Book Review: The Long March Home

10 May

The Long March Home, a WWII-era novel set in the Philippines, is a collaboration of two talented authors — Tosca Lee and Marcus Brotherton. They have created an astonishingly beautiful, yet hard story, with one voice uniting the sacrifice and survival of the courageous men who experienced the Bataan Death March. They don’t shy away from the brutality, and it is again hard. But I feel this is a must-read book: first to understand the time and place, and secondly to understand those who went before us. Very highly recommended!

Jimmy Propfield joined the army for two reasons: to get out of Mobile, Alabama, with his best friends Hank and Billy and to forget his high school sweetheart, Claire. 

Life in the Philippines seems like paradise–until the morning of December 8, 1941, when news comes from Manila: Imperial Japan has bombed Pearl Harbor. Within hours, the teenage friends are plunged into war as enemy warplanes attack Luzon, beginning a battle for control of the Pacific Theater that will culminate with a last stand on the Bataan Peninsula and end with the largest surrender of American troops in history. 

What follows will become known as one of the worst atrocities in modern warfare: the Bataan Death March. With no hope of rescue, the three friends vow to make it back home together. But the ordeal is only the beginning of their nearly four-year fight to survive. 

Inspired by true stories, The Long March Home is a gripping coming-of-age tale of friendship, sacrifice, and the power of unrelenting hope.

Tosca Lee is the award-winning, New York Times bestselling author of The Line Between, The ProgenyFirstborn, Iscariot, The Legend of Sheba, Demon: A Memoir, Havah: The Story of Eve, and the Books of Mortals series with New York Times bestseller Ted Dekker.

She is the recipient of two International Book Awards, Killer Nashville’s Silver Falchion, ECPA Book of the Year in Fiction, and the Nebraska Book Award. Her work has finaled for the High Plains Book Award, the Library of Virginia Reader’s Choice Award, two Christy Awards, and a second ECPA Book of the Year. The Line Between was a Goodreads Choice Awards semifinalist for Best Mystery/Thriller of 2019. In addition to the New York Times, her books have appeared on the IndieBound bestseller list, and Library Journal’s “Best Of” lists..

Tosca received her B.A. from Smith College and lives in Nebraska with her husband, three of four children still at home, and her 160-lb. German Shepherd, Timber.

Marcus Brotherton
 is a New York Times bestselling author and coauthor dedicated to writing books that inspire heroics, promote empathy, and encourage noble living. His commendations include the Christopher Award for literature “that affirms the highest values of the human spirit.”

Born in British Columbia, Marcus earned a bachelor’s degree from Multnomah University in Portland, Oregon, and a master’s degree from Biola University in Los Angeles, where he graduated with high honors.

He lives with his wife and their three children in the Pacific Northwest.

My Impressions:

I first have to say that The Long March Home is a must-read novel. It is so many things — a coming-of-age story, a tribute to those who sacrificed for their nation and world. a riveting account of an historical event — but it really goes much deeper than that. It explores the triumph of the human spirit, the love one has for a brother born not of blood, but of shared experiences, and search for purpose in the midst of hell. The book has two narratives, both in the voice of Jimmy Propfield. We get his growing up recollections in a past tense POV, and the present tense experiences of three childhood friends who are not quite men forced to endure extreme hardship and brutality. The structure of the novel is important and really works to get the whole of who the characters were and became. The chapters featuring their childhood also help relieve some of the intensity of the war scenes. Jimmy, Hank, and Billy grow up in Mobile, Alabama during the Depression. They impulsively enlist in the Army for varying reasons prior to America’s entrance into WWII. They land in paradise — boot camp in the Philippines. That is, until December 7, 1941. I was woefully ignorant of just what happened when the Japanese were successful in bombing Pearl Harbor. It was not the only serious Allied defeat that month. The Long March Home is an excellent historical account including fictional and historical figures. It reveals the horrors of war, the atrocities perpetrated by the Japanese, and the astonishing bravery of American soldiers and the people of the Philippines. The war is ever present in the book — it spans days leading up to the attack through the end of the war. Jimmy, Hank, and Billy are larger-than-life characters that are realistically drawn. Their struggles, doubts, fears are relatable to the modern reader. Their story gives insight into the character of those real men who lived through the nightmare of Japanese POW camps. As you can imagine, the will to live ebbs and flows. But strength was shared between the three men ensuring some bit of survival. Lives are changed irreparably, but not always for the worse. There is healing and hope.

The Long March Home was an emotional read for me. It drew me in immediately and never really let me go. I’m still thinking about it days after finishing. I believe it will stay with me forever. It gets a very rare Very Highly Recommended rating. I also strongly recommend you read this with your book club or reading buddy. I will be pressuring my husband to read it in the coming days. 😉

Very Highly Recommended.

Great for Book Clubs.

Audience: Adults (please note this book does not shy away from the brutality of war)

(Thanks to Bethany House for a complimentary copy. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

3 Responses to “Book Review: The Long March Home”

  1. Tosca Lee May 10, 2023 at 9:50 am #

    Thank you so very much, Beckie—for reading, for this review, and for sharing with others. We very much appreciate it!

  2. Carla May 10, 2023 at 6:13 pm #

    This sounds like a book that I will definitely read, but am taking a break right now from War stories. I will definitely get it on my shelf though. Wonderful review, Beckie.

    • rbclibrary May 10, 2023 at 8:31 pm #


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