Taken Captive: A Japanese POW's Story
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More About This Title Taken Captive: A Japanese POW's Story


"I do not know whether I dozed off or passed out, but the nextthing I remember is gradually becoming aware of a blunt objectstriking my body over and over. Just as I realized it was a bootkicking me in the side, I felt my arm being grabbed roughly, and Ireturned to full consciousness.

"One GI had hold of my right arm, and another had his rifle pointedat me, nearly touching me.

"'Don't move. We're taking you prisoner,' the one with the riflesaid."

On January 25, 1945, Private Ooka Shohei of the Japanese ImperialArmy was captured by American forces in the Philippines. Near deathfrom starvation and acute malaria, he was nursed back to health byhis captors and shipped off to a POW camp. Taken Captive is hispowerful and poignant account of life as a prisoner of war. Longregarded as a literary classic in Japan, this extraordinary memoiris appearing in English for the first time.

There are no epic battles or grand scale heroics. This is anintimate, gripping, and ultimately enlightening true story of asophisticated, middle-aged scholar thrown into a primitive strugglefor survival. It is filled with moments of sublimeordinariness--prisoners passing time by playing "20 Questions"--andheartstopping encounters--a lone soldier decides whether or not toshoot an unsuspecting enemy soldier.

The harsh conditions, the daily routines that occupy a prisoner'stime, and above all, the psychological struggles and behavioralquirks of captives forced to live in close confinement are conveyedwith devastating simplicity and candor. Throughout, the authorconstantly probes his own conscience, questioning motivations anddecisions. What emerges is a multileveled portrait of an individualdetermined to retain his humanity in an uncivilizedenvironment.

In Taken Captive, Ooka Shohei provides much more than anunprecedented look at the POW experience from a Japanese point ofview. His stirring account offers a penetrating exploration ofJapanese society, and its values, as embodied by the microcosm ofhis fellow POWs. Recalling his wartime experiences, Ooka Shohei hascreated a brilliant work of rare honesty, insight, and emotionalsubtlety.


OOKA SHOHEI (1909-1988) was a celebrated Japanese novelist and literary critic, and author of the award-winning World War II novels, Fires on the Plain and The Battle of Leyte.


My Capture.

San Jose Field Hospital.

Rainy Tacloban.

Sunny Palo.

Living as POWs.

Brothers in Arms.



August 10.

New Prisoners and Old.


Going Home.

Nishiya Company Chronicle.