A Pledge of Silence

Written by Flora J. Solomon
Review by Beth Turza

Excited to be stationed in the lush, beautiful Philippine Islands, Margie Bauer and the other American army nurses work hard in surgery by day and enjoy dances and picnics during their free time, until the Japanese declare war on the United States, and the bombings begin in Hawaii and the Philippines in December 1941. Doctors, civilians and nurses are rounded up and detained at the University in Santo Tomas, where at first they are treated well, with activities and interaction with local markets, but in time the conditions deteriorate and the inmates suffer from illness, starvation and abuse. Three years later they are finally liberated, but the U.S. government forbids them to discuss the terror and starvation they suffered at the hands of their captors. Margie’s pledge of silence affects her life as a civilian after the war.

The author takes us into the theater of war in the steaming tropics, where we can feel the tension and fear that the doctors and nurses experience while saving lives, as the Japanese attacks destroy the land and the people. The historical content of the novel is well done, and I felt the emotional trials the characters experienced during and after the war. It was refreshing to see a WWII historical novel follow the story beyond the war and discuss how, in time, Margie was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder. The story has a satisfactory conclusion, with events from the war coming to light when Margie is an elderly woman and ready to talk about it. I highly recommend this excellent book to those who enjoy novels about history and personal lives during WWII.