May 25, 2006
Maybe you read the quotation in today’s paper from New Hampshire author Howard Mansfield about his interview yesterday for C-SPAN-2’s Books TV program.
“You always come away from these things rewriting what you said in your mind,” Mansfield said.
I was one of the other authors interviewed at Gibson’s Bookstore, but it had been a while since my last such appearance. I had forgotten this “what I should have said” aspect to the process. Of course, it washed over my brain right after the interview.
But this was my fault, not the fault of the process. I was talking for the first time to a reporter about a book I have been working on for three years in my spare time, a book that is due at the publisher next week.
What I had failed to do was prepare. Preparation in this case means distilling what the book is about and the two or three most important points you want to make about it before an interviewer asks you about it.
Shortly after yesterday’s interview, I knew just what to say.
Since I probably won’t get a second chance on radio or TV for months, please allow me to rehearse here.
The book is Too Dead To Die: A Memoir of Bataan and Beyond. I am the co-author with Steve Raymond, who actually survived the Bataan Death March and 3½ years as a POW of the Japanese.
The theme of the book is survival. Steve endured horrific hardships. He ate bugs, rats, silkworms and rotten fish guts in hopes of getting protein in his diet. He suffered cruelty, desperation, illness and indifference and witnessed death so often he became inured to it. He was in Japan when B-29s rained bombs on its major cities. And he lived to tell about it.
The Bataan story is an old one, but rising generations probably know little or nothing about it. Steve kept a diary during captivity and first drafted his memoir beginning in 1946, before time had smoothed over his memories of the experience. When I first laid eyes on the manuscript, its authenticity and immediacy jumped off the page. I knew I had been entrusted with a historical account that should be not only preserved but also published.
World War II soldiers are dying off rapidly, many without having shared their stories. This is one that will soon be told, and I am grateful for the chance to help make it happen.
Posted by Mike Pride at May 25, 2006 06:03 PM
Congratulations on a year of blogging, Mike. It's harder than it looks. Congratulations, too, on the book. The cruelty & desperation of the war in the Pacific should not be forgotten lest we grow too fond of "The Good War."
Posted by: Brendan Wolfe at May 25, 2006 08:58 PM
I am looking forward to the book you and Stephen Raymond wrote. Stephen and my late cousin Charles S. B. Fuhrmann served together in the 48th Material Squadron in the US and Phillipines. My cousin died at Camp O'Donnell and Stephen has provided me with much information and thoughts about the unit and the events.
Posted by: Don Fuhrmann at July 27, 2006 02:46 PM