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The Guy Behind 21AAR Has A Book Coming Out

May 3, 2019

Manila’s Legislative Building collapsed from intense bombardment during the last stages of the battle for Manila in early March, 1945.

It was a tense February evening in 1945 when the Flying Columns belonging to the 1st Cavalry Division raced toward the University of Santo Tomas, which was among Manila’s oldest surviving schools. Just days prior, the commander of the Southwest Pacific Area (SWPA) General Douglas MacArthur warned of an impending massacre in the historic campus held by the Imperial Japanese Army. But rather than fighting their way in, the Flying Columns stormed the entrance and discovered the Japanese had barricaded themselves with 300 hostages. After tense negotiations, the GIs watched as their enemies marched out of the premises before the Red Cross arrived.

But the jubilation of the starving American civilians in Santo Tomas was short-lived for in the following weeks a brutal fight over the Philippine capital ensued, pitting the XIV Corps against desperate Japanese holdouts led by the mysterious Rear Admiral Sanji Iwabuchi. From February 3 until March 3, the city of Manila was wracked by artillery and gunfire as the dreaded Rikusentai–Japan’s naval infantry–fought block by block and street by street.

In the end, Manila was a charred and shell-pocked ruin with the survivors left to deal with a shocking death toll whose full extent is unknown until today. What become the Battle of Manila killed 1,010 American GIs, 17,000 Japanese soldiers, and at least 100,000 Filipino civilians.

Jacket design by Jon Wilkinson. “Battle of Manila” is out now from Pen & Sword Books. For product info go here.

The events leading up to and the aftermath of this World War 2 cataclysm are recounted in Battle of Manila: Nadir of Japanese Barbarism, 3 February – 3 March 1945 from the UK’s Pen & Sword Books. The title is now available in the Pen & Sword online store and other booksellers such as Amazon and  WH Smith. The latest entry in the History of Terror series features 128 pages and more than 70 images and maps from the period. When doing research for the book, the author Miguel Miranda pored over US military archives dealing with World War 2 in the Pacific and read firsthand accounts penned by survivors and veterans.

Battle of Manila is divided into 11 chapters that follow the titular battle’s sequence. The Introduction and the opening chapter MacArthur’s Bitter Defeat establishes the causes for World War 2 in Asia and Japan’s sudden invasion of the Philippines, whose final surrender in early 1942 doomed thousands of Americans to endure harsh imprisonment. The SWPA’s crusade to liberate the country three years later takes the brunt of the second chapter Leyte to Lingayen while the Japanese navy’s ominous preparations for an assault on Manila is the subject of the chapter titled Desperadoes.

The fourth chapter The Angels is about the history and exploits of the storied 11th Airborne who were tasked with carving a path from Southern Luzon to reach the dreaded “Genko Line”–a wall of fortifications built to withstand an offensive from Manila’s southern approaches. In the fifth chapter Encirclement the struggle of the XIV Corps when trying to break the Japanese defenses are revisited while The Genko Line returns to the 11th Airborne as it fights outgunned and outmanned against the Japanese for control of Nichols Field.

The chapters Bloody Hell and Intramuros guide the reader through the brunt of the fighting in Manila. As the US 37th Infantry Division was unable to cross the Pasig River–the steel and concrete bridges were blown–and reach Manila’s administrative buildings, larger ordnance was brought in against the defending Japanese. By mid-February, the surrounded Rikusentai resorted to butchering civilians and these gruesome atrocities are described in the chapter Bloody Hell. When American GIs finally seized the colonial fortress Intramuros with flamethrowers and tanks, they beheld a wasteland overflowing with death and despair.

In the final chapter A Country In Ruin the effects of World War 2 on the Philippines is examined. With full independence on July 4, 1946, just a year after the terrible events in 1945, the new government in Manila led by President Manuel Roxas had nothing to rebuild their new republic with. The book closes with epilogue titled Facing A Strategic Conundrum that sets forth a powerful thesis explaining why the Philippines risks becoming embroiled in another global conflict between the great navies of the Asia-Pacific.

Battle of Manila is the first non-fiction historical book by Miguel Miranda. After launching 21st Century Asian Arms Race (21AAR) in June 2011 as a personal effort for tracking military capabilities across Eurasia–the geopolitical space that spans the eastern half of the Asia-Pacific all the way to the Mediterranean coast–the site’s traffic grew to a point where it attracted a global audience. Today, 21AAR’s current readership is spread across English proficient regions, with North America, India, the UK, Singapore, and the Philippines ranking as the top five sources of traffic. This exposure led to opportunities where he was commissioned for longform and book length stories on historical events with a military slant.

To support the release of his latest work, specialized promotional stories will be published on a regular basis here in 21AAR. This forms part of a deliberate marketing strategy whose goal is helping readers purchase the title. It must be clarified 21AAR’s overall content won’t be replaced by promotional stories, whose substance either delves into Battle of Manila‘s chapters and its figures or gives readers additional context on how World War 2 was fought in the Philippines.

Written with accessible style and rich with details, Battle of Manila is the first new book by a Filipino writer on this controversial episode in more than 20 years. Readers who enjoy learning about Asian World War 2 history are encouraged to review Battle of Manila.


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