Non-Book Review: Cushing’s Coup

Cushing’s Coup: The True Story OF How Lt. Col James Cushing And His Filipino Guerrillas Captured Japan’s Plan Z And Changed The Course Of The Pacific War, by Dirk Jan Barreveld

So, I received this book this evening from the Naval Historical Institute to review, and it falls under the line of a sort of book I appreciate reading, and that is books about neglected over overlooked aspects in fields that are otherwise covered very heavily. IN this particular case, this book is about a little-known but important area of World War II that is not given sufficient credit or viewed in the right perspective [1]. In this case, we have an obvious war hero who was given some recognition but not nearly the level of recognition he deserved for both his intelligence coups as well as his efforts in counteracting the Japanese occupation of Cebu in the Philippines. Ironically enough, it appears as if Cushing’s only moment of glory in life was in World War II, given the fact that he appears to have been an unsuccessful and fairly impoverished mining engineer both before and after the war, but someone who was at his best in combat, and not very good with money.

What makes this book so remarkable, at least from what I have seen in flipping through it so far, is the way that it places the activities of Cushing and his fellow insurgents/guerrillas in a larger context. There is the aspect of cooperation between local Americans on the ground and the local Filipino population. There is the context of what (if any) aid and assistance that could be provided to those units by the Allied troops, and then there is the counter-insurgency efforts by the Japanese. Given that the United States is, and has for some time, greatly struggled in counterinsurgency efforts in various countries around the world, it is highly ironic that this book should deal so sympathetically with insurgents in a particular context, namely the Japanese occupation of Southeast Asia during World War II. It is often the case, though, that the view of insurgents does not depend on the morality or immorality of insurgency or counterinsurgency, both of which are brutal business, but rather the morality of the cause of the occupier and the side seeking to avoid occupation. This is an area we must be careful to deal with honestly, for our sympathies may blind us to the ugliness of guerrilla warfare no matter what side one is dealing with. Whatever honor and restraint there is to be found in combat is not going to be found in that kind of warfare, only victory by any means possible.

There are some areas of this book I am definitely curious about. I am curious to see about its overall portrayal of the insurgency in the Phillipines during World War II, in its portrayal of Lt. Col Cushing in particular, in the way that the claims that the titular coup of uncovering Japan’s plans for 1944 shortened the war by a couple of months were calculated and how they can be evaluated. I am also looking for a good read on World War II in the Pacific Front, an area where I tend to have read far more of as a result of my reviewing so many books that have dealt with the subject. I expect this to be a book that adds to my general understanding of the subject of the Pacific Front of World War II, and that offers a compelling and dramatic read about areas of military intelligence and the importance of face, all areas of personal interest. We shall see if those expectations are met.

[1] See also, for example:

About nathanalbright

I'm a person with diverse interests who loves to read. If you want to know something about me, just ask.
This entry was posted in American History, Book Reviews, History, Military History and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

5 Responses to Non-Book Review: Cushing’s Coup

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