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Posted: 4/22/2007 3:22:35 AM EST
By Ito Masashi. It's an autobiography by one of the Japanese soldiers on Guam who hid out in the jungle for sixteen years after the war. Fascinating description of how they learned to survive and maintain sanity.

Examples:

Teaching themselves to make fire by friction, by sawing a steel wire on wood until a bit of gunpowder would ignite.

Learning what was edible and what was not by trial and error.

Using garbage from an American dump. Scraps of cloth provided shelter, clothing, and thread. Sewing needles were fashioned from metal bedsprings. Food was stored in artillery shell casings. Water was carried in an old inner-tube.

Obsessing over women when they found a photo in an old magazine.

Missing bread and salt more than any other foods.

They killed pigs by hiding in trees and dropping rocks on them. They once managed to catch a buck by hand.

Also interesting is the psychology of survival. The Japanese stragglers lived in small groups that were constantly breaking up and reforming, and always growing inevitably smaller. There was a great deal of friction, yet they also determined that it was not possible to survive alone. They came up with some interesting rules concerning the sharing of food and the borrowing of implements. Religion is discussed - the author was an atheist, and his longest-term companion was a Buddhist.

The book is out of print, but I had no trouble getting a copy through inter-library loan.
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