Hell Wouldn't Stop: An Oral History of the Battle of Wake Island
Author: Chet Cunningham
Binding: Paperback, pages
In this gritty, poignant, often disturbing oral chronicle of one of the first and most tragic military engagements in World War II, Chet Cunningham gives the gallant U.S. defenders of Wake Island—among them his older brother, Kenneth, then a private in the Marines—their long-overlooked due. For Kenneth Cunningham, a serviceman in the defense battalion stationed on Wake Island, World War II began on December 8, 1941, just five hours after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. It ended on December 23. That day the Marines on Wake Island—their twelve Wildcat fighter planes lost, their forces diminished—faced an overwhelming enemy invasion, with the Japanese arriving in so many ships that, as one eyewitness put it, they could have walked from one to the other on the open sea. Private Cunningham and his fellow Marines fought intrepidly, until their commanding officers ordered them to surrender. Their term in hell, though, had just begun. When the Marines laid down their arms they were stripped naked. With their hands bound, they sat naked in the hot sun all day; at night they shivered in the cold. They suffered endless days at sea jammed in the holds of ships that took them to prison camps in China and Japan. Forty-four months later, liberated at last, they would return home unheralded and largely forgotten. Their often horrific, frequently heroic story now stands recorded, for the most part in the words of the soldiers, sailors, Marines, and civilian personnel who were there, as well as of their wives and widows, in startling, unforgettable detail. Eight pages of black-and-white photographs add to this gripping reconstruction of the sixteen-day battle for Wake Island and its aftermath.
MWSA 2006 Bronze Medal for Non-Fiction, History
The Tale of Hell on Wake Island by the Survivors. The story about the battle for Wake Island, at the outbreak of WWII is a great tale made even better by first hand remembrances and accounts of those who were there and survived. Hell Wouldn’t Stop – An Oral History Of The Battle of Wake Island is a brilliantly reconstructed history that needed to be told! This story is good history that is made even better by great writing. It is a story that needed to be saved for future generations. This is prolific author Chet Cunningham’s best work to date (he has written and had published over 300 books).
I could not put down this history book. Normally, historic books are not riveting stories, but this is a thriller as much as a tribute to those men who tell their stories. The author skillfully weaves his comments and facts into the story telling by the men who were there. I just cannot say enough about how good of a read this book is. The author certainly honors all those men who fought there, including the author’s own brother who inspired the book. THIS IS A MUST READ BOOK!
Reviewed by: Bill McDonald (2006)