Behind the Lines

In this seventh part of the series, Griffin manages to turn some obscure history into a full blown plot. More specifically, Behind the Lines deals with the guerilla resistance in the Philippines after MacArthur withdrew, and the Japanese occupied the island nation.

With Douglas "El Supremo" MacArthur withdrawn from the Philippines to Australia, most of the remaining US forces surrendered when Corregidor, their island fortress fell. However, there were some that didn't go along with this plan. Wendell Fertig was a lieutenant colonel in the Army reserve, in the engineering corps; on paper an unlikely person to organize and lead a resistance movement. However, he ends up doing just that.

In order to increase his stature among the Filipinos, Fertig self promotes himself to General. Various troops come to join his rag tag group which attack Japanese convoys to procure supplies. With a radio, they attempt to establish contact with their military forces across the ocean.

With Fertig's group back in touch, it becomes a political football as to if and how the US military should assist him. Apparently MacArthur had felt previously that guerilla operations could not be mounted, and didn't want to be proven wrong by an engineering corps light colonel, from the reserves no less.

They decide that with the Army turning a cold shoulder that the Marines can take on the challenge. Also, the newly formed OSS (which eventually evolved into our CIA), also is trying to get involved like "a camel sticking its nose into a tent." In other words, they're not welcome, and even worse, their point man is Macklin, the lying, conniving and cowardly officer that everyone loves to hate from earlier novels in the series. Leading the Marines is Ken "Killer" McCoy, who was introduced in the first novel, but we haven't seen nearly enough of lately. Just to keep things interesting, Macklin outranks McCoy, but will be shot if he impedes the mission!

Also contributing to the depth of the novel, is the way that that Griffin handles the radio codes. By taking us through the various substitution ciphers, we gain a much better appreciation of creating and breaking a code. I’ve often wondered how they work, and now I have an appreciation of the intricacies of creating and breaking such transmissions.

I enjoyed Behind the Line very much. As is typical of Griffin, this work is historically accurate, and overflows with realism. I recommend Behind the Lines to any World War II buff.

Overall Grade: A

For our review of the eighth novel, In Danger's Path, see here.

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