Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Eve of a Hundred Nights by Bill Lascher ****

Melville and Annalee Jacoby were reporters in Philippines in 1941. If you didn't immediately ask yourself, "Wasn't the attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941?" you might lack the context to read this fascinating story of the open years of World War II in the Pacific. You might also want to refresh your memory of the battles on Bataan and Corregidor.

Eve of a Hundred Nights by Bill Lascher recounts the story of Melville Jaconby and Annalee Whitmore, two Stanford graduates interested in adventure, excitement and writing. Much like idealistic and privileged young people today, Mel and Annalee were free to follow their dreams, and ultimately succeeded through persistence, talent, and connections.

For example, Annalee wanted to be a screenwriter in Hollywood. In a short time, she had a seven-year contract with MGM and wrote five screenplays which were produced. Having achieved this goal, she quickly abandoned her contract to move to China, a move facilitated by her college friends and contacts.

Much like current college graduates, Melville followed his muse by putting together multiple part-time and freelance projects to support himself, until his network landed him the job of Time bureau chief for the Pacific, based in Manila.

The position is Manila was a mixed blessing. While it provided him with sufficient stability to marry Annalee, it also place the couple in Manila at the opening of WWII during a time when the U. S. "Eruope First" strategy starved (literally) the Pacific forces. Refer here to Bataan and Corregidor.

For anyone interested in WWII, this book will certainly offer some new view and insights into the Pacific war through the experiences of these two reporters.

Some interesting details: During WWII China sent pandas to the U. S. to build support. A national naming contest had the winning entries: Pan-Duh and Pan-Dee. The famous Pan Am Clipper was a Boeing 314 - a sea plane. A Japanese submarine shelled shelled California.

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