By February 1945, Manila, the `pearl of the Orient', had been under Japanese occupation for over three years. The million or so inhabitants of this lively, cosmopolitan city had, for the most part, made the necessary adjustments. Despite major shortages, the pattern of daily life had reasserted itself, both in the gracious bayside mansions lining Dewey Boulevard and in the thriving slums of the Tonday peninsula. Yet the air was charged with expectation: US General Douglas MacArthur, who on leaving the Philippines in March 1942 had famously promised "I shall return", was about to fulfil that promise. And return he did. Between February and March 1945, MacArthur's forces liberated, the city. But that liberation entailed wholesale destruction. By the first week of March, the `pearl of the Orient' was no more: only a handful of blackened, smoking ruins interrupted the now startlingly clear view from one edge of the city to the other. Casualties had been heavy: 5,000 Americans, 20,000 Japanese - almost all of them dead - and more than 100,000 of Manila's own citizens. The destruction of Manila was on a par with the destruction of Warsaw.
Yet outside the Philippines, the tragedy of Manila, the "unwanted battle", remains virtually unknown - a serious source of discomfort to both Americans and Japanese. Using newly discovered archival material and personal interviews with surviving eyewitnesses, the authors of this book have pieced together a detailed account of what really happened to Manila.show more