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Women Heroes of World War II --- The Pacific Theater: 15 Stories of Resistance, Rescue, Sabotage, and Survival

Review

Women Heroes of World War II --- The Pacific Theater: 15 Stories of Resistance, Rescue, Sabotage, and Survival

“War can teach you so much about evil, and so much about good.” --- Zainab Salbi.

Never before have these words been so true. In WOMEN HEROES OF WORLD WAR II: Pacific Theater, readers are introduced to women who lost so much, but still had the courage to persevere and help others. For Vivian Bullwinkel, it was when she became the sole survivor of a massacre by Japanese soldiers, surviving without food or shelter for days in the jungle all while tending to a fatally wounded British soldier while wounded herself. For Sybil Kathigasu, it was when she was imprisoned and beaten for several weeks by the Japanese for giving medical attention to Chinese guerrilla fighters, all while never revealing a single piece of information. For Elizabeth Choy, it was when she lived the rest of her life hating war, not her tormentors, after enduring six month of starvation and torture by the Japanese military police.    

The writer of WOMEN HEROES OF WORLD WAR I and WOMEN HEROES OF WORLD WAR II, Kathryn J. Atwood, introduces readers to not only the Bataan Death March, the Rape of Nanking and Pearl Harbor, but also to 15 women who risked their lives fighting for what they believed in, bringing influential stories of hope, resistance, and survival. It is these stories that makes WOMEN HEROES OF WORLD WAR II: Pacific Theater a compelling read.

"Learning about history can seem daunting, but this is the perfect book to get you started. It is an easy read, structured nicely, and its stories are compelling...."

While the stories themselves were interesting, I found it somewhat hard to get into. Each chapter is short, only 10 to 20 pages long, so you don’t really get that much information about each woman. A lot of the time I found myself wanting more, and that frustrated me a little bit. If you want a heavily detailed account of the women in World War II in the Pacific Theater, this is not the book for you, but if you want to learn about these heroes, but don’t really know where to start, this book acts an effective jumping off point to learn and find more detailed accounts of their lives. Within the book this is made easy since at the end of every story there is a section titled “Learn More," where the sources and other places where you can find more information regarding the particular woman are printed.

If you know nothing about World War II and the specific battles and events that took place, never fear! There are blocks of context information scattered within each of the chapters. Usually half a page long, these are sectioned off from the rest of the text and give a brief description of war events and strategic plans as to help the reader understand what is going on. For things that I didn’t know these were actually very helpful, and I can imagine if you really know nothing about World War II that these would be a lifesaver. However, to someone who knows their history or took a history class about World War II I can also imagine that these would seem extremely simplified.

If you have little to no idea about any of the specifics of World War II in the Pacific and want to learn more but don’t know where to start, I wholeheartedly recommend this book to you. It is the perfect starting point to learn more about Allied heroes. But if you are a total history buff and read textbooks for fun, this might be a little too oversimplified for you.

Learning about history can seem daunting, but this is the perfect book to get you started. It is an easy read, structured nicely, and its stories are compelling, creating an easy to understand summary of the events of the involvement of women in World War II.  

Reviewed by Zoe I., Teen Board Member on October 13, 2016

Women Heroes of World War II --- The Pacific Theater: 15 Stories of Resistance, Rescue, Sabotage, and Survival
by Kathryn Atwood

  • Publication Date: October 1, 2016
  • Genres: History, Nonfiction, Women's History
  • Hardcover: 240 pages
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press
  • ISBN-10: 161373168X
  • ISBN-13: 9781613731680