They Were Expendable

Front Cover
Naval Institute Press, 1998 - History - 209 pages

A national bestseller when it was originally published in 1942 and the subject of a 1945 John Ford film featuring John Wayne, this book offers a thrilling account of the role of the U.S. Navy's Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron Three during the disastrous Philippine campaign early in World War II. The author uses an unusual, but thorough, spellbinding format to tell the story: an interview with four heroic young participants. Ranked "with the great tales of war" by the Saturday Review of Literature, it is a deeply moving book that describes the four officers' extraordinary exploits from the first appearance of Japanese planes over Manila Bay to the squadron's calamitous end-including getting Gen. Douglas MacArthur safely to Australia.


Filled with action, drama, and history, this unique portrayal of "America's little Dunkirk" was described by the New York Times as being "almost unbearably painful at times, yet so engrossing that few who begin it will be able to put it down until they have finished its adventure-packed pages."

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User Review  - Whiskey3pa - LibraryThing

Great read. Written long before the outcome of the war was certain. Tells of great heroism and perserverance in the face of unremitting adversity. Read full review

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User Review  - seoulful - LibraryThing

Written during the early months of WWII while the outcome was still very much in the balance. Members of Motor Torpedo Boat Squadron 3 have just returned from a humiliating defeat in the Philippines ... Read full review

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