Inside the Capitol

Saturday, July 16, 2005

7-22 WWII Books

Syndicated Columnist
SANTA FE -- Thousands of books have been written about World War II. In my continuing series on New Mexicans in the Pacific Theater of that war, I have concentrated on recent books and books by and about New Mexicans.
A brand new book fits both categories. It is recent and it's by New Mexicans about New Mexicans. "Silent Voices of World War II" was written by Nancy Bartlit of Los Alamos and former University of New Mexico professor Everett Rogers, who is now deceased.
The subtitle of the book is: When Sons of the Land of Enchantment Met Sons of the Land of the Rising Sun.. Bartlit has a special relationship with both cultures. She taught in Japan for two years, tutored Japanese in Los Alamos and returned to Japan to study technology and industry.
Silent Voices covers four major aspects of the Pacific War in which New Mexico was involved: Bataan, Navajo code talkers, the Japanese internment camps at Santa Fe and Lordsburg, and development of the atomic bombs at Los Alamos.
The authors pulled together these seemingly separate events in some interesting relationships that will be the subject of a future column.
"Ghost Soldiers," by Hampton Sides of Santa Fe has been critically acclaimed nationwide. It is the story of a daring rescue of the Bataan prisoners who were too ill to be moved from the Cabanatuan prison camp, when the other prisoners were taken to Japan.
Quite a few New Mexicans were included among the prisoners rescued before they were to be killed as American troops retook the Philippines.
"Flags of Our Fathers" by James Bradley is the story of the men who raised the flag on Iwo Jima and what happened to them afterward. It was written by the son of one of the survivors.
"Flyboys" is Bradley's second book. It recounts the previously untold story of nine Navy pilots shot down over the island of Chichi Jima, near Okinawa. Eight pilots were captured by the Japanese. Their treatment and deaths were so gruesome that families were never told of the circumstances. Military files remained closed for nearly 60 years.
One pilot chose to swim away from the island, rather than toward it. He was picked up by a submarine in the area and survived to become the 41st president of the United States, George H.W. Bush.
"Beyond Courage," by Dorothy Cave of Roswell, tells the story of the 200th Coast Artillery Regiment of the New Mexico National Guard and its courageous battle against overwhelming odds in the Philippines. That was followed by the Bataan Death March, inhuman prison camp treatment, the hell ships to Japan and eventual liberation.
Many of the columns in this series on New Mexicans in the Pacific Theater of World War II were taken primarily from this book.
"It tolled For New Mexico," by Eva Jane Matson, of Las Cruces, tells of the fate of New Mexicans captured by the Japanese during World War II. It lists New Mexicans in the Pacific, their units, their prison camps, their hell ships, and whether they were liberated or died. It also contains much interesting narrative and a description of war memorials in the state.
"Brave Men," by Ernie Pyle of Albuquerque, was written before he left the European Theater to go to the Pacific, where he died on the island of Ie Shima, just off Okinawa. But it deserves to be in any list of World War II books.
Ernie was out there in the middle of the action throughout the war. He knew how soldiers feel. This book is the closest you can get to knowing what it was like -- in Europe or the Pacific. And he interviewed many New Mexicans.
"Fire on the Mountain," by Edward Abbey, is a novel based on the fight of rancher John Prather to keep his property when the government decided to confiscate New Mexico ranch land for the White Sands Missile Range. It's a good depiction of what all White Sands ranchers faced.
FRI, 7-22-05

JAY MILLER, 3 La Tusa, Santa Fe, NM 87505
(ph) 982-2723, (fax) 984-0982, (e-mail)



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