Now the Hell Will Start

Now the Hell Will Start

One Soldier's Flight From the Greatest Manhunt of World War II

Book - 2008
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Baker & Taylor
Traces the story of World War II soldier and folk hero Herman Perry, an African-American G.I. assigned to a segregated labor battalion who sparked the war's most notorious manhunt, in an account that traces the circumstances leading to his flight from duty, his subsequent life with Indo-Burmese headhunters, and the author's dangerous investigation into his story. 30,000 first printing.

Book News
Koerner (a contributing editor at Wired) reconstructs the story of Herman Perry, an African American soldier during World War II. Having experienced the Jim Crow brutality of being assigned to construction of the Ledo Road through Burma to China for the use of the forces of Chiang Kai-shek and plagued by a deteriorating mental state, Perry shot and killed a white officer before fleeing into the jungle in front of a massive manhunt. He settled among the Naga people until his capture and eventual execution, becoming something of a folk hero to other Black GIs who suffered similar conditions in the US military. Annotation ©2008 Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (

Blackwell North Amer
A true story of murder, love, and headhunters, Now the Hell Will Start tells the remarkable tale of Herman Perry, a budding Romeo from the streets of Washington, D.C., who wound up going native in the Indo-Burmese jungle - not because he yearned for adventure, but rather to escape the greatest manhunt conducted by the United States Army during World War II.
An African American GI assigned to a segregated labor battalion, Perry was shipped to South Asia in 1943, enduring unspeakable hardships while sailing around the globe. He was one of thousands of black soldiers dispatched to build the Ledo Road, a highway meant to appease China's conniving dictator Chiang Kai-shek, Stretching from the thickly forested mountains of North-East India across the tiger-infested vales of Burma, the road was a lethal nightmare, beset by monsoons, malaria, and insects that chewed men's flesh to pulp. Perry could not endure the jungle's brutality, nor the racist treatment meted out by his white officers. He found solace in opium and marijuana, which further warped his fraying psyche. Finally, on March 5, 1944, he broke down - an emotional collapse that ended with his shooting an unarmed white lieutenant.
So began Perry's flight through the Indo-Burmese wilderness, one of the planet's most hostile realms. While the military police combed the brothels of Calcutta, Perry trekked through the jungle, eventually stumbling upon a village festooned with polished human skulls. It was here, amid a tribe of elaborately tattooed headhunters, that Herman Perry would find bliss - and would marry the chief's fourteen-year-old daughter.
Starting off with nothing more than a ten-word snippet culled from an obscure bibliography, Brendan I. Koerner spent nearly five years chasing Perry's ghost - a pursuit that eventually led him to the remotest corners of India and Burma, where drug runners and ethnic militias now hold sway. Along the way, Koerner uncovered the forgotten story of the Ledo Road's black GIs, for whom Jim Crow was as virulent an enemy as the Japanese. Many of these troops revered the elusive Perry, whom they dubbed the Jungle King, as a folk hero.

& Taylor

Traces the story of World War II soldier Herman Perry, an African-American G.I. assigned to a segregated labor battalion who sparked the war's most notorious manhunt when he fled into the Indo-Burmese jungle after shooting an unarmed white officer.

Publisher: New York : Penguin Press, 2008
ISBN: 9781594201738
Characteristics: 386 p. : ill., map


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