About the Book
This is a gripping eyewitness account of internment during World War II
in the Philippines. Van Sickle and her husband, Charles, were among a
group of foreigners who found themselves in the wrong place at the
wrong time. Trapped in Manila after its surrender to the Japanese in
1942, they were incarcerated in the vast 48-acre campus of Santo
Tomás University, the only place in the city large enough to
accommodate all the prisoners. The university grounds were enclosed on
three sides by high concrete walls and iron bars; Santo Tomás
turned out to be “a made-to-order concentration camp.”
Every day spent on this 17th century campus was a struggle for survival.
Van Sickle offers a fascinating, detailed and insightful account of
life at Santo Tomás. The prisoners—5,000 at the
outset—were thrown on their own resources for food and the
simplest types of comfort. The internment camp became a kind of school
of human relations: additional curricula forced upon the prisoners, the
author says good-humoredly, were Entomology, the science of bed bugs;
Structural Engineering, the art of sleeping on a cot; Chemistry, or
washing clothes; Philosophy, or waiting in line; Industrial
Engineering, opening a can; Physical Education, or the missing drink.
As they suffered together, the internees managed to form a community of
sorts that sustained them until their liberation in February, 1945.
Van Sickle’s story is a unique and personal narrative, and her
retelling of the liberation of the camp is dramatic and powerful.
“The story is unique and fascinating to read . . . a well-written
"Involving memoir of a woman caught with her husband behind enemy lines
after the fall of Manila. . . . A valuable addition to the history of
". . . this valuable glimpse of ordinary people confronted with the
spectre of war has a terrific finish."––Booklist
". . . a marvelous unearthed treasure of a first
HISTORY / BIOGRAPHY
5 1/2 x 8 1/2 , B&W Illustrations