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Abandoned on Bataan By Oliver Craig Allen & Mildred Faye Allen

Jacket: Paperback
Pages: 276 pages
Publisher: Crimson Horse Ent. & Pub. Co.; (October 2002)
Genre: Military
ISBN: 0971318417

Comments about the author: Oliver 'Red' Allen left college to join the Army Air Corps in 1941,hoping to fulfill his dream of flying. Instead, through early events in World War II, hewound up in the hands of the Japanese as a prisoner of war, surviving three and a half years on Bataan and in Manchuria. He later became a school teacher.

Mildred Allen had hoped for a career in journalism. She had been editor of her college newspaper and served as a Past National Editor of American Ex-Prisoners of War Bulletin. Instead of following a journalism career, in 1946 she became an elementary school teacher at age 19. Toward the end of her career she taught dyslexic children. After 43 years of teaching, she created puzzles in mathematics for a major crossword puzzle magazine.
Visit the author's website

Review: Lest we forget the horror that is war.

Standing as we are, on the cusp of what historians will call the Second Gulf War, the world is confronted once again with the terrors and brutality that warfare stirs in the human psyche. Each of our living generations carries distinct and vivid imagery of what those horrors are. The further back in time our collective memories stretch, the more brutal warfare becomes. Tragically, as our technology has advanced, our ability to wage a lightning war – an antiseptic Blitzkrieg if you will – has become so profound that the youngest of our generations have forgotten, or never learned, just how terrible war can be. In a world where our most recent conflicts have seen more friendly fire casualties than deaths attributable to combat, to be captured, tortured, and deprived of basic human necessities is now something of an anachronism to Americans in the 21st century.

To counter our fading memories, Oliver Craig Allen, with the help of his wife Mildred Faye Allen, has given us one man’s perspective of the grim realities faced by thousands of American prisoners of war during World War II – many of whom never returned home alive.

The Allen’s do not attempt to tell the sweeping and rich history of American combat in the Pacific during the war, nor have they put together a comprehensive history of Bataan, the Death March or even of the unit in which Red Allen served. Rather, this is a story of survival in the face of almost unimaginable brutality at the hands of Japanese captors. Throughout the story, the reader is met head-on with Allen’s completely honest asessment of himself, not as a hero or otherwise notable figure but as a simple young man who ended up in a terrible situation from which there was little hope of escape. Allen’s gritty determination and tenacious will to survive is perhaps the most salient feature in this work which traces Red Allen from the years prior to his enlistment through his freedom from captivity and to his return to life as a civilian deeply affected by his experiences in combat and captivity.

Among the many prominent facets of this work is Allen’s depiction of the ever-present fog of confusion and chaos that surrounded the battle for the Philippines and life as a captive of the Japanese. This story does an exceptional job in painting a clear picture of the fall of the Philippines and the abandonment of our armed forces thereafter. As a stand-alone memoir, Abandoned on Bataan is a good read about a terrible time. It is also valuable as a component in the larger story of the hell that was life as a prisoner of war under a Japanese captor with only the vaguest regard for individual dignity and human life.

— Reviewed by: Timothy E. McMahon, M.S.


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