Overview

Resolve is the story of an unlikely hero, Lt. Clay Conner Jr. He eludes World War II’s Bataan Death March and galvanizes groups of disparate people—among them a tribe of arrow-shooting pygmy Negritos—to survive the relentless pursuit of the enemy and to keep a promise. Ultimately, Conner emerges from a Philippines jungle after 34 months to present an amazed lieutenant general with a tattered American flag on a bamboo pole, symbolic of an unlikely victory won.

On April 9, 1942, as thousands of U.S. soldiers surrendered to Japanese soldiers in a chaotic prelude to what would become the Bataan Death March, a few dozen Americans placed their faith in their own hands and headed for the jungle. Among them: Conner, a twenty-three-year-old Army Air Corps communications officers and former Duke cheerleader who had never even camped before.

The obstacles were as steep as the Zambales Mountains that Conner had to traverse daily to survive: among them, malaria, heat, jungle rot, snakes, and mosquitoes. Beyond that, the threat of people, not only enemy soldiers who, put a price on Conner’s head and went so far as setting fields of cogan grass on fire to flush him out, but groups that purported to be his friends and who later betrayed him. And, finally, his own self doubts, fueled by the despair of having to bury dead buddies, friction among his fellow American soldiers, and years passing with little hope of rescue.

But if conflict reveals character, Conner persevered, inspired by an unlikely alliance with a tribe of pygmy Negritos, by the words in a dog-eared Bible, and by a tattered American flag that Conner vowed to someday triumphantly fly at battalion headquarters. The result is a true story so inspiring that, after Conner was featured on television’s “This Is Your Life” in 1956, the episode triggered more mail than any such program had ever prompted.

As with Bob Welch’s earlier war books American Nightingale (about the first nurse to die after the landings at Normandy and featured on ABC’s “Good Morning America”) and Easy Company Soldier (about Band of Brothers hero Don Malarkey), the award-winning journalist offers a story that plumbs the depths of courage, conscience, and the internal conflicts that make us human. He weaves in letters from a mother back home who will not give up on her missing-in-action son, sprinkling the narrative with a deep sense of poignancy. The result is a story that’s heart-wrenching at times, heart-warming at times, but always daring to travel the grittier trails of war.

Resolve is more than a book about war, but about groups of people whose strength in a common purpose negates whatever differences might threaten to divide them. And, amid a horrific war, about an unlikely hero who forged peace among them—and within himself.