Saturday, October 15, 2016

Eve of a Hundred Midnights by Bill Lascher

Hi Dear Folk,

Eve of a Hundred Midnights, by Bill Lascher.  A love story of two WWII correspondents written by Melville Jacoby's, cousin's grandson.  The biography is a window in time, set in the Pacific, just before America became involved in WWII and a short period of time after the bombing of Pearl Harbour.

I will not disclose why I think the book has this title because I think it would give away the ending and maybe I've already said too much.  Bill Lascher has combined their story from old family letters and the historical events of the time.

It's a fast moving snapshot of time in two young peoples lives, tied in with the fast moving events of history. Both Melville Jacoby and Annalee Jacoby (nee Whitmore) graduated from Stamford University, CA their paths crossed each other but not in any depth.  Mel was a ringer for different news papers and Annalee was a script writer at MGM.

They fell in love in Chungking, China, which at the time was being heavily bombed by Japan, they followed the story out to Manila and the Philippines, and were married there just a month before Pearl Habour and America entered the war.  They were staying at the Bay View Hotel in Manila with other journalist friends, diplomats and civil servants, all caught up in making snap decisions, to stay and surrender to the Japanese, or try and escape to Corregidor, an island shaped like a tadpole with it's bulbous head facing China, where MacArthur had retreated to.  Racing to the docks at midnight they barely escaped on a freighter to Corregidor.  All the time doing their jobs as journalists recording and reporting the events as best they could. There was a black and white American war  film made about Corregidor in 1943, and you can still see it on You Tube, directed by William Nigh.

It is a gripping, well-told very dramatic and romantic time in the life stories of two young journalists, and I would well recommend this book.  I also liked coming to grips with some of the history unfolding in Asia at that time, especially about Mel's time spent in Chungking prior to them both being there, a part of history I was not familiar with.  He made friends with many influential Chinese people, especially Madame Chiang, the wife of Chiang Kai-shek, who had wanted to throw a complete wedding for Mel and Annalee in Chungking.

As a side point, Barb, who I went to Hawaii with, her father was an American pilot in WWII and flew the supply route over and through the Himalayas to China, the odds of surviving that deployment were very low.  When I was single I would share a cup of tea with her mum and dad and he would tell me all sorts of stories about his exploits during the war.  Hardly clearing mountains and having to throw things out of the doors of the plane to lighten it up and just make it through, harrowing times.

It even touches slightly on European events of WWII which had repercussions in Asia, especially the Tripartite Pact.  Mel was in Hanoi, Vietnam when Japan started landing thousands of troops there, only five days earlier the French Vichy government had signed a pact with the Japanese, Germans and Italians.  While in Hanoi Mel had to work with French officials and Japanese officers to be able to even try and get something out of the country that was news worthy.  The Vichy government used forced retirement of all it's generals in Indochina, to comply with this pact.  A dark period in French history.  One time he was held and asked the following:

"Who is the sovereign power in this country, "Jacoby asked him, "you or the Japanese?"
"We are, of course."
"Well if you are the masters, how does it happen that we can be arrested on French territory by the Japanese?"
The officer smiled sadly and answered, "When a man has lice in his hair, who is the master?"

Did the young couple get to spend some time as newly weds on a honey moon?  Well read the story and see.


P.S.  Guess what I've decided to watch along with my Yellowstone mug and Malawi coffee?


  1. That sounds interesting. I will look out for it. Enjoy your coffee in your new mug.

  2. Thank you for this very thorough review of Eve of a Hundred Midnights. What an amazing experience they had, right? If you and/or any of your readers want to see some of the place Mel and Annalee went as shot by Mel, or even pictures of the two of them, check out my web site,

    -Bill Lascher

    1. Hi Bill, Thank you for leaving a comment on my book review. As you commented it truly was an amazing experience that they had as a young couple. I will take a look at your website and post a link to it and the pictures, which I know readers would like to see. I did not want to copy them from your book, because they were not mine to copy.

    2. You're welcome. Thanks for sharing the link and for your consideration in not copying the pictures. Speaking of which, great pictures of your park in the post after this. Happy anniversary!


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