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the stragglers by e j kahn jr

The Stragglers by E.J. Kahn, Jr.


New York : Random House, 1962. First Edition. Hardcover. 176 pages ; 20 cm. $3.95 dust jacket. Owner name written on flyleaf. In very good condition with firm binding, clean and unmarked pages.

"The only thing we had in common was a determination to live."

These words were spoken by a Japanese soldier who, with several companions, hid out for sixteen years on tiny Guam refusing to believe World War II was over.

Their fellow Japanese called them zanryusha (stragglers), and after Japan surrendered in August of 1945, singly and in small groups they escaped into the jungle. Many of them set up secret communities on various Pacific islands, either finding it impossible to surrender or too ashamed to return home in defeat.

THE STRAGGLERS is the remarkable story of these modern Robinson Crusoes. Fanatics, die-hards, misguided patriots — these hold-outs lived a tough but often dramatic existence. Hundreds were flushed out of hiding in the first few years after the war, but many remained undetected —still waiting for the next Japanese offensive. Since 1950 at least forty more have been found. And two were discovered on Guam as late as 1960.

They were modern men, but fear and an ancient code which would not admit surrender forced them to exist almost as savages. Some groups managed to keep their military character (they even kept their weapons in working order), but others turned to theft and pillage — and even cannibalism.

Many attempts were made to convince them the war was over, but these efforts constantly failed. Expeditors were sent out after them, but came back empty-handed.

THE STRAGGLERS is a unique story of men fighting to stay alive, using the most primitive means. Based on first-hand interviews and original research, it tells for the first time a fascinating but little-known epilogue to World War II.

A staff writer for The New Yorker since his graduation from Harvard in 1937, E. J. Kahn, Jr., has contributed reports to that magazine from such far-off spots as Australia, New Guinea, Panama, Germany, Russia, Japan, Korea and Alaska. He is the author of nine books and the father of three sons.

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