The sharper edge to traveling in Asia

WoWasis book review: Bataan Death March: Mario Machi’s ‘Under the Rising Sun’

Written By: herbrunbridge - Jan• 19•15

MachiRisingSunOne of the most infamous incidents in World War II was the Bataan Death March, in which the Japanese military force-marched 60,000-80,000 Allied and Filipino prisoners along a 60 mile route. Along the way, thousands of prisoners died, bayoneted or shot by Japanese soldiers, or victims of wounds, disease, or malnourishment. And Mario Machi, an American prisoner of war, was there. His Under the Rising Sun: Memories of a Japanese Prisoner of War (1994, ISBN 0-9642521-0-4) tells the grim and fascinating story.

The book is compelling, and at 176 pages, a quick read. Machi, a San Franciscan, shipped out to the Philippines and began keeping a diary. After being captured in Manila, he was able to surreptitiously slip his diary to a local citizen, who mailed it back to him after the war. Many of the stories in this book come from the diary, but Machi’s memories from the march and imprisonment in Camp O’Donnell and Cabanatuan were not documented: a found diary meant instant death.

We here at WoWasis found the book to be sobering and inspirational at the same time. Obviously, there’s lots of death here, but also compelling stories of how the survivors managed to stay alive against seemingly insurmountable odds. Bad food, no food, and dysentery are ongoing themes, as are the camp rules that, once violated, often resulted in the execution of the prisoner who breeched them.

Machi is a born storyteller, and was helped along in this book by veteran travel adventure writer Harold Stephens. The Bataan Death March is a story told in many books detailing the Pacific War, but perhaps not as forcefully as this, told by a man who was there, on that road of death. Buy this book now at the WoWasis eStore.

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