Michelle Kung
May 23, 2008 AT 04:00 AM EDT

One of many African-American soldiers in WWII, Pvt. Herman Perry was forced to toil in the Indo-Burmese jungle on the Ledo Road, an ultimately pointless rural highway into China. Unlike his compatriots, an emotionally fragile Perry shot a belligerent officer before twice escaping the clutches of the U.S. government — and became a folk hero in the process. Intricately researched and entertainingly told, Brendan I. Koerner’s gripping account of a little-known manhunt in Now the Hell Will Start details the brutality of jungle life while also illuminating larger issues of race and prejudice during the war. A-

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