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Anatahan: Lost Survivors of "The Island of the Living Dead"
  • by Wilbur Cross and George W. Feise, Jr.
Anatahan is one of the more important and most unusual books to come out of Japanese history in English translation. The story is a fact-bearing, non-fiction version that highlights the trials and tribulations of life on a deserted island, while a major war rages throughout the surrounding area.
The scene is set on a tiny, volcanic island, five miles long and two miles wide, centered in the Marianas approximately 63 miles north of Saipan. Having mountainous peaks rising over 2,000 feet; a shoreline measuring approximately 15 miles; and thick, lush green jungle too dense to penetrate without a proper blade; Anatahan offers a varied complexion suitable to challenge the most adventurous spirit.
The island was populated with a few natives and two Japanese couples assigned by the Japanese Development Company to oversee the island's coconut plantation and copra crop.
World War II invades the tranquil nature of Anatahan when four small Japanese ships are bombed off its coast and 32 survivors make it to Anatahan's shore—at which time the only Japanese living on the island is the wife of one couple and the husband of the other.
Yoko Hibi is an attractive girl of 21 years and her presence presents numerous problems among the survivors, however, the attention she receives is overwhelming to her and she frequently succumbs to the advances of the men. You might say she becomes very promiscuous in her attempts to satisfy their lust.
Yoko Hibi is an important part of the Anatahan story, but there is much more to consider and this story brings out the animalistic nature of some of those stranded, as well as the thoughtful and caring times when these people needed one another in order to survive. The book describes the distrust when outsiders attempted to convince those on Anatahan that the war really was over, and it details the creative natures of many who recreated life's necessities.
As you read this unimaginable version of an unbelievable tale of the fate of the Anatahan few, place yourself in a similar situation and the Anatahan story will become even more real. The characters are true, the island does exist, and our facts were carefully checked for accuracy.
Review by Dr. Jeffrey Ashley: Just wanted you to know that I received my copy of your book on Anatahan today. I will read it quickly! As you can imagine, when I was a castaway there in the mid-80s, it was the most monumental experience of my life. I was 24 years old then and thought my life had come to nothing. I even dedicated my doctoral dissertation to Anatahan... that in spite of what I went through there to survive, I made it because of and in spite of that island that so profoundly affected me!
The Authors
  • Wilbur Cross is the author or co-author of more than 50 books on a wide range of subjects, including history, biography, adventure, military affairs, entrepreneurship, retirement, education, self-help, travel, public service, reference, science, writing, geography, and health. He received his degree from Yale University, served three and a half years in the Pacific during World War II as an Army captain, started his writing career as a copywriter in a New York advertising agency, and was an editor at Life for eight years, during which period he also contributed to Time/Life books. His book Choices with Clout: How to Make Things Happen by Making the Right Decisions became a best-seller and has gone into publication in eight foreign countries. Another well-received book is Zeppelins of World War I, which has just been published in a new edition. His recent work, Disaster at the Pole, the saga of the crash of the airship Italia in the Arctic in 1928, has received very favorable reviews, is published in four foreign editions, and is being considered for a film documentary. He is the author of a major work, The Encyclopedia of American Submarines, some 300,000 words, and covering the entire history of Navy submarines since the first one in 1900, written in conjunction with two former submarine captains and the Navy's top flag officer in this field. Cross is currently developing several other submarine books, based on the exhaustive amount of material he compiled over a three-year period for the Encyclopedia. He is also researching and writing the history of Penn Carter, with which he has been associated for eight years—the authentic story of the 140-year-old sea island institution for African Americans which has been declared a National Historic Landmark. His co-author is the Center's former director, Emory Campbell, one of America's leading African American spokesmen.
  • George Feise initially joined forces with Wilbur Cross four years ago when they began collaboration on one of their current books, The Encyclopedia of American Submarines, published by Facts on File in January 2003. His initial assignment was to be the computer expert and cataloguer of thousands of facts being sifted for inclusion in this comprehensive volume depicting the entire history of these undersea craft over the past 200 years. He then assumed many of the more than 300 writing and editing requirements and is currently handling this range of functions in the preparation of another submarine book on the implausible S-boats (some of which, though built at the end of World War I, came out of mothballs to win victories in the Pacific), to be published by Naval Institute Press in 2004. He is also collaborating on a self-improvement book on "Decision-Making" to complement Cross's successful guidebook, Choices with Clout, which was a best-seller in the United States and was published in six foreign languages abroad. Together they are also writing "an outlandish tale," The Most Powerful Being on Earth, for which Feise is preparing illustrations which he refers to as "experimental" and "visual kindling," and not necessarily to be forced on any prospective publishers. Earlier in his career, Feise owned and operated a small publishing company, which produced, among other publications, a small magazine dealing with the history and culture of the State of New Jersey, newsletters, small guide books, and public relations literature for a range of clients. As he honed his skills on the computer, he also was called upon to prepare catalogues and indexes and, more creatively, lively promotional and advertising art for posters and books.

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