Valley Of The Shadow: An Account of American POWs of the Japanese
by Colonel Nicoll F. Galbraith, GSC, U.S. Army and Whitney H. Galbraith

"Still, a man of ingenuity can often think himself out of a tight squeeze...if he can hold on a little longer and fight a little harder."

This World War II memoir begins in 1942 with events leading up to the surrender of the last American soldiers in the Philippines to the Japanese Army. Major characters are composites of actual American Army leaders and their fellow prisoners. Disobedience was not tolerated, but the POWs did give their Japanese captors names such as Pussy and Scurvy. The author records the events over a three-year period from extensive diary pages. Other than composite characters, very little is fictional.

The reader shares the emotions of the captured men―experiencing fear and demoralization from being forced to exist daily on a meager portion of rice, moved from camp to camp, packed inside ships and trains―as the Japanese seek to evade the approaching American Army. The story ends in August 1945 with the arrival of the Russian army, newly entered on the Allied side, to free them from Camp Hoten in Mukden, Manchuria. The captives, saved as a bargaining chip, were not killed but still treated inhumanely: deprived of Red Cross contact, withheld food and mail, promised but denied basic privileges, and cruelly confined in solitary 3x3 foot ESOs for any infraction.

Atypically written in the third person, the author assumes the pseudonym of Cameron. The tale is a psychological study of what happens to men in horrible conditions. Some, like the character called Paul, reveal a Christian character. However, most when denied leadership become selfish, absorbed with survival as a server might get a bone or more grains into his own rice bowl. Similarities to MASH characters may be noted, although minus lighthearted camaraderie and a chief officer worthy of respect. Bravery could rise from any rank as could injustice and cruelty. In short, this is a poignant tale well worth reading.

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