamorous American singer Claire Phillips opened a nightclub in manila, using the earnings to secretly feed starving American POWs. She also began working as a spy, chatting up Japanese military men and passing their secrets along to local guerrilla resistance fighters. Australian Army nurse Vivian Bullwinkel, stationed in Singapore, then shipwrecked in the the Dutch East Indies, became the sole survivor of a horrible massacre by Japanese soliders. She hid for days, tending to a seriously wounded British soldier while wounded herself. Humanitarian Elizabeth Choy lived the rest of her life hating war, though not her tormentors, after enduring six months of starvation and torture by the Japanese military police.

In these pages, readers will meet these and other courageous women and girls who risked their lives through their involvement in the Pacific Theater of Operations during World War II. Fifteen suspense-filled stories unfold across China, Japan, Malaya, Singapore, the Dutch East Indies, and the Philippines, providing an inspiring reminder of womens' and girls' refusal to sit on the sidelines around the world and throughout history.

These women—whose stories span 1932 to 1945, the last year of the war—served in dangerous roles as spies, medics, journalists, resisters, and saboteurs. Seven of them were captured and imprisoned by the Japanese, enduring brutal conditions. Author Kathryn J. Atwood provides appropriate context and framing for teens 14 and up to grapple with these harsh realities of war. Discussion questions and a guide for further study assist readers and educators in learning about this important and often neglected period of history.

About the Author:
Kathryn J. Atwood is the author of Women Heroes of World War I and Women Heroes of World War II and the editor of Code Name Pauline: Memoirs of a World War II Special Agent. She has contributed to The Historian; War, Literature, and the Arts; and the collections Des Plaines River Anthology and Holocaust Heroes: Fierce Females. Visit her online at www.kathrynatwood.com.

My Thoughts:

The author arranged to have a copy of her book sent to me to review (Thank you, Kathryn!) and I can’t begin to tell you how much I learned. My knowledge of Japan, China, and the Pacific Theater was limited. I read “Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes” when I was eight, studied Japan in the third grade, and heard of the bombing of Pearl Harbor – aside from that I was clueless about Japanese history and how their fascism developed. “Women Heroes of WWII – the Pacific Theater” not only gives a short history lesson, it delves into how Japan went astray and how after the war they were given a pass, unlike Germany. There are fifteen different biographies of women, from journalists to spies to children who were witnesses. Many risked their lives to do what was right. One of the more heart wrenching stories was of a young teenager who was forced to become a “comfort woman” and how years later she came forward to speak of her experiences. While the accounts of some of the ladies in the book are harrowing, girls of all ages need to read this. It is a part of history that we have forgotten and must remember. So I highly recommend this book, and once more thank the author for sending it to me.  

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