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Captured Honor
POW Survival in the Philippines and Japan
Bob Wodnik

The time is November 1945, not long after Jack Elkins has returned from a prison camp in Japan to his hometown of Oakesdale, Washington. An autumn evening finds him before a gathering of townspeople clamoring to hear about his experiences. Jack is in turmoil. What they really want, he senses, is nice, neat stories of heroes who beat the odds. They want "blood without spatters" and death with dignity. What can he tell them? Burned forever in his mind are images of Japanese blood staining blue Manila Bay; of maggots assaulting the corpse of a buddy; of prisoner after prisoner relegated to small wooden boxes holding their cremated remains. Jack is unable to talk about what happened during his three years in Japanese prison camps. "There is no middle ground," in his estimation. "You either tell them all or tell them nothing." Standing up to the microphone, he whispers barely ten words to the audience, then sits down—and tries for the next half-century to forget.

It was fifty years before Jack could talk about his experiences as a prisoner of war; and he wasn't alone. In Captured Honor, author Bob Wodnik presents the stories of several Pacific-Northwest POWs. Yet this book is much more than a series of memoirs. Wodnik opens a variety of windows on World War II. Readers see prison-camp life in unrelenting detail; they glimpse the impact of firebombing on Japanese cities; they hear the difficulties of World War II veterans in adapting to life after the war and in an intriguing counterpoint, Wodnik anchors the entire work in the lobby of the Strand Hotel in downtown Everett, contrasting the horrors of a Japanese prison camp with the quiet life of a bibliophile desk clerk during World War II.

"The author has an uncanny ability to capture in words the experiences of ex-POWs. If there were one book I could recommend to explain the experience of being a POW under the Japanese, this would be it."
—Tom Thompson, former U.S. Army officer

" First and foremost, the manuscript is beautifully written. The author demonstrates an ability to blend dialogue, letters, and narrative into a seamless fabric, which enfolds the reader."
—Stephen Balzarini, P.D., associate professor of history, Gonzaga University

 


Captured Honor

Photographs, maps, index

6" x 9"
192 pages (2002)


Paperback
ISBN 978-0-87422-260-9
$19.95

Available June 2003

 

 
                         
                         
                         
 
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