A World War II Story of Survival, Love, and Redemption

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Amidst the epic clashes of armies and navies that make war such a fascinating subject, lie the smaller human interest stories that prove just as compelling. One such story is that of World War II soldier Joe Johnson Jr., which is told by Marcus Brotherton in a newly published book called A Bright and Blinding Sun: A World War II Story of Survival, Love, and Redemption. Today on the show, Marcus shares how Joe sought to escape the pressures of a broken family and the Great Depression by joining the US Army at age fourteen. We discuss how Joe ended up in the Philippines, fell in love with a teenage prostitute named Perpetua there, and helped smuggle her out of her brothel. We then get into how Joe was captured by the Japanese, and the harrowing experience he had to endure as a prisoner of war, including being locked in a box smaller than a coffin. We end our conversation with a discussion of Joe’s life after the war, and Marcus shares what happened to Perpetua, how Joe dealt with all the trauma he had experienced when he was really still just a kid, and what lessons Marcus has taken away from Joe’s life.

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