The Long March Home

Authored by Marcus Brotherton and Tosca Lee.  Thank you to Revell Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group for my copy of this book. 

The Long March home is the story of Jimmy Propfield and his two best friends, Hank and Billy. For Jimmy, who was wanting to get out of Mobile, Alabama and forget his high school sweetheart, signing up alongside his two best friends, was the way to do this. That was until December 8, 1941. News reached the boys in Manila that the Japanese had bombed Pearl Harbour.

The friends are plunged straight into war, perhaps with a little bravado and naivety driving them forward. What starts as a battle for control of the Pacific Theatre of war culminates on the Bataan Peninsula and the largest surrender of American troops in history. Jimmy, Hank and Billy vow to make it home together, but with the Bataan Death March and a four-year fight to survive ahead of them, it’s just the beginning.

The Long March Home is a page-turner. It’s gripping from start to finish. The dual timeline plot works well as we see how our three men are coping versus what’s happening at home back in Mobile with the female character that ties them together. The book is beautifully written, and the characters leap off the page. Often in war novels, the character can be flat, displaced by the grandeur of the war but this book doesn’t do that. These characters are ones that you care about from the turn of the first page. The humanity of not only our three main characters, but others around them leap out through the words as you read them.

I’ve read reviews that state this was a tough read, but I didn’t find that. I found this a comfortable read and that is testament to the authors. It’s impossible to make a novel about war that will be an ‘acceptable’ read for everyone. That’s not how war is. War is gritty, dirty, raw and horrific. Truth should be reflected and this book does just that.

The book shows how soldiers come home, some unable to leave that life behind. It shows how experiences of being prisoners of war shape the men they become. Jimmy’s quote in the book says “I ain’t the son that left that July”, This simple quote sums up the effects of war on the soldier. You leave as a son and return as a son, but one with horrific memories that will never leave you and that you may never be able to talk about.

This book, through the words on the page and its vivid description of the events of the war, is a stunning demonstration of not only human spirit but also home, family, friendship and forgiveness. It is something special. The fact that it has been inspired by true stories gives honour to those soldiers and ensures that the atrocities of the war are never forgotten.