The Leper Spy

Title:                      The Leper Spy

Author:                 Ben Montgomery

Montgomery, Ben (2017). The Leper Spy: The Story of an Unlikely Hero of World War II. Chicago: Chicago Review Press

LCCN:    2016002542

D802.P5 M66 2017


  • “In 1944, as World War II raged in the Pacific, a young, vivacious Filipino woman with leprosy named Josefina Guerrero was swept up in the underground guerrilla movement in Manila. The convent-educated girl who loved reading poetry and listening to Chopin and Beethoven became one of the most reliable and courageous spies for the United States in the Pacific Theater, putting her life at risk for no reward but to help the Americans oust the Japanese occupiers from her homeland. She stalked through the woods, mapping machine-gun turrets around Manila Bay and delivering the maps to the United States so Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s troops knew where to drop bombs. She penetrated Japanese munitions holdings and alerted underground leaders. She secreted food and medicine to U.S. prisoners of war being tortured and starved in internment camps”– Provided by publisher.


  • Everything is in readiness — Fools — Family — Safeguards — Bombs — Envelope — Boys — Hobnailed boots — Bastards — Volunteer — Leaflets — Gone — Espionage — Speedo — Spies — Promise — Beleaguered — Taken — Pledge — I’m a leper — Vengeance — Landings — Advance — Map — Los Banos — Dispatched — Leper camp — Loose ends — Visits — In sickness — Independence — Spotlight — Discovery — Return to the rock — All that is changed — Medals — Friends of friends — Carville — Old fears — Crusader — Fallen — Controversy — Fences — Graduation — Praise — Bureaucracy — Sisters — Deportation — California — Sunset — Disappear — I am still alive — Anonymous.


Further comments in The Intelligencer[1]

When Joey Guerrero Leaumax, a volunteer usher at the Kennedy Center for Performing Arts, died, her brief obituary mentioned only her birth in Manila and late-life accomplishments. What it omits is her diagnosis of leprosy, her WWII heroism in the Philippines, her championing of the rights of lepers, and her receiving the Medal of Freedom. The story of this unlikely spy begins when, as a young wife and mother, Josefina Guerrero is diagnosed with leprosy. Forced to give up her husband and young daughter and live in isolation, Guerrero decided to work for the resistance when Manila was attacked by Japan. Her leprosy, ironically, protected her from scrutiny by the enemy, and she was able to observe troops, draw maps, and smuggle information to the Americans and food to prisoners of war. After the surrender, Guerrero was exiled to a leper colony where she protested the unsanitary conditions and scant medicine and later traveled to the U.S. for treatment. Montgomery…offers a fascinating tribute to the slight Filipina who courageously saved thousands and chose anonymity.—Booklist

[1] The Intelligencer (22, 2, Fall 2016, pp. 140-141 ).



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