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We Band of Angels: The Untold Story of…

We Band of Angels: The Untold Story of American Nurses Trapped on Bataan… (edition 2000)

by Elizabeth M. Norman

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Title:We Band of Angels: The Untold Story of American Nurses Trapped on Bataan by the Japanese
Authors:Elizabeth M. Norman
Info:Atria (2000), Paperback, 352 pages
Collections:Your library
Tags:WWII, Nurses, War

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We Band of Angels: The Untold Story of American Nurses Trapped on Bataan by the Japanese by Elizabeth M. Norman



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Why isn’t this book required reading for all students in school? Seriously. Not only does is cover a vital portion of history, one often over-looked (like the history of the Japanese expansion that lead to the war in the Pacific), but it covers the attitude towards women during the World War and the origins of the Feminist Movement that would sweep America in the 1960s and 70s. It also covers the tactics that decided the fate of so many during the early days of the war in the Pacific, the reason we fought, the reason it cost us so much in blood to win, and the price we paid for it.
These women deserved more than just the lip-service recognition they received. Many were simply looking for adventure, romance, and an easy job in the tropics. What they got was nearly four years of hell, tending wounded with no supplies, interned under the harshest conditions, suffering for debilitating injuries and disease exasperated by starvation and neglect – and yet, thru all of their suffering, they thought first of their patients and last of themselves.
After their rescue, they were paraded around, used as propaganda until the end of the war, then forgotten and shoved aside. Many suffered life-long ailments from the injuries and starvation they went through during their incarceration. These women paved the way for their daughters and sisters to stand up and demanded the recognition, the opportunities, the fair treatment that many of us enjoy today. Without their demonstration of the courage, strength, and intelligence, many of us would not have the life we have today. They are heroines many times over and worth remembering and honoring.
This ought to be required reading for all high school students. Not only does Norman explain the politics and events that lead to the American involvement in the Pacific Theatre during World War II, but she puts names and faces to the women who served under the most horrendous conditions. This book brings together so many aspects vital to understanding this time on American History, and can start a dozen conversations in a dozen directions.
Norman’s prose is lively, concise, full of facts, but never dull. She is a thorough and reliable historian, with the sources for her assertions listed diligently in the back. Full of first-hand testimony, rigorous culling of historical documents, and personal papers of the very women who served, this is an excellent book in both scholarship and subject. Vital reading for all of us. ( )
  empress8411 | Mar 2, 2017 |
This book examines the war experiences of army and navy (and some national and civilian) nurses who were caught up in the Japanese capture of Bataan and Corregidor. Most of these women joined the service to seek adventure during a time when a woman's life in the states was quite regimented. And most had the glamour, excitement and pampering they sought. After the invasion, however, they were forced into horrific conditions. At one point they had to help build a hospital and much of the equipment from what could be found in the jungle. Without even enough beds, the prisoners were laid out on the ground as far as the eye could see. One nurse said it was like the scene from Gone With the Wind. Ultimately the nurses end up as prisoners of war for three years in steadily decreasing conditions. The author also shows us their lives after their return from war and the adjustments they needed to make, the long-term effects of their deprivations. These were ordinary women who rose to the challenge to care for their patients in the most horrific of situations, often during their own illnesses. It was an eye-opening look at a part of World War II I didn't know much about and an inspiring look at what women can achieve when they must. ( )
  LeslieHurd | Jan 11, 2017 |
Here, in letters, diaries, and riveting firsthand accounts, is the story of what really happened to the Army and Navy nurses during those dark days in Bataan.
  mcmlsbookbutler | Nov 1, 2016 |
This is an amazing book about a group of amazing women It is the story of the military nurses stationed in the Philippines at the beginning of WWII. As the war progressed, these women went from nursing under horrible conditions to being prisoners of war. In the words of the author, “A group of woman [sic] had gone off to paradise, had been swept up in war, had struggled to survive. As a group they had been my models, my exemplars – self-possessed women in a world dominated by men, professional women who kept to their protocols and practice in a place of starvation and disease and inane savagery, women who were both ordinary and sui-generis, as tough as they were tender, as stalwart as they were sincere.” We Band of Angels is, indeed, a fitting tribute to these women. Elizabeth Norman did an outstanding job of telling their story. I have no idea how she was able to pull so many sources (interviews, letters, articles, legal documents, and many more) together into such a readable book. Over her years of research, she also became close friends of several of the nurses, and was able to incorporate her own personal knowledge of them into the book. It obviously is a work of love. Everyone who has an interest in WWII – or nursing – or just in America - should read this book. ( )
  peggy.s | Jan 29, 2014 |
I received this book from the Goodreads First Reads Program.

This is the account of Navy nurses deployed to the Philippines during World War II. It seemed like an assignment in paradise, until December 8, 1941 when the Japanese began dropping bombs. The nurses served in a field hospital they set up in the Jungle of Bataan to care for the wounded soldiers. The nurses were sent to the tunnels of Corregidor when it became inevitable that the Army would be overrun. When Corregidor fell, the nurses were sent to an internment camp for Prisoners of War, where they would be kept until 1944.

The nurses served in deplorable conditions. They had to deal with bombs, starvation, imprisonment, diseases, lack of resources, and so much more. What was impressive to me was that even while they were starving and ill, they would report for duty to care for the sick and wounded soldiers and prisoners. The author uses a combination of first hand accounts, letters, and diaries to explain what happened to these women. The stunning courage of these women leaves you speechless.

I highly recommend reading this book. It is a moving account of service under the worst possible conditions. The nurses went beyond their duty when caring for their charges at great personal cost. Read this book to be reminded how humanity can succeed even at the worst moments. Even those that do not typically read history will be engrossed by this book. ( )
  BittyCornwell | Nov 17, 2013 |
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In the fall of 1941, while the Imperial Japanese Army and Navy secretly stockpiled tons of material and readied regiments of troops to attack American and European bases in the Pacific, the officers of General Douglas MacArthur's Far East Command in the Philippines pampered themselves with the sweet pleasures of colonial life.
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0671787187, Paperback)

"Found worms in my oatmeal this morning. I shouldn't have objected because they had been sterilized in the cooking and I was getting fresh meat with my breakfast.... I'm still losing weight and so are most of us..."

Ruth Marie Straub, an Army nurse, wrote those words in her diary on March 15, 1942, just over three months after the Japanese first bombed the U.S. military base in Manila. She and her colleagues had evacuated the city and established, in the Philippine jungle, hospitals for the skyrocketing numbers of casualties. In the face of the advancing Japanese Army, the nurses and other military personnel continued to retreat, first to the Bataan Peninsula, and then to Corregidor, a rocky island in Manila Bay. Straub was one of the lucky ones; she was evacuated with a handful of other nurses in April 1942. Her remaining colleagues, meanwhile, surrendered with the rest of the U.S. forces in May and were taken to STIC--Santo Tomas Internment Camp, where they were to spend nearly three years in captivity.

We Band of Angels tells the stories of these courageous women, tagged by the American media as "The Angels of Bataan and Corregidor." Utilizing a wide range of sources, including diaries, letters, and personal interviews with surviving "Angels," Elizabeth M. Norman has compiled a harrowing narrative about the experiences of these women--from the country-club atmosphere of prewar Manila; to the jungle hospitals where patients slept on bamboo cots in the open air; to the Malinta Tunnel on Corregidor, where they choked on dust and worked while the bombs rained down above them; to the STIC, where per-person rations were cut to 900 calories a day and the women resorted to frying weeds in cold cream for food. The story Nelson tells is compelling but slightly flawed: like many biographers, Nelson has a deep affection and respect for her subjects, which causes her to soften rough edges. At the same time, however, Nelson argues that these women were not heroes--nor were they angels (in the acknowledgments, Nelson notes that she didn't want the word angels in the title, but the publishers had their way). Perhaps because Nelson is a nurse herself, she is trying to stress that her profession is noble and that these women were, in a sense, just fulfilling their duties.

Nursing is noble, of course, but it is clear that these women were something special. Amazingly, all of the Angels of Bataan, some 99 in number, survived their ordeal--and clearly helped hundreds of the other sufferers survive. We Band of Angels deserves a space on the bookshelves of anyone interested in World War II. --C.B. Delaney

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:24:32 -0400)

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Celebrates the heroism of the Army and Navy nurses imprisoned for three years in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp.

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