Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides

Brendan’s Alternate Tagline for Ghost Soldiers:

You’ll cancel your hibachi reservation after reading this.

Quick synopsis:

The story of the jailbreak for the survivors of the Bataan Death March.

Fun Fact Non-History People Will Like:

What did the U.S. Army do when their soldiers got tired in World War II? Amphetamines! (Club music begins)

Fun Fact for History Nerds:

Many American prisoners of war were shipped off to Japan right before the expected invasion by the U.S. was to begin.

My Take on Ghost Soldiers:

Is there anything better than a prison break by the good guys? Yes, a prison break by the good guys where they whoop some serious ass.

Ghost Soldiers tells two stories which converge at the end. The first is the story of the Bataan Death March and some of the survivors as they fight to survive in a Japanese prison camp. Sides is the type of author who really dives deep into the backstories before a big event. I also read his In the Kingdom of Ice and he does the same here where he gives you some very important figures and follows them throughout the narrative. He spreads out the spotlight enough to give you a full understanding of all the events taking place.

The other narrative is the U.S. Army Rangers chosen to break out the survivors left in the Japanese prison camp. While the ending is not in doubt, Sides makes sure the reader knows the prison break could have gone sideways (pun intended!) at numerous points.

I would say the one weakness comes at the actual prison break. Sides does a great job building the tension that the climax seems to get short shrift. It doesn’t ruin the book, but it does feel a little lopsided.


Good book that even non-history nerds can enjoy. Buy it here!

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Ghost Soldiers by Hampton Sides
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