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Rescue at Los Baņos: The Most Daring Prison Camp Raid of World War II    by Bruce Henderson order for
Rescue at Los Baņos
by Bruce Henderson
Order:  USA  Can
William Morrow, 2015 (2015)
Hardcover, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Bob Walch

When the Japanese invaded the Philippines at the outset of World War II, American civilians were rounded up and sent to prison camps. As one can imagine, spending the war years in such a facility was not a pleasant experience. As the war in the Pacific was grinding to a close, one of the most daring rescues of the conflict occurred when people detained in the prison camp at Los Baņos were rescued.

Rescue at Los Baņos: The Most Daring Prison Camp Raid of World War II is an account of what General Colin Powell has called a 'textbook operation for all ages and all armies'.

With a U.S. victory all but assured, conditions in the camp became even more intolerable and precarious. If a rescue attempt weren't launched, it was feared the death toll would go much higher than it already was. That's when General Douglas MacArthur charged the 11th Airborne with the mission of freeing the men, women and children who were still behind enemy lines at the time.

In a dangerous race against the clock, a group of young soldiers and Filipino guerrillas were the heroes of an attack that included air, land and sea forces that swept in during darkness to save the prisoners. With a Japanese infantry division of ten thousand stationed near the camp, the timing had to be perfect and the planning flawless or the loss of life would have been catastrophic.

This captivating narrative told through the eyes of the surviving prisoners and their rescuers not only offers a picture of life in the internment camp but also the planning and delicate operations that made the rescue operation a success.

As Henderson explains, 'The rest of the world saw little in their hometown newspapers about the triumph in the Philippines ... The lack of newspaper headlines about the prison camp raid was not a case of wartime censorship ... For on February 23, 1945, the same day as the raid, a combat photographer named Joe Rosenthal snapped an image of five soon-to-be-famous U.S. Marines raising the Stars and Stripes atop Mount Suribachi at a place called Iwo Jima.'

This detailed account of the Los Baņos rescue will now make far more history buffs aware of that other important event that occurred on March 23, 1945, and honor the soldiers and civilians who risked their lives to make it happen.

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