This article is a group portrait consisting of brief vignettes of three Americans who became prisoners of war and worked as slave laborers for Japanese corporations during World War II. It discusses the men's capture, their food deprivations, the effects of their malnutrition, their ways of coping with imprisonment, and their lives and attitudes toward food after liberation. The author visited with each of the men, all octogenarians living in San Diego County, California, at the time. One, in a wheelchair, was working as a national service director for American Ex-Prisoners of War; another was a retired businessman; the third, who remained in the military after the war, retired as a chief warrant officer, and had since spent a lot of his time in pursuit of physical fitness. Each of the men wrote about his experiences as a POW in both published and unpublished accounts, and this essay also quotes from those sources.
““A Beriberi Heart””: Lessons from Slave Soldiers of World War II
jeanne schinto is the author of Huddle Fever: Living in the Immigrant City (Alfred A. Knopf, 1995), a memoir of the ten years she spent in the old textile-mill city of Lawrence, Massachusetts. She has also published a story collection and a novel. Since 2003 Schinto has been a reporter for Maine Antique Digest, covering auctions, antique shows, and trends in the trade. She lives in Andover, Massachusetts.
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jeanne schinto; ““A Beriberi Heart””: Lessons from Slave Soldiers of World War II. Gastronomica 1 November 2009; 9 (4): 53–57. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2009.9.4.53
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