The Abu Ghraib Effect
Stephen F. Eisenman Reaktion Books, 2010 Library of Congress N8253.T66E38 2007 | Dewey Decimal 704.94936564
The photographs of torture at Abu Ghraib prison aroused worldwide condemnation—or did they? Opinion polls showed that most citizens of the United States were unmoved by the images. One reason for this relative lack of a public outcry may be the nature of the Abu Ghraib pictures themselves and what Stephen F. Eisenman terms “the Abu Ghraib effect.” By showing prisoners engaging in sexual acts, Eisenman asserts, the photos make the men look like enthusiastic participants in their own interrogation and torture. Further, these scenes repeat an ancient stereotype: the “pathos formula,” in which victims of war are shown welcoming their own punishment.
In this highly original analysis, Eisenman shows the pathos formula at work in the Abu Ghraib photos, and he describes its long history, exploring the motif’s appearance in imperial Greek and Roman Art, in the sculpture and painting of Michelangelo, and in Baroque paintings of saints and martyrs. The author also describes the equally long history of artistic protest against the formula by such diverse artists as William Hogarth, Francisco Goya, Pablo Picasso, Ben Shahn, and Leon Golub.
The Abu Ghraib Effect reveals how the pathos formula has dulled public responses to images of torture, and also urges a more effective use of political images in the fight against the so-called “war on terror.”
“Eisenman’s concepts and questions constitute a challenging discourse on politics and art.” —Art in America
“This brilliantly argued volume should be read by all art historians.”—Art Book
“The Abu Ghraib Effect . . . traverses revolutionary terrain in its unraveling of the function of artistic metaphor in the justification of imperialist power.” —Media–Culture Review
Throughout his life, Clarence Adams exhibited self-reliance, ambition, ingenuity, courage, and a commitment to learning—character traits often equated with the successful pursuit of the American Dream. Unfortunately, for an African American coming of age in the 1930s and 1940s, such attributes counted for little, especially in the South. Adams was a seventeen-year-old high school dropout in 1947 when he fled Memphis and the local police to join the U.S. Army. Three years later, after fighting in the Korean War in an all-black artillery unit that he believed to have been sacrificed to save white troops, he was captured by the Chinese. After spending almost three years as a POW, during which he continued to suffer racism at the hands of his fellow Americans, he refused repatriation in 1953, choosing instead the People's Republic of China, where he hoped to find educational and career opportunities not readily available in his own country. While living in China, Adams earned a university degree, married a Chinese professor of Russian, and worked in Beijing as a translator for the Foreign Languages Press. During the Vietnam War he made a controversial anti-war broadcast over Radio Hanoi, urging black troops not to fight for someone else's political and economic freedoms until they enjoyed these same rights at home. In 1966, having come under suspicion during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, he returned with his wife and two children to the United States, where he was subpoenaed to appear before the House Committee on Un-American Activities to face charges of "disrupting the morale of American fighting forces in Vietnam and inciting revolution in the United States." After these charges were dropped, he and his family struggled to survive economically. Eventually, through sheer perseverance, they were able to fulfill at least part of the American Dream. By the time he died, the family owned and operated eight successful Chinese restaurants in his native Memphis.
Finalist for 2012 National Jewish Book Award in the Holocaust category
David Koker's diary is one of the most notable accounts of life in a German concentration camp written by a Jew during the years of the Holocaust. First brought to attention when the Dutch historian Jacob Presser-Koker's history teacher in high school-quoted from Koker's diary in his monumental history, published in English as The Destruction of the Dutch Jews (1968), the diary itself became a part of the Dutch literary canon when it was published in 1977 as Dagboek geschreven in Vught (Diary Written in Vught). It has remained in print ever since, and is notable for its literary qualities, weaving poetry and powerful observations of the emotional life of a camp prisoner, including reflections after an in-person visit by Heinrich Himmler. Surprisingly, the book has never before been translated into English.
During his time in the Vught concentration camp, the 21-year-old David recorded on an almost daily basis his observations, thoughts, and feelings. He mercilessly probed the abyss that opened around him and, at times, within himself. David's diary covers almost a year, both charting his daily life in Vught as it developed over time and tracing his spiritual evolution as a writer. Until early February 1944, David was able to smuggle some 73,000 words from the camp to his best friend Karel van het Reve, a non-Jew.
With an informative introduction, annotation, and list of dramatis personae by Robert Jan van Pelt, At the Edge of the Abyss offers an immediate and wholly original look into the life of a concentration camp prisoner.
In the quiet of morning, exactly six months after Pearl Harbor, the Japanese touched down on American soil. Landing on the remote Alaska island of Attu, they assailed an entire village, holding the Alaskan villagers for two months and eventually corralling all survivors into a freighter bound for Japan.
One of those survivors, Nick Golodoff, became a prisoner of war at just six years old. He was among the dozens of Unangan Attu residents swept away to Hokkaido, and one of only twenty-five to survive. Attu Boy tells Golodoff’s story of these harrowing years as he found both friendship and cruelty at the hands of the Japanese. It offers a rare look at the lives of civilian prisoners and their captors in WWII-era Japan. It also tells of Golodoff’s bittersweet return to a homeland torn apart by occupation and forced internments. Interwoven with other voices from Attu, this richly illustrated memoir is a testament to the struggles, triumphs, and heartbreak of lives disrupted by war.
A forgotten account, written in the immediate aftermath of World War II, which vividly portrays the valor, sacrifice, suffering, and liberation of the defenders of Bataan and Corregidor through the eyes of one survivor.
The personal memoir of Colonel David L. Hardee, first drafted at sea from April-May 1945 following his liberation from Japanese captivity, is a thorough treatment of his time in the Philippines. A career infantry officer, Hardee fought during the Battle of Bataan as executive officer of the Provisional Air Corps Regiment. Captured in April 1942 after the American surrender on Bataan, Hardee survived the Bataan Death March and proceeded to endure a series of squalid prison camps. A debilitating hernia left Hardee too ill to travel to Japan in 1944, making him one of the few lieutenant colonels to remain in the Philippines and subsequently survive the war. As a primary account written almost immediately after his liberation, Hardee’s memoir is fresh, vivid, and devoid of decades of faded memories or contemporary influences associated with memoirs written years after an experience. This once-forgotten memoir has been carefully edited, illustrated and annotated to unlock the true depths of Hardee’s experience as a soldier, prisoner, and liberated survivor of the Pacific War.
Raymond B. Lech University of Illinois Press, 2000 Library of Congress DS921.L43 2000 | Dewey Decimal 951.90427
Traversing the no-man's-land of political loyalty and betrayal, Broken Soldiers documents the fierce battle for the minds and hearts of American prisoners during the Korean War. In scorching detail, Raymond Lech describes the soldiers' day-to-day experiences in prisoner-of-war camps and the shocking treatment some of them received at the hands of their own countrymen after the war. Why, he asks, were only fourteen American soldiers tried as collaborators when thousands of others who admitted to some of the same offenses were not?
Drawing on some 60,000 pages of court-martial transcripts Lech secured through the Freedom of Information Act, Broken Soldiers documents the appalling treatment and the sophisticated propagandizing to which American POWs fell victim during the Korean conflict. Three thousand American soldiers perished in North Korean camps over the winter of 1950-51, most from starvation. Through the unsentimental testimony of survivors, Lech describes how these young men, filthy and lice-infested, lost an average of 40 percent of their body weight. Many also lost their powers of resistance and their grip on soldierly conduct.
After six months of starvation, the emaciated, disoriented prisoners were subjected to a relentless campaign to educate them to the virtues of communism. Bombarded with propaganda, the Americans were organized into study groups and forced to discuss and write about communism and Marxism, even to broadcast harangues against capitalist aggression and appeals for an end to the war.
Lech traces the spiral of debilitation and compromise, showing how parroting certain phrases came to seem a small price to pay for physical safety. Threatened with starvation and indefinite confinement in Korea, many POWs succumbed to pressure to mouth communist slogans and provide information far in excess of the regulation "name, rank, and service number."
Of the thousands of American soldiers who, while prisoners in North Korea, spoke and wrote favorably of communism and disparaged their country, a handful were charged with collaborating with the enemy. Why were so few singled out? Why did each branch of the armed services judge parallel circumstances differently, and why were American soldiers not realistically prepared for capture? A powerful indictment of justice miscarried, Broken Soldiers raises troubling questions that remain unanswered decades after the events.
In this extraordinary study, Michael Dorland explores sixty years of medical attempts by French doctors (mainly in the fields of neuropsychiatry and psychoanalysis) to describe the effects of concentration camp incarceration on Holocaust survivors. Dorland begins with a discussion of the liberation of concentration camp survivors, their stay in deportation camps, and eventual return to France, analyzing the circulation of mainly medical (neuropsychiatric) knowledge, its struggles to establish a symptomology of camp effects, and its broadening out into connected medical fields such as psychoanalysis. He then turns specifically to the French medical doctors who studied Holocaust survivors, and he investigates somatic, psychological, and holistic conceptions of survivors as patients and human beings. The final third of the book offers a comparative look at the “psy-science” approach to Holocaust survival beyond France, particularly in the United States and Israel. He illuminates the peculiar journey of a medical discourse that began in France but took on new forms elsewhere, eventually expanding into nonmedical fields to create the basis of the “traumato-culture” with which we are familiar today. Embedding his analysis of different medical discourses in the sociopolitical history of France in the twentieth century, he also looks at the French Jewish Question as it affected French medicine, the effects of five years of Nazi Occupation, France’s enthusiastic collaboration, and the problems this would pose for postwar collective memory.
Discusses an important yet often misunderstood topic in American history
Camp Chase, located four miles west of Columbus, Ohio, started, as did so many other prisons, as a training camp for eager Union recruits. By late 1861 it was also housing Confederate prisoners. It was also used as quarters for Union soldiers who had been taken prisoner by the Confederacy and released on parole or exchanged. During the four years of the war, Camp Chase developed as a prison camp, reflecting the efforts of both civilian and military officials to fashion a coherent prison policy.
Camp Chase and the Evolution of Union Prison Policy is a careful, thorough, and objective examination of the history and administration of the camp and is of true significance in the literature on the Civil War.
In Captives in Blue, Roger Pickenpaugh examines the ways the Confederate army contended with the growing prison population, the variations in the policies and practices of different Confederate prison camps, the effects these policies and practices had on Union prisoners, and the logistics of prisoner exchanges. He explores conditions that arose from conscious government policy decisions and conditions that were the product of local officials or unique local situations. He also considers how Confederate prisons and policies dealt with African American Union soldiers. Black soldiers held captive in Confederate prisons faced uncertain fates; many former slaves were returned to their former owners, while others faced harsh treatment in the camps. Drawing on prisoner diaries, Pickenpaugh provides compelling first-person accounts of life in prison camps often overlooked by scholars in the field.
This study of Union captives in Confederate prisons is a companion to Roger Pickenpaugh’s earlier groundbreaking book Captives in Gray: The Civil War Prisons of the Union and extends his examination of Civil War prisoner-of-war facilities into the Confederacy.
A Confederate Chronicle presents the remarkable life of Thomas L. Wragg, who served in both the Confederate army and navy and endured incarceration as a prisoner of war. After the war, he undertook a series of jobs, eventually becoming a physician. In 1889, he died tragically at the hands of a man who mistakenly thought he was defending his family’s honor. Pamela Chase Hain uses Wragg’s letters home to his family, friends, and fiancée, as well as his naval notebook and newspaper articles, to give readers direct insight into his life and the lives of those around him.
The son of a respected Savannah physician, Wragg was born into a life of wealth and privilege. A nonconscripted soldier, he left home at eighteen to join the front lines in Virginia. From there, he sent letters home describing the maneuverings of General Joseph E. Johnston’s army in and around Harpers Ferry and Winchester, culminating with the Battle of Bull Run.
In the fall of 1862, Wragg joined the Confederate Navy and trained on the ironclad CSS Georgia before transferring to the CSS Atlanta. Hain uses the notebook that he kept during his training in ordnance and gunnery to provide a rare glimpse into the naval and artillery practices at the time. This notebook also provides evidence of a fledgling Confederate naval “school” prior to the one established on the James River on the CSS Patrick Henry.
The crew of the unfortunate Atlanta was captured on the ship’s maiden voyage, and evidence in the Wragg family papers suggests the capture was not the result of bad luck, as has been claimed. Wragg and the other officers were sent to Fort Warren Prison in Boston Harbor for fifteen months. Wragg’s POW letters reveal the isolation and sense of abandonment the prisoners felt as they waited in hopes of an exchange. The correspondence between Wragg and his fiancée, Josie, after the war illustrates not only the mores of nineteenth-century courtship but also the difficulty of adjustment that many Confederate war veterans faced.
Sadly, Wragg’s life was cut short after he became a successful doctor in Quincy, Florida. Cover-up and intrigue by influential citizens prevented Wragg’s wife from bringing the murderer to justice. A Confederate Chronicle offers an unprecedented look at how the Civil War affected the gentry class of the South. It gives readers a personal view into one man’s struggle with the chaos of life during and after the war, as well as into the struggles of the general society.
Eldest daughter of eight children, the author grew up in Surakarta, Java, in what is now Indonesia. In the months following the bombing of Pearl Harbor, however, Dutch nationals were rounded up by Japanese soldiers and put in internment camps. Her father and brother were sent to separate men’s camps, leaving the author, her mother, and the five younger children in the women’s camp. In this and later seven other prison camps in central Java, their lives gradually deteriorated from early days of fear and crowding to near starvation, forced labor, beatings, and seeing others disappear or die. On the family’s return to Holland after the war, they found a nation recovering from German occupation and largely ignorant of the horror of the Far East experience.
In 2006, four years after Guantanamo Bay prison opened, the Pentagon finally released the names of the 773 men held there,along with 7,000 pages of transcripts from tribunals assessing their status as "enemy combatants". Andy Worthington is the only person to have analyzed every page of these transcripts.
Drawing on these documents,as well as news reports and interviews with lawyers and released detainees, this book reveals, for the first time, the stories of all those imprisoned in Guantanamo.
This book does not make for easy reading, Deprived of the safeguards of the Geneva Conventions, and, for the most part,sold to the Americans by their allies in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the detainees have struggled for five years to have their stories heard. Looking in detail at the circumstances of their capture, and at the coercive interrogations and unsubstantiated allegations that have been used to justify their detention, The Guantanamo Files reveals that the majority of those captured were either Taliban foot soldiers or humanitarian aid workers, religious teachers and economic migrants,who were caught in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The book also uncovers stories of torture in Afghanistan and Guantanamo, and contains new information about the process of "extraordinary rendition" that underpins the "war on terror"'.
Who will speak for the 773 men who have been held in Guantanamo? This passionate and brilliantly detailed book brings their stories to the world for the first time.
The Human Race
Robert Antelme Northwestern University Press, 1998 Library of Congress D805.G3A7513 1998 | Dewey Decimal 940.547243094322
Arrested by the Gestapo and deported to Dachau, Robert Antelme recovered his freedom a year later when François Mitterand, visiting the camp in an official capacity, recognized the dying Antelme and had him spirited to Paris. Antelme's story of his experiences in Germany--his only book--indelibly marked an entire generation, "a work written without hatred, a work of boundless compassion such as that is to be found only in the great Russians."
In 1939, William H. McDougall was a newspaperman from Salt Lake City who quit his job and went to work for the Japan Times, an English-language newspaper in Tokyo, and later for the United Press, for which he covered the Japanese occupation of Shanghai and the fall of the Dutch East Indies (Indonesia). When the ship on which he had escaped from Java was sunk, he reached the island of Sumatra, where he was captured and imprisoned by the Japanese until 1945.
McDougall’s letters to his family offer a rare and detailed look at daily life in Tokyo and in Japanese-occupied Shanghai during the months leading up to the Pearl Harbor attack. After his imprisonment in Sumatra, he began keeping a daily journal of his experiences as a POW. Published here for the first time are the journals he retrieved at the end of World War II.
Written by an articulate and perceptive professional reporter, McDougall's letters and diaries offer an intimate, personal narrative of conditions in wartime East Asia.
By the time of the Vietnam War era, the “Mexican American Generation” had made tremendous progress both socially and politically. However, the number of Mexican Americans in comparison to the number of white prisoners of war (POWs) illustrated the significant discrimination and inequality the Chicano population faced in both military and civilian landscapes. Chicanos were disproportionately “grunts” (infantry), who were more likely to be killed when captured, while pilots and officers were more likely to be both white and held as POWs for negotiating purposes. A fascinating look at the Vietnam War era from a Chicano perspective, “I’m Not Gonna Die in this Damn Place”: Manliness, Identity, and Survival of the Mexican American Vietnam Prisoners of War gives voice to the Mexican American POWs. The stories of these men and their families provide insights to the Chicano Vietnam War experience, while also adding tremendously to the American POW story. This book is an important read for academics and military enthusiasts alike.
Among the finer soldier-diarists of the Civil War, John Edward Dooley first came to the attention of readers when an edition of his wartime journal, edited by Joseph Durkin, was published in 1945. That book, John Dooley, Confederate Soldier, became a widely used resource for historians, who frequently tapped Dooley’s vivid accounts of Second Bull Run, Antietam, and Gettysburg, where he was wounded during Pickett’s Charge and subsequently captured.
As it happens, the 1945 edition is actually a much-truncated version of Dooley’s original journal that fails to capture the full scope of his wartime experience—the oscillating rhythm of life on the campaign trail, in camp, in Union prisons, and on parole. Nor does it recognize how Dooley, the son of a successful Irish-born Richmond businessman, used his reminiscences as a testament to the Lost Cause. John Dooley’s Civil War gives us, for the first time, a comprehensive version of Dooley’s “war notes,” which editor Robert Emmett Curran has reassembled from seven different manuscripts and meticulously annotated. The notes were created as diaries that recorded Dooley’s service as an officer in the famed First Virginia Regiment along with his twenty months as a prisoner of war. After the war, they were expanded and recast years later as Dooley, then studying for the Catholic priesthood, reflected on the war and its aftermath. As Curran points out, Dooley’s reworking of his writings was shaped in large part by his ethnic heritage and the connections he drew between the aspirations of the Irish and those of the white South.
In addition to the war notes, the book includes a prewar essay that Dooley wrote in defense of secession and an extended poem he penned in 1870 on what he perceived as the evils of Reconstruction. The result is a remarkable picture not only of how one articulate southerner endured the hardships of war and imprisonment, but also of how he positioned his own experience within the tragic myth of valor, sacrifice, and crushed dreams of independence that former Confederates fashioned in the postwar era.
Inspiring memoir of Colonel Harold H. Brown, one of the 930 original Tuskegee pilots, whose dramatic wartime exploits and postwar professional successes contribute to this extraordinary account.
Keep Your Airspeed Up: The Story of a Tuskegee Airman is the memoir of an African American man who, through dedication to his goals and vision, overcame the despair of racial segregation to great heights, not only as a military aviator, but also as an educator and as an American citizen.
Unlike other historical and autobiographical portrayals of Tuskegee airmen, Harold H. Brown’s memoir is told from its beginnings: not on the first day of combat, not on the first day of training, but at the very moment Brown realized he was meant to be a pilot. He revisits his childhood in Minneapolis where his fascination with planes pushed him to save up enough of his own money to take flying lessons. Brown also details his first trip to the South, where he was met with a level of segregation he had never before experienced and had never imagined possible.
During the 1930s and 1940s, longstanding policies of racial discrimination were called into question as it became clear that America would likely be drawn into World War II. The military reluctantly allowed for the development of a flight-training program for a limited number of African Americans on a segregated base in Tuskegee, Alabama. The Tuskegee Airmen, as well as other African Americans in the armed forces, had the unique experience of fighting two wars at once: one against Hitler’s fascist regime overseas and one against racial segregation at home.
Colonel Brown fought as a combat pilot with the 332nd Fighter Group during World War II, and was captured and imprisoned in Stalag VII A in Moosburg, Germany, where he was liberated by General George S. Patton on April 29, 1945. Upon returning home, Brown noted with acute disappointment that race relations in the United States hadn’t changed. It wasn’t until 1948 that the military desegregated, which many scholars argue would not have been possible without the exemplary performance of the Tuskegee Airmen.
Examining the largest prisoner-of-war handling operation in U.S. history, this book offers a meticulous account of the myriad problems—as well as the impressive successes—that came with housing 371,000 German POWs on American soil during World War II. Antonio Thompson draws on extensive archival research to probe the various ways in which the U.S. government strove to comply with the Geneva Convention’s mandate that enemy prisoners be moved from the war zone and given food, shelter, and clothing equal to that provided for American soldiers.
While the prisoners became a ready source of manpower for the labor-starved American home front and received small wages in return, their stay in the United States generated more than a few difficulties, which included not only daunting logistics but also violence within the camps. Such violence was often blamed on Nazi influence and control; however, as Thompson points out, only a few of the prisoners were actually Nazis. Because the Germans had cobbled together military forces that included convicts, their own POWs, volunteers from neutral nations, and conscripts from occupied countries, the bonds that held these soldiers together amid the pressures of combat dissolved once they were placed behind barbed wire. When these “men in German uniform,” who were not always Germans, donned POW garb, their former social, racial, religious, and ethnic tensions quickly reemerged.
To counter such troubles, American authorities organized various activities—including sports, arts, education, and religion—within the POW camps; some prisoners even participated in an illegal denazification program created by the U.S. government. Despite the problems, Thompson argues, the POW-housing program proved largely successful, as Americans maintained their reputation for fairness and humane treatment during a time of widespread turmoil.
Antonio Thompson is an assistant professor of history at Austin Peay State University and the author of <i>German Jackboots on Kentucky Bluegrass: Housing German Prisoners of War in Kentucky, 1942–1946</i>. He has also taught at the U.S. Military Academy at West Point.
Not Without Honor threads together the stories of three American POWs—Carano; his buddy Bill Blackmon, who was also at Stalag 17 b; and John C. Bitzer, who survived the brutal “Death March” from northern Germany to liberation in April 1945. At times the journal reads like a thriller as he records air battles and escape attempts. Yet in their most gripping accounts, these POWs ruminate on psychological survival. The sense of community they formed was instrumental to their endurance. This compelling book allows the reader to journey with these young men as they bore firsthand witness to the best and worst of human nature.
Rescued in 1945 from Dachau--where François Mitterand, his onetime comrade in the resistance, recognized him among the thousands of quarantined prisoners--Robert Antelme set out to do what seemed "unimaginable," to describe not only his experience but the humanity of his captors. The result, The Human Race, was called by George Perec "the finest example in contemporary French writing of what literature can be."
In this volume, the extraordinary nature and extent of Robert Antelme's accomplishment, and of the reverberations he set in motion in French life and literature, finds eloquent expression. The pieces Antelme wrote for journals--including essays on "principles put to the test," man as the "basis of right," and the question of revenge--appear here alongside appreciations of The Human Race by authors from Perec to Maurice Blanchot to Sarah Kofman. Also included are Antelme's personal recollections and interviews with, among others, Dionys Mascolo (who brought Antelme back from Dachau), Marguerite Duras (Antelme's wife, who tells of his return from Germany), and Mitterand.
In October 1785, American statesman John Jay acknowledged that the more his countrymen “are treated ill abroad, the more we shall unite and consolidate at home.” Behind this simple statement lies a complicated history. From the British impressment of patriots during the Revolution to the capture of American sailors by Algerian corsairs and Barbary pirates at the dawn of the nineteenth century, stories of Americans imprisoned abroad helped jumpstart democratic debate as citizens acted on their newly unified identity to demand that their government strengthen efforts to free their fellow Americans. Deliberations about the country’s vulnerabilities in the Atlantic world reveal America’s commitment to protecting the legacy of the Revolution as well as growing political divisions.
Drawing on newspaper accounts, prisoner narratives, and government records, David J. Dzurec III explores how stories of American captivity in North America, Europe, and Africa played a critical role in the development of American political culture, adding a new layer to our understanding of foreign relations and domestic politics in the early American republic.
From the shooting of an unarmed prisoner at Montgomery, Alabama, to a successful escape from Belle Isle, from the swelling floodwaters overtaking Cahaba Prison to the inferno that finally engulfed Andersonville, A Perfect Picture of Hell is a collection of harrowing narratives by soldiers from the 12th Iowa Infantry who survived imprisonment in the South during the Civil War.
Editors Ted Genoways and Hugh Genoways have collected the soldiers' startling accounts from diaries, letters, speeches, newspaper articles, and remembrances. Arranged chronologically, the eyewitness descriptions of the battles of Shiloh, Corinth, Jackson, and Tupelo, together with accompanying accounts of nearly every famous Confederate prison, create a shared vision
Retired Captain Pao Yang was a Hmong airman trained by the U.S. Air Force and CIA to fly T-28D aircraft for the U.S. Secret War in Laos. However, his plane was shot down during a mission in June 1972. Yang survived, but enemy forces captured him and sent him to a POW camp in northeastern Laos. He remained imprisoned for four years after the United States withdrew from Vietnam because he fought on the American side of the war.
Prisoner of Wars shows the impact the U.S Secret War in Laos had on Hmong combatants and their families. Chia Vang uses oral histories thatpoignantly recount Yang’s story and the deeply personal struggles his loved ones—who feared he had died—experienced in both Southeast Asia and the United States. As Yang eventually rebuilt his life in America, he grappled with issues of freedom and trauma.
Yang’s life provides a unique lens through which to better understand the lasting impact of the wars in Southeast Asia and the diverse journeys that migrants from Asia made over the last two centuries. Prisoner of Wars makes visible an aspect of the collateral damage that has been left out of dominant Vietnam War narratives.
Prisoners of the Empire
Sarah Kovner Harvard University Press, 2020 Library of Congress D805.J3K68 2020 | Dewey Decimal 940.547252
A pathbreaking account of World War II POW camps, challenging the longstanding belief that the Japanese Empire systematically mistreated Allied prisoners.
In only five months, from the attack on Pearl Harbor in December 1941 to the fall of Corregidor in May 1942, the Japanese Empire took prisoner more than 140,000 Allied servicemen and 130,000 civilians from a dozen different countries. From Manchuria to Java, Burma to New Guinea, the Japanese army hastily set up over seven hundred camps to imprison these unfortunates. In the chaos, 40 percent of American POWs did not survive. More Australians died in captivity than were killed in combat.
Sarah Kovner offers the first portrait of detention in the Pacific theater that explains why so many suffered. She follows Allied servicemen in Singapore and the Philippines transported to Japan on “hellships” and singled out for hard labor, but also describes the experience of guards and camp commanders, who were completely unprepared for the task. Much of the worst treatment resulted from a lack of planning, poor training, and bureaucratic incoherence rather than an established policy of debasing and tormenting prisoners. The struggle of POWs tended to be greatest where Tokyo exercised the least control, and many were killed by Allied bombs and torpedoes rather than deliberate mistreatment.
By going beyond the horrific accounts of captivity to actually explain why inmates were neglected and abused, Prisoners of the Empire contributes to ongoing debates over POW treatment across myriad war zones, even to the present day.
The stories of seven men and one woman from Indiana who survived the horrors of captivity under the Japanese in the Pacific during World War II are captured in vivid detail. These Hoosiers were ordered to surrender following the fall of Bataan and Corregidor in 1942. It was the largest surrender of American armed forces in U.S. history and the beginning of three years of hell starting with the infamous Bataan Death March, facing brutal conditions in POW camps in the Philippines, and horrific journeys to Japan for some onboard what came to be known as “hellships.” Former Indiana governor Edgar D. Whitcomb, one of those featured in the book, notes that the American prisoners had to endure “unimaginable misery and brutality at the hands of sadistic Japanese guards,” as they were routinely beaten and many were executed for the most minor offenses, or for mere sport. In addition to Whitcomb, those profiled include Irvin Alexander, Harry Brown, William Clark, James Duckworth, Eleanor Garen, Melvin McCoy, and Hugh Sims.
A First-hand Account of Prison Experience in the American Revolution
“Among the many events which took place during the Revolutionary War from its commencement to its termination [are] the cruelties inflicted upon that unfortunate class of men who had the misfortune to be numbered among the prisoners [of the British] and more particularly those whom the dreadful chance of war had placed on board their prison ships at New York.” So begins the remarkable narrative of Thomas Dring. In 1824, Dring was an aging man of 65, retired in his native state of Rhode Island. Forty-two years before, he, like thousands of other young men, had been caught up in the American cause. In 1782, he had been captured by the British and sentenced to the infamous prison ship Jersey, a demasted hulk anchored in the East River off New York City. It is estimated that more than 11,000 men perished on the British prison ships over the course of the war, and their bones regularly washed up on the shore long after hostilities ceased. Dring survived to tell the tale, and in 1824, he decided to do just that. He was motivated partly because the fate of the prisoners was beginning to be doubted, that their hardships were thought to have been grossly exaggerated, and even that the entire experience had never occurred.
This book publishes for the first time the complete text of Dring’s handwritten manuscript, a major primary-source document, in which he describes the horrible conditions, treatment by guards, and experiences that he and others endured during captivity. Recollections of Life on the Prison Ship Jersey is a plea not to forget but instead to remember the inhumanity of the captors and the sacrifices of the captives—a message that continues to resonate today. Editor David Swain has provided an introductory essay and extensive notes that contain background information and historical documentation to accompany and illuminate the original manuscript.
Stark Decency is a window into the events of two vastly different worlds: German combat veterans captured in North Africa and Normandy, and the small New Hampshire logging town which found itself hosting the prison camp. Each side was forced to confront its prejudices and fears, and examine the merits and flaws of its ideology. Then, an astonishing thing happened: in their rural isolation, sharing harsh weather conditions and the pinch of wartime rationing, friendships began to develop. Prisoners and their guards sometimes even worked together to meet the daily pulpwood quotas, and little handmade gifts to the local villagers cemented friendships that continue to this day.
Valleys of the Shadow is the previously unpublished account of Captain Reuben Clark’s first-hand experiences as a Confederate officer, a prisoner of war, and a post war civilian living in a conquered state.
Captain Clark was a twenty-seven-year-old Knoxville businessman when the first shots of the Civil War were fired in 1861. Like many southern gentlemen, Clark was opposed to secession but could not desert his family and friends. Enlisting as a first lieutenant in the Confederacy’s Third Tennessee Infantry Regiment, he spent his first night as a soldier on the bloody battlefield of Manasses. Clark’s recollections of Manasses and the battles and skirmishes that followed pinpoint his regiment’s activities in previously undocumented areas while providing valuable analyses of battles from a participant’s point of view and discussing the irony many soldiers felt when battle pitted them against men they had known before the war in business, politics, and society.
Captured after the battle of Morristown in the fall of 1864, Clark was jailed in Knoxville, then under Federal control. His account of the eight months he spent as a prisoner—his harsh treatment, a near-fatal illness, the false accusations of traitorous activities—offer a detailed description of the physical and legal battles of a Confederate prisoner of war fighting to obtain his freedom. Clark’s post war experiences relate his struggles as a former Rebel living in a conquered state, reflecting the deeply divided loyalties of East Tennessee that continued for years after the war’s end.
This first book in the Voices of the Civil War series shares the story of a man who remained sensible of his kinship with those he was forced to call his enemies. Written a quarter-century after the war began, Clark's memories vividly bring to life the tragedy that was the Civil War.
Willene B. Clark, a granddaughter of Captain Clark, is a professor of art history at Marlboro College, Marlboro, Vermont.
Gene Jacobsen was a nineteen-year-old Idaho ranch kid when he decided to join the Army Air Corps in September 1940. By December 1941 he was supply sergeant for the Twentieth Pursuit Squadron at Clark Field in the Philippines. Five months later he was a captive of the Imperial Japanese Army, enduring the Bataan death march and subsequent horrors in the Philippines and Japan. Of the 207 officers and men who made up Jacobsen’s squadron at the beginning of the war, sixty-five survived to return to the United States. We Refused to Die recounts Jacobsen’s struggle, against all odds, to remain one of those sixty-five men.
In engaging, direct prose, Jacobsen’s three-and-a-half year experience as a prisoner of war takes the reader on a brutal and harrowing march through hatred and forgiveness, fortitude and freedom. We Refused to Die is an honest memoir that shines light on one of history’s darkest moments.
Often overlooked in accounts of World War II is the Soviet Union's quiet yet brutal campaign against Polish citizens, a campaign that included, we now know, war crimes for which the Soviet and Russian governments only recently admitted culpability. Standing in the shadow of the Holocaust, this episode of European history is often overlooked. Wesley Adamczyk's gripping memoir, When God Looked the Other Way, now gives voice to the hundreds of thousands of victims of Soviet barbarism.
Adamczyk was a young Polish boy when he was deported with his mother and siblings from their comfortable home in Luck to Soviet Siberia in May of 1940. His father, a Polish Army officer, was taken prisoner by the Red Army and eventually became one of the victims of the Katyn massacre, in which tens of thousands of Polish officers were slain at the hands of the Soviet secret police. The family's separation and deportation in 1940 marked the beginning of a ten-year odyssey in which the family endured fierce living conditions, meager food rations, chronic displacement, and rampant disease, first in the Soviet Union and then in Iran, where Adamczyk's mother succumbed to exhaustion after mounting a harrowing escape from the Soviets. Wandering from country to country and living in refugee camps and the homes of strangers, Adamczyk struggled to survive and maintain his dignity amid the horrors of war.
When God Looked the Other Way is a memoir of a boyhood lived in unspeakable circumstances, a book that not only illuminates one of the darkest periods of European history but also traces the loss of innocence and the fight against despair that took root in one young boy. It is also a book that offers a stark picture of the unforgiving nature of Communism and its champions. Unflinching and poignant, When God Looked the Other Way will stand as a testament to the trials of a family during wartime and an intimate chronicle of episodes yet to receive their historical due.
“Adamczyk recounts the story of his own wartime childhood with exemplary precision and immense emotional sensitivity, presenting the ordeal of one family with the clarity and insight of a skilled novelist. . . . I have read many descriptions of the Siberian odyssey and of other forgotten wartime episodes. But none of them is more informative, more moving, or more beautifully written than When God Looked the Other Way.”—From the Foreword by Norman Davies, author of Europe: A History and Rising ’44: TheBattleforWarsaw
“A finely wrought memoir of loss and survival.”—Publishers Weekly
“Adamczyk’s unpretentious prose is well-suited to capture that truly awful reality.” —Andrew Wachtel, Chicago Tribune Books
“Mr. Adamczyk writes heartfelt, straightforward prose. . . . This book sheds light on more than one forgotten episode of history.”—Gordon Haber, New York Sun
“One of the most remarkable World War II sagas I have ever read. It is history with a human face.”—Andrew Beichman, Washington Times