Told here for the first time in vivid detail is the story of the defenders of Wake Island following their surrender to the Japanese on December 23, 1941. Military historian Gregory Urwin has spent decades researching what happened and now offers a revealing look at the U.S. Marines, sailors, soldiers, and civilian volunteers in captivity. In addition to exhaustive archival research, he interviewed dozens of POWs and even some of their Japanese captors. He also had access to diaries secretly kept by the prisoners. This information has allowed Urwin to provide a nuanced look at the Japanese guards and how the Americans survived over three years in captivity, emerging with a much lower death rate than most other Allies captured in the Pacific.
Urwin says the answer lies in part in the Wake Islanders'establishment of life-saving communities that kept their dignity intact. Their mutual-help networks encouraged those who faltered under the physical and psychological torture, including what is today called water boarding. Most spent the war at a camp just outside Shanghai, one of the few places where Japanese authorities permitted the Red Cross to aid prisoners of war. The author also calls attention to the generosity of civilians in Shanghai, including Swiss diplomats and the American and British residents of the fabled International Settlement, who provided food and clothing to the prisoners, as well as some of the guards who occasionally went out of their way to aid the men. As the first historical work to fully explore the captivity of Wake Island's defenders, the book offers information not found in other World War II histories.
About the Author
Gregory J. W. Urwin is Professor of History at Temple University in Philadelphia, PA, specialising in American and British military affairs. He has written nine books, including the award-winning Facing Fearful Odds: The Siege of Wake Island.
Gregory J. W. Urwin is Professor of History at Temple University in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, where he specializes in American and British military affairs. He is the author of eight other books, including Facing Fearful Odds: The Siege of Wake Island, which won the Gen. Wallace M. Greene Jr. Award from the Marine Corps Heritage Foundation. He lives in Doylestown, PA.