The Long March Home

Written by Marcus Brotherton Tosca Lee
Review by Thomas j. Howley

Jimmy “Prop” Propfield, Hank Wright, and Billy Crockett are three teenage friends growing up around Mobile, Alabama at the end of the 1930s. They are all as close as brothers, connected through school and faith. Both Jimmy and Hank also have a hankering for Billy’s older sister, Claire. The three of them share all the teenaged hijinks of Southern high school boys growing up in that time period—almost all of it charmingly innocent.

The Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor brings a sudden end to all their near-term plans. They are soon in the U.S. Army and stationed in the Philippines, which Jimmy initially considers a paradise on earth. He loves the people, the cities, and the countryside. That too ends when they are captured by the invading Japanese and forced to take part in the notorious Bataan Death March where the motto of the three becomes “all home alive.”

Narrated in the first person from Jimmy’s perspective, this is an unforgettable coming-of-age novel inspired by true and almost unbearably harrowing events in one of the darkest episodes of World War II. The contrast between the well-crafted fun and joy of their final high school years and the abominable horrors of what they will later experience is glaringly impactful for the reader. It is no wonder both authors have written other bestsellers. They capture the charm and delight of school dances and fast cars equally as well as tactical infantry combat in the jungle and the inhuman torture the boys undergo as prisoners. The many supporting characters are also interesting, especially the female guerrilla group leader, Felipa Culala. This is an important and masterful book of quality historical fiction and comes with my highest recommendation.