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by Hiroo Onoda
Naval Institute Press 1999
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My Thirty Year War
This "classic" of World War II lore is again easily available with a new re-print from the Naval Institute Press. It is hard to believe the incredible, and true stories of Japanese holdouts in the Pacific long after the "official" end of the war in 1945. Their stories are a cross between "Robinson Caruso" survival, Bushido ideology, and urban legend. More importantly, it is the story of human that overcame an incredible mental and physical ordeal for a cause he believed in.
2nd Lt. Hiroo Onoda was an intelligence officer, trained in guerrilla tactics. He was sent to Lubang Island in the Philippines with instructions to hamper enemy operations and hold out indefinitely using any means possible. Hunted in turn by American troops, the Philippine army and police, hostile islanders, and eventually successive Japanese search parties, Onoda had skillfully outmaneuvered all his pursuers, convinced that World War II was still being fought and waiting for the day when his fellow soldiers would return victorious.
Onoda came from an ordinary background, but his story is an incredible testament to the human spirit. Like many other Japanese soldiers, he and his men retreated into the mountains and treated surrender leaflets dropped in their area as bogus propaganda. Life becomes a constant battle against the elements as well as the enemy. Even when is group of soldiers realized they were the only Japanese remaining on the island, the resolved to fight on, hoping to tie up as many enemy troops as possible.
In the Spring of 1974, 2nd Lt. Hiroo Onoda of the Japanese army made world headlines when he emerged from the Philippine jungle after a thirty-year ordeal. A soldier who fought and survived the war's longest, loneliest battle, Onoda became a hero to his people and his account of events, first published in Japan in 1974 and in English in 1975, has enjoyed an approving audience ever since. Currently no other English edition is in print.
This book is a quick read, and every page is a joy. After reading it, one gains an appreciation and understanding of how and why ordinary Japanese soldiers would choose to fight on, and treat efforts to have them surrender as bogus. One can't help but wonder what they would have done if they were Onoda, and faced with the same circumstances.
Highly recommended as reading material for anyone interested in an true and probably one of the most interesting facets of WWII history.
Review by Justin Taylan
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