War is hell, no matter if you are the soldier fighting the enemy, the medic tending the wounded or the civilian caught in the crossfire. Mary Cronk Farrell’s informative, sometimes upsetting book follows a group of U.S. military nurses who had been stationed, quite happily, in the Philippines before Pearl Harbor. “I had no idea there was going to be a war,” one later lamented. “That’s how naive I was.” “Pure Grit” begins with a map featuring Luzon, the country’s largest island and the location of Manila, Bataan and a number of POW camps during World War II. The well-
researched narrative, however, is less about military campaigns than about the drama of the people on the ground, particularly those 67 nurses who became prisoners of war. All they knew about Allied strategy was that they weren’t being rescued. Amid near-constant bombing, food ran short and trenches were dug around makeshift hospitals to protect staff, patients and medical supplies. Thousands of people were transported to a massive underground facility that was safe from bombs but not from “the stench of sweat, blood, disinfectants, anesthetics, overused latrines, and wounds with decomposing flesh.” Farrell doesn’t spare her young readers any grim details, including the physical effects of starvation, malaria and dysentery, as well as the mental strain of caring for the sick, the injured and the dying under harrowing conditions. She includes the challenges these women faced and the joy they felt on returning home. As awful as history can be, now might be the right time to introduce the next generation to this important period.
— Abby McGanney Nolan
Fukushima remembrance, Pakistan’s drought, Saturn’s second-largest moon and more.
How American World War II
Nurses Survived Battle and Prison Camp
in the Pacific
By Mary Cronk Farrell
Abrams. $24.95. Ages 10 to 16
The fantastic sequel to the Newbery Honor winner “Three Times Lucky.”
This informative, sometimes upsetting book follows a group of military nurses during World War II.
This faux catalogue from the future raises sobering questions about the survival of birds.
‘Fatal Vision’ remains a nearly unmatched clinic in muscular storytelling
Annual award from the Arts Club of Washington will be presented April 26.
The list of finalists for the award was dominated by American writers
Some of the biggest names in the tech industry are behind this book-delivery app.
Lana may be a 4.0 pyschology major, but can she spot a psychopath?
John Feinstein explores the minor leagues and the players who never make it to the bigs
Peniel Joseph’s biography of the civil rights leader provides persuasive explanations for his appeal.
One of the most accomplished WWII historians turns his attention on the allied bombing campaign.
Suzanne Mettler examines who politics ruined higher education in America.
‘The Scarlet Sisters’ is the account of two women who upended Guilded Age views on sex, love and politics
Shabana Mir looks at how Muslim American students confront social norms, such as dating and alcohol.
SuperFan badge holders consistently post smart, timely comments about Washington area sports and teams.
Culture Connoisseur Badge
Culture Connoisseurs consistently offer thought-provoking, timely comments on the arts, lifestyle and entertainment.
Fact Checker Badge
Fact Checkers contribute questions, information and facts to The Fact Checker.
Washingtologists consistently post thought-provoking, timely comments on events, communities, and trends in the Washington area.
Post Writer Badge
This commenter is a Washington Post editor, reporter or producer.
Weather Watcher Badge
Weather Watchers consistently offer thought-provoking, timely comments on climates and forecasts.
World Watcher Badge
World Watchers consistently offer thought-provoking, timely comments on international affairs.
Post Contributor Badge
This commenter is a Washington Post contributor. Post contributors aren’t staff, but may write articles or columns. In some cases, contributors are sources or experts quoted in a story.
Washington Post reporters or editors recommend this comment or reader post.
You must be logged in to report a comment.
You must be logged in to recommend a comment.