| PURPOSE: The
following books are recommended as they are based
upon valid research, sufficient facts, and dialogue to give an
understanding of the POW experience. In addition, we list those books
that specifically give an overview of an area, combat zone, or issue of
dispute. Each is a significant contribution to understanding the POW
and Internee experience and each has been read and verified for
In addition, we recommend other books on individual camp web pages. These are books that faithfully describe the camp in question or the men directly affected by actions within those camps.
If you wish to purchase a book, we strongly urge that you support your nearby booksellers or direct from the publisher. Books may often be previewable at Amazon and Google Books.
Looking for POW-related books in Japanese? Visit the POW Research Network Japan book page.
Hong Kong Veterans Commemorative Assocation - books on Allied POWs
Books about Internment Camps In Asia During WWII - Books about civilian internees and camps
Recommended Reading - Linda Dahl's website
Hall's Manila Bibliography (PDF) - great collection of over 500 titles (courtesy of Roderick Hall, one of the authors of Manila Memories; see also the Philippine Scouts website for this and other book updates)
From Fukuoka Camp #1 website:
LA FORTE COLLECTION ADDITIONS (TXT file)
Also view this search at Amazon.com for all books relating to POWs (ranked by latest publication date). A broader search here at Google Books.
The Edge of Terror: The Heroic Story of American Families Trapped in the Japanese-occupied Philippines by Scott Walker
"Story of brave American civilians on Panay during WWII. Drawing on diaries, memoirs, family interviews, and military archives, Walker describes daily life during the occupation and the danger these Americans faced in their efforts to serve both God and country."
Valley of the Shadow: An Account of American POWs of the Japanese by Whitney H. Galbraith
"A historical narrative of Colonel Nicoll F. “Nick” Galbraith, U.S. Army, GSC, describing his three-and-a-half years as a prisoner of the Japanese, from the surrender of Corregidor in May, 1942, until August, 1945, when he and his fellow prisoners were rescued/released from Camp Hoten, in Mukden, Manchuria." Note from author: "Col. Galbraith was Gen. Jonathan M. Wainwright’s G-4 Logistics Staff officer during the Fall of the Philippines and surrender of Corregidor. This and several other first person accounts of senior officers of USFIL have recently been published which offer additional insights to American POWs in the Pacific. I have named them in my bibliography."
The Forgotten Squadron: The Story of B Squadron, 3rd The King's Own Hussars, in the Far East 1942-45 by Brian Williams
"My late father-in-law served with the British Army's 3rd Hussars and was captured in Java in 1942. I am writing a history of what happened to his unit after capture."
Bataan Survivor: A POW’s Account of Japanese Captivity in World War II by David L. Hardee; edited by Frank A. Blazich Jr. (2017)
"Personal memoir of Colonel David L. Hardee, first drafted at sea from April-May 1945 following his liberation from Japanese captivity... a thorough treatment of his time in the Philippines... carefully edited, illustrated and annotated to unlock the true depths of Hardee’s experience as a soldier, prisoner, and liberated survivor of the Pacific War."
Heroic Survivor: An Incredible Story of Survival in the World War II Pacific Theater by Captain Lowell E. Pursell USAF (Retired)
"We are letting you know that my father's book is now published as an Ebook. This is his story as he wrote it upon his return to the US in 1945. What we did was to write around his story putting together pictures and family memories. I am glad that after 71 years it is finally out as the book he wanted it to be and is no longer sitting in my basement. It is a true piece of the American history of WWII in the Pacific theater and the experiences of our POWs." --Virginia Pursell-Meyer
The Expendable Garrison by Warren Jorgenson (Tate Pub. 2015) - Good biography covering this Marine's time in the Midwest US, Shanghai, Corregidor and Hanawa.
Deadline: Captain Charlie's Bataan Diary by Charles Underwood (2013)
CUB: Harrowing Stories of Army Life in China, Bataan and Korea by Mike Gaffney (2014)
Sparrow - A Chronicle of Defiance: An epic account of The Sparrows - Battle of Britain gunners who defended Timor in 1942 as part of Sparrow Force by Grant McLeod McLachlan (2012) - Impressive and well-researched work
Bataan: In Pursuit of Truth - The True Story of Bataan, Plus: The Battle of Manila by Tillman J. Rutledge (2014)
My Japanese Pow Diary Story by Tillman J. Rutledge (1997)
The Emperor's Guest by John Fletcher-Cooke (2013) - New edition of a 1971 book, very well written, reading like a historical novel but no fiction at all here. The author, who was a British officer in the RAF and captured in Java, gets right into his story of being a POW -- first at Boei Glodok, Batavia, West Java, then at Innoshima (Hiroshima #5), Zentsuji (Hiroshima #1), and Miyata (Fukuoka #9), Japan, where he was liberated. Great detail. He was a Member of Parliament for two years from 1964. In 1969, he went back to Japan for a visit to Zentsuji, the camp then a high school.
The Jungle Journal: Prisoners of the Japanese in Java 1942-1945 by Frank and Ronald Williams (2013) - Story of a young Royal Artillery officer, Lieutenant Ronald Williams, who was held as a prisoner of war in the Japanese-occupied Dutch East Indies from 1942–45, a true account of the alternate horror and banality of daily life, and the humor that helped the men survive the beatings, deprivation, and death of comrades. Told through the diary and papers of Williams and others, The Jungle Journal includes many cartoons and poems produced by the prisoners, as well as extracts from the original Jungle Journal (a newspaper created by the men under the noses of their guards), describing the survival of hope even in desperate straits, a testament to those men whose courage and fortitude were tested to the limit under the tropical sun.
Scattered Under The Rising Sun: The Gordon Highlanders in the Far East 1941-1945 by Stewart Mitchell (2013) - Detailed work on the history and movements of a whole unit, the Gordon Highlanders 2nd Battalion, with many individual stories by the men themselves. In the Appendix is a list of every Gordon Highlander who was in the 2nd Battalion and in Singapore in 1941, over 1000 men, 700 of which include their photographs. Mitchell is a volunteer researcher at the Gordon Highlanders Museum. See additional news article, "New book records experiences of Gordon Highlander POWs."
Ed & Ivet: The True Story of a World War II POW Romance by William Bacon (2010) - "War, like hurricanes, can also leave new beginnings in its wake," writes William Bacon, weaving a fascinating story of beauty from ashes. His father, Ed, was a civilian worker with the CPNAB on Guam, captured by the Japanese at the outbreak of WWII, and sent to several camps in Kobe. It was while imprisoned there that he met Ivet, the daughter of Turkish civilians, who would often pass by the camp, from which sparked a lasting romance. A very well-written and movie-worthy read.
Building for War - The Epic Saga of the Civilian Contractors and Marines of Wake Island in WWII by Bonita Gilbert (2012) - A thorough background history of Wake Island and the 1,145 civilian contractors who assisted the Marines in defending Wake Island at the very outset of the Pacific War, and what happened to those amazing men as captives of the Japanese. Remember Pearl Harbor, Remember Gallant Wake!
A Child in the Midst of Battle by Evelyn Berg Empie and Stephen H. Mette - An amazing story of how non-interned civilians survived WWII in Manila, as told by a young girl who was there with her family. Here is a book that should be in every school library.
The Barbed-Wire University: The Real Lives of Prisoners of War in the Second World War by Midge Gillies - Stories based on the experiences of POWs, what they really did and learned in camps, and how they survived the brutalities and horrors, in both Europe and the Far East.
In Good Hands: The life of Dr Sam Stening, POW by Dr. Ian Pfennigwerth - "The remarkable story of Sam Stening – Royal Australian Navy doctor – who, as a prisoner of the Japanese, saved the lives of countless Allied servicemen... working with other American medical personnel striving to cut the POW death toll in three camps in Kyushu, including the dangerous shipyard on Kouyagi Island in Nagasaki."
Rising from the Shadow of the Sun: A Story of Love, Survival and Joy by Ronny Herman de Jong - Fascinating story based on the diary of the author's mother, Jeannette Herman-Louwerse, and the author's autobiography telling about her life as a child in the Dutch East Indies prior to WWII, during the war while at a prisoner camp with her family, and her struggles and joys afterwards.
Survivor: An American soldier's heartfelt story of intense fighting, surrender, and survival from Bataan to Nagasaki by Francisco L. Lovato - Biography of Master Sgt. Frank Lovato, captured on Bataan and spent time at O'Donnell, Omuta #17 and Fukuoka #1.
A Brother's Hero by Edward Malikowski - Very informative self-published work on the author's brother, Francis W. Malikowski, who was with the 20th Air Base Squadron at Nichols Field in the Philippines, captured on Bataan, and imprisoned in several camps to end up at Hiroshima camp #4 (Mukaishima). Copies are available for purchase from the author at 1342 Glen Echo Rd., West Chester, PA 19380.
Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption by Laura Hillenbrand - A MUST READ! Amazing story of Louis Zamperini, former Olympic runner, who was captured by the Japanese after his B-24 crashed in the Pacific and endured 2 years of abuse as his captors tried to break his will and use him for propaganda purposes. Don't forget to read the original story Zamperini wrote in 1956, which has been updated in this 2011 (2003) book, Devil at My Heels: A Heroic Olympian's Astonishing Story of Survival as a Japanese POW in World War II.
“I’m Praying Hard for You,” Love Letters to a Death Camp: The World War II Ordeal of Bill and Jo Brenner by Linda McCaffery - Story of William Brenner, an Army doctor taken prisoner by the Japanese in the Philippines and eventually shipped to mainland Japan, to spend time at Fukuoka camps #6-D (Tanoura) and #25-B (Omuta).Very interesting history of related WWII events.
We Volunteered by Timothy C. Ruse - A biography of Carl Ruse, survivor of the Bataan Death March, and POW at Camp O'Donnell, Cabanatuan, Davao Penal Colony, and Nagoya #5 Yokkaichi.
Ghosts of Canopus: The War Diary of a Lucky Old Lady by Everett Perry - Details the history WWII’s USS Canopus (AS 9) and her crew as prisoners of war of the Japanese. 250 photographs and maps illustrate the journey of this ship and her crew as POWs of Japan. Each step in this heroic ship to prisoner of war story is fully covered including a roster of the 548 shipmates captured and held as POWs of Japan.
Escape From Davao: The Forgotten Story of the Most Daring Prison Break of the Pacific War by John D. Lukacs - Called by the War Department "the greatest story of the war in the Pacific" in 1944, twelve special men, survivors of the Bataan Death March, Corregidor veterans and two Filipino convicts, broke out of the reportedly escape-proof Davao Penal Colony on Mindanao in April 1943 -- the only large-scale escape from a Japanese prison camp in the Pacific Theater during World War II.
Keep the Men Alive: Australian POW doctors in Japanese captivity by Rosalind Hearder - Story of 106 Australian medical officers who did an amazing job of keeping POWs alive. Good selection of photos, some showing the ingenious devices created to help patients.
A Gordon Highlander if ever I saw one by William Ross Young and John Duff - True account of a young Gordon Highlander's experiences as a Japanese POW in Singapore, the Burma Siam Railway and Mainland Japan.
Bataan Diary: An American Family in WWII, 1941-1945 by Chris Shaefer (2004) - Based on the diary of Lt. Col. Frank Loyd, a very well-written story of Americans who evaded or escaped capture by the Japanese in the Philippines and their activities with Filipino guerrillas. Beautifully interwoven with the diary and correspondence of Loyd's wife at home in the US.
Tjideng Reunion by Boudewyn van Oort - Memoir of Java. In particular, story of South African Volunteers [Not read or reviewed]- See Essay by author
Tears in The Darkness by Michael & Elizabethy M. Norman. Not particularly highly rated by ex POWs. All too many errors.
George McNab by Brian Coutts. British POW rescued at Fukuoka #25. [Not read or reviewed]
First Captured, Last Freed - Story of Ed Hale, survivor of the USS Penguin sinking on the first day of the war.
"My Father's Captivity" by Al Young. This book is destined to become the classic POW story. If you want one of the five best books ever written about the POWS, this has to top your list. Beautifully written emotional, factual and the author clearly places you into the mind of a prisoner. If you want to buy just one book to understand the story of the POWs, buy this one book. [August 2009]
Jim's Journey - A Wake Island Civilian POW's Story by Leilani A. Mahnino; Hellgate Press (2001) Central Point, OR. A detailed and well illustrated story of the civilian cintractors captured on Wake Island, Almost half of these men perished in captivity and close to 200 endured the horrors of the Sasebo POW Camp. This is the single best book about the civilians captured on Wake Island... in fact, highly recommended even for the story of the Marine who almost stopped the Japanese invasion.
Beyond The Call by D.Burke Penny. The full and detailed story of the 33 Canadian Corps of Signals captured in Hong Kong. Detailed story but with a unique perspective on how the families at home endured during the war. Published by the Hong Kong Veterans Commemorative Assoc.
"..when men must live" by Kenneth B. and James T. Murphy, I West Publications, 6789 Quail Hill Parkway #715, Irvine CA 92603, published 2009. Memoir of Army Air Corps Tech Sgt James T. Murphy captured on Bataan and eventually rescued at Sendai #6, Hanawa. Extensive description of initial attacks on Nichols Field, Bataan battles and experiences in various POW camps. Exceptionally good detail of the hell ship, Noto Maru. The values instilled in him as a youth allowed him to survive [June 2009].
Ambushed Under the Southern Cross: The Making of an American Merchant Marine Officer and His Ensuing Saga of Courage and Survival
This is a fabluously detailed story of Merchant Marine Capt (Ret). George Duffy, captured when his ship, American Leader, was sunk by a German commerce raider. He was transferred to Japanese control and spent time in Java, Singapore and Sumatra. One of the rare books that tells of the experiences on the "Sumatra" Death Railway. Beatuifully written story of his youth, his years of education to become a merchant Marine officer and the years of experience before the war. This book is an absolute "must have" for historians of the Merchant Marine in the early war years.
Long Night’s Journey into Day: Prisoners of War in Hong Kong and Japan, 1941-1945 by Charles Roland (2001) - Excellent recap of the defense of Hong Kong and the experiences of the POWS, a great deal centered upon their health. Outstanding discussion of the various Jap hospitals, Sendai #2 and Nagasaki camps. Massacres in Hong Kong well described along with civilian experiences. Excellent descriptions but even better discussions relating the Japanese treatment of POWs and their concepts of Bushido vis a vis prisoners. Best possible book to understand the fanatic devotion to Japan and the Emperor. Scary parallels to today's Moslem terrorists.
Wartime Trilogy - [Publisher's Link] A combined set of three outstanding books. Ray Parkin's "Out of the Smoke", "Into the Smother", and, "The Sword and the Blossom". Recounts his experiences on the HMS Perth (sunk), the Death Railway and eventual slavery in the Ohama Mines (Hiroshima #9).
Each book, alone, is a literary masterpiece of Australian military POW experiences but together, a legacy that will last for centuries. If you had but one book to keep about the POW's ordeal, this is the single best. See FULL REVIEW
Notify Alec Rattray - [Publisher's Link] A young Scottish officer, Captain Atholl Duncan, maintained a detailed diary and, along with letters and notes written before and during the war, author Meg Parkes recreates a stunning portrayal of his life before and after the surrender on Java. If read only for the experiences, maps and illustrations while captive on Java, the book is worth every cent. Interspersed with copies of actual letters, diary entries, photographs and maps, Parkes paints a lavish portrait that reflects the experiences of hundreds. First of two books leads the reader from Java, via hell ships to Hokkaido and thence to Zentsuji. The good news? The sequel, '...A.A. Duncan is OK', which covers the years 1944-1946 is now available. Plan to purchase the set.
Not The Slightest Chance - [author & publisher's link] [Cover] The Defense of Hong Kong, 1941 by Tony Banham. An absolute must have reference book for anyone who want to know what happened in the battle for Hong Kong. Banham accounts for almost every econd of battle and every man who fought. Like the "Unsung Heroes of the RAF", Banham's book is the single best summation of this almost forgotten battle. A linked web site give the disposition of every single soldier and almost every civilian iincluding the internee camps. If ever an author deserves an OBE from Queen Elizabeth II, Banham merits two. Highly priced but still worthwhile.
Forgotten War Forgiven Guilt - [publisher's link] [Cover Picture] The story of MacArthur's often overlooked 13th Air Force. In fact, we know of no other book on the subject. Author David Witts flew over 50 missions to rescue downed fliers, secret runs deep into enemy territory, and searches for enemy ships. The facts are indisputable as he retained the rescue squadron's entire action logs for the campaign. Witts's plane was the PBY that flew behind the Japanese lines to rescue the Palawan survivors who made it to the coast of China. His "second hand" account of the massacre paints a vivid picture. An unusual page turner even though not specific to individual POW experiences. A brilliant contribution to history.
Exerpt from another review:
"This book is wonderful beyond description !!! It captivates so much that deserves to be said and circulated .... is so well written that I am spellbound by it's magical coverage. While reading and trying to memorize - I couldn't help but imagine my being able to get your permission (attributing your book as the source of some classic excerpts) to use them in future speeches to a variety of audiences!"
Unsung Heroes of the RAF - [Detailed Review by Center for Research] Prisoners of the Far East. An absolute must have reference book for anyone seeking information on the RAF POWS. Gives name, rank, etc. plus what happened to almost every man or group of men as they were transported for slavery. The authors have contributed the definitive accounting that will forever serve history. They have done what the British government failed to do, account for their men in the Far East.
[A second review-from FEPOW- worth reading]
The Secret Camera: A Marine's Story: Four Years as a POW by Terence S. Kirk is back in print. One of the two best books ever written about the China Marines and slave labor in Tobata (camp site). Contains the only pictures ever taken inside a Japanese POW camp by a POW during the war. Photos reveal the deliberate starvation of the men.
| MAGIC: The
Untold Story of U.S. Intelligence and the
Evacuation of Japanese Residents from the West Coast during World War II
By: David D. Lowman, Former Special Asst to the Director of the National Security Agency (NSA).
Athena Press,2001 [Publisher's Link]
The real story of why the Americans of Japanese ancestry were interned during World War II. Analysis of intercepted messages reveals the link between Japan and their "citizens" in America, both in intelligence and finacial support. Draw your own conclusions but the facts speak loudly.
| Copyright: Hoover
"David D. Lowman draws upon declassified Army, Navy, and FBI reports to reveal the real reasons for the evacuation of Japanese-Americans, demonstrating that their relocation into camps was not the result of mere racism, war hysteria, or a lack of political will, but the result of superior military intelligence gathering. Magic is a unique and invaluable addition to the growing library of World War II materials for scholars and military buffs alike."
MIDWEST BOOK REVIEW
Death on the Hellships
Prisoners at Sea in the Pacific War [FULL REVIEW]
By Gregory F. Michno
Naval Institute Press, Annapolis, 2001
This is the absolute best book ever written about the Hell Ships. Michno provides a scholarly work plus the most complete roster of ships ever compiled. see short list of major losses, sailing dates, destinations, numbers of prisoners and number of deaths.
Trapped With The Enemy
Four years as a civilian POW in Japan FULL REVIEW
By James O. Thomas, Assistant Station Manager, Pan American Airways, Guam, December 1941.
Thomas traces the difficult and fearful lives of the civilians taken to Japan after Guam was seized, December 10, 1941.
Moon Over Malaya
By Jonathan Moffatt & Audrey Holmes McCormick
Tempus Publishing, Charleston SC, 2002
ISBN 07524 2114X
Extraordinarily detailed story of the British Argylls and Marines in the Malayan campaign. Outnumbered and outgunned, they fought a unique series of actions culminating in surrender at Singapore. Experiences of work on the "Death Railway" and of numerous fellow prisoners captured from merchant ships. Detailed and extensive rosters. Publisher Link CLICK on cover for AMAZON.COM
over Malaya is the true story of two of the most famous regiments in
Britain, the 2nd Argyll & Sutherland Highlanders and their
compatriots, the Royal Marines, who fought side by side against the
Japanese invaders. The two regiments made their last stand in February
1942 in Singapore."
errata and additions
POW Survival in the Philippines and Japan
By Bob Wodnik
Washington State Univ Press, Pullman, 2003
Interesting stories of eight men captured on Bataan and Corregidor, including pre-war experiences and slavery in Japan. The author, a journalist, leaves out critical descriptions of the actual POW camps. Stories jump back and forth erratically from the home front to the war.
Hell Wouldn't Stop
[Full Review] An Oral History of the Battle for Wake Island. Many interviews are interwoven to give an interesting narrative of the battle.
[Full Review] Excellent narratives of the experiences of 13 residents and soldiers taken captive in the Netherlands East Indies. Over 100 rarely seen pictures. Pictures alone are worth the price of the book.