Race Against Death: The Greatest POW Rescue of World War II by Deborah Hopkinson

Race Against Death: The Greatest POW Rescue of World War II by Deborah Hopkinson. Scholastic Focus, 2023. 9781338746167

Rating: 1-5 (5 is an excellent or a Starred review) 5

Format: Paperback ARC, published April 2023

What did you like about the book? So much is written about World War II as it occurred in Europe, about the Nazis and the Holocaust, but much less is written about what occurred in the Pacific.  When the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in December 1941, the US officially joined the war but FDR was persuaded to concentrate efforts on stopping the Nazis, not the Japanese. The Japanese attacked the Philippines on two consecutive days in December 1941, following their attack on Pearl Harbor. Thousands of Americans and Filipino soldiers lost their lives or were taken as prisoners of war as the Japanese took control of the Philippines. 30-40% of those taken captive died due to starvation, dysentery, torture and murder.  The infamous Bataan Death March, where sick and starved POWs were forced to walk 65 miles from one prison camp to another, is well documented but still ignored in documentation for the school-age audience.  These men all but lost hope until they were finally rescued in January of 1945.  Hopkinson embellished her story with copious photographs and maps, personal histories and horrendous facts.

An epilogue is included along with a timeline of events, resources to explore, bibliography and source notes.

Anything you did not like about the book?  No, except that being a pre-published edition, much back information is missing including an index.

To whom would you recommend this book? Anyone wishing to learn about World War II as it was experienced in the Philippines following the invasion by the Japanese in December 1941 will be rewarded with these first-hand accounts.

Who should buy this book? Elementary, middle, high school and public libraries.

Where would you shelve it? 940.54

Should we (librarians) put this on the top of our “to read” piles?  Yes.

Reviewer’s Name, Library (or school), City: Katrina Yurenka, Retired Librarian, Contributor, Youth Services Book Review

Date of Review:  February 3, 2023

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