The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991 Page: 492

Southwestern Hzstorical Quarterly

Eye-Deep in Hell: A Memoir of the Lzberaton of the Philippines, 1944-45. By
William A. Owens. (Dallas: Southern Methodist University Press,
1989. Pp. xiii+245. Photographs, maps, index. $24.95.)
William A. Owens, noted Texan author of more than a dozen works
of fiction, folklore, and autobiography, adds to the latter category de-
scription of his role as an officer in the Counter Intelligence Corps of
the United States Army during the American reconquest of the Philip-
pines in 1944-1945. His final sentence sums up much of his experi-
ence: "I had arrived in the Philippines in darkness; I was leaving the
Philippines in darkness" (p. 235). The young English professor's ideal-
ism by 1945 had been tempered by experience and by the complexities
of the Philippine political situation.
Owens's initial task was to prevent Japanese infiltration of American
lines. Using such passwords as "lullaby lane," which fortunately never
came back as "rurraby rane," Japanese infiltration was kept at a mini-
mum. Japanese atrocities and the Japanese decision to fight for Manila,
thereby insuring its destruction, etched a strong and unforgetable
memory of Japan in Owens's mind. But if his view of Japan was under-
standably black and white, the performance of his second and third
tasks moved into many shades of gray. In attempting to determine
which Filipinos had collaborated with the Japanese and how they should
be punished, Owens met Filipinos of all types and classes-from Emilio
Aguinaldo to village priests and mayors. The difficulty of proof, the
power of the landed classes in protecting their own, and meddling by
Douglas MacArthur ("I hated his guts." [p. 86]) made the second task
of justice impossible. It was Owens's third task, that of attempting to
deal with the Hukbalahap dissident group, that led him to much soul
searching. His discussions with Luis Taruc led him to believe that the
Huks could be effectively used against the Japanese. This in turn led to
suspicions of his motivations by those Filipinos in power who were an-
tagonistic to Huk political and social goals. The pursuit of truth, if in-
deed that was what the Counter Intelligence Corp wanted to hear, be-
came clouded.
The author has written an excellent book. It is one of the rare sources
on the work of the Counter Intelligence Corps. It shows great insight
into an enormously complex Philippine political situation and even
greater insight into the education of a young Texan. Written with great
skill, a story well told, it deserves a wide audience.


University of Tulsa


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Texas State Historical Association. The Southwestern Historical Quarterly, Volume 94, July 1990 - April, 1991, periodical, 1991; Austin, Texas. ( accessed July 29, 2017), University of North Texas Libraries, The Portal to Texas History,; crediting Texas State Historical Association.