Eddie Fung has the distinction of being the only Chinese American soldier to be captured by the Japanese during World War II. He was then put to work on the Burma-Siam railroad, made famous by the film The Bridge on the River Kwai. In this moving and unforgettable memoir, Eddie recalls how he, a second-generation Chinese American born and raised in San Francisco's Chinatown, reinvented himself as a Texas cowboy before going overseas with the U.S. Army. On the way to the Philippines, his battalion was captured by the Japanese in Java and sent to Burma to undertake the impossible task of building a railroad through 262 miles of tropical jungle. Working under brutal slave labor conditions, the men completed the railroad in fourteen months, at the cost of 12,500 POW and 70,000 Asian lives. Eddie lived to tell how his background helped him endure forty-two months of humiliation and cruelty and how his experiences as the sole Chinese American member of the most decorated Texan unit of any war shaped his later life.
Judy Yung is professor emerita of American studies at the University of California Santa Cruz. She is co-author of Island: Poetry and History of Chinese Immigrants on Angel Island, 1910-1940 and the author of Unbound Feet: A Social History of Chinese Women in San Francisco.