Mactan by Edward J. McNeill

book-mactanEdward Frobisher is running out of time.  In Manila, just days before Japanese pilots are scheduled for an air raid of the Philippines, Frobisher is asked – by General Douglas MacArthur no less – to lead a rescue mission for wounded American soldiers.  Just like that, Frobisher is handed countless human lives and asked to shepherd them to safety.  The plan is to collect the wounded and spirit them away to Australia, but that’s much easier said than done.  If he is to successfully carry out his mission, Frobisher will have to overcome almost insurmountable odds.  Otherwise, everyone is doomed.  Meanwhile, fifty years later, Matthew Wintercorn has just arrived in Manila from Texas, where he is starting work with the American Red Cross.  Wintercorn’s own grandfather was a soldier during WWII, so it is no surprise when an old black-and-white photograph hanging on the wall at ARC headquarters captures his interest.  It depicts a heavily battered boat with the name “Mactan,” which echoes unexplainably in Matthew’s memory.  His search for answers will lead him on a rediscovery of the past, digging up old secrets and uncovering forgotten truths.

Mactan is an enjoyable jaunt through history that boasts compelling characters, an intriguing premise, and settings so rich they seem to spill off the page.  Lighthearted but serious, Frobisher and Wintercorn are two young men given tough jobs, and though their paths never cross in real life, there are strange and entertaining parallels between them.  McNeill has a commendable working knowledge of WWII history that has been put to great use here in a quick-fire tale that is sure to impress even the most stalwart historian.

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