In the Shadows of the Sun
Ross and Baylis Strickland, brothers, built every piece of their ranch in New Mexico on land leased from the federal government. Their wives, Sara and Alida, and their children also contribute to the family projects of farming and managing a cattle herd. News reports suggest the horror of war, so far only imagined in the faraway Philippines until its impact hits this American family. Ross’s son, Jack, enlists in the army. Their lease is suspended because the War Department needs land for testing bombs. Losing both their livelihood and home agitates their already decaying family relationships. Havoc continues as Alida divorces Baylis, who dares a relationship with his sister-in-law, Sara. Then an inaccurate report of Jack’s death arrives.
The horrific description of Jack’s struggles through the Bataan Death March fills the novel’s opening pages. It continues with the vivid years following September 1942, when Jack, as a prisoner of war on Palawan Island, builds an airfield for the Japanese. In returning home, Jack is confronted with rejoining family members who face the challenge of recreating their lives, as their beloved ranch has been extensively damaged.
The action-filled narrative switches back and forth between the war and troubled family lives at home. This is an exemplary war story containing elements in American history too often quietly ignored. The author presents with sensitivity and emotion the personal damage that war brings to both soldiers and civilians.