bookrev: Bataan Diary by Chris Schaefer

5 stars: Fluidly written, well researched, a story sometimes forgotten that should never be ignored.

Bataan Diary is the true story of Major Frank Loyd and his wife Evelyn. Stationed in Bataan in the Philippines at the beginning of World War II they are separated by the impending Japanese invasion, with Evelyn going home to the United States and Frank staying to fight.

They were separated for almost four years.

Chris Schaefer rebuilt their story from diaries that Frank hid while he was behind enemy lines, Evelyns diaries and letters, interviews and meticulous research. He writes a riveting story of survival, as Frank evades capture, faces malaria, starvation, desperation and dispair, while planning and awaiting General Douglas MacAuthur’s eminent return. Evelyn’s story is almost as difficult, as she has no news of Frank, not knowing if he is captured, dead or alive.

Schaefer tells their story against the backdrop of the events in the Philippines under Japanese occupation and the larger story of the overall War in the Pacific. Describing the native Filipinos, Japanese atrocities, American bravery and indecision, Schaefer paints neither hero or goat, but lets his research tell the story.

A well put-together, well researched book, who’s writing is well paced, Bataan Diary is recommended for those interested in history, war, survival and stories that show what man is capable of.

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