Thursday, July 7, 2011

By Sword and Fire

A review of a memoir about the destruction of Manila during World War II. It is of interest to me since my family was there. Share

1 comment:

Enbrethiliel said...


Thank you for the link, Elena! How could I have forgotten that your family was there at the time?

I'm still going through the second part of the book--Aluit's painstaking recreation of every long day of the liberation, based on diaries and eyewitness testimony--and find that, as gripping as it is, I can read only a few pages each day.

Just this afternoon, I read about some Spanish prisoners who were allowed by the Japanese soldiers standing guard to collect some food that had been left in the streets. It turned out that the prisoners' families had been bringing the food for them, for the past four days that the prisoners had been starved (no food, no water) in their tightly packed cells, but that the soldiers had been "confiscating" it. That day, however, the soldiers grew tired of the food (some of which was also beginning to spoil) and decided they might as well let the prisoners have it. Four men were allowed to collect it all, but they had no containers in which to carry it. Then one of them saw a half-burned book in the street, and soon they were tearing it up, page by page, to make little dinner parcels. The book was completely destroyed by the time they finished, and yet each prisoner got only a handful of food.

And that is one of the lighter anecdotes.

Now I know why my grandfather, who was a teenage boy at this time, has never spoken about the liberation or the rest of the war with anyone.