For fans of The Boy Who Followed His Father into Auschwitz and Unbroken comes an incredible true war story of an underage soldier who experiences his first love and loss on the battlefields of Bataan and Corregidor, by New York Times bestseller Marcus Brotherton.  

Joe Johnson Jr. ran away from home at the age of 12, hopping a freight train at the height of the Great Depression. He managed to talk his way into the U.S. Army two years later. Seeking freedom and adventure, he was sent to the Philippines.  

Adrift in spirit, Joe visited a teenage prostitute, and they became unlikely, smitten allies. Yet when the Japanese attacked on December 8, 1941, their hopes of being together had to wait.  

Joe and his fellow soldiers fought for four brutal months in Bataan and Corregidor, until they were forced to surrender. The boy endured years of horror as a prisoner of war, only dreaming about seeing again the girl he’d come to love. 

This lyrically written and deeply encouraging saga will remind you that every life can be lifted, forgiveness is the patron of restoration, and redemption is available to all. 

What's Inside

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Reader Reviews


A Bright and Blinding Sun is a gripping book, storytelling at its best, with an enduring message. Not only has Marcus Brotherton brilliantly chronicled the life of one boy, but in doing so he has told the story of countless others. With impeccable research, he beautifully educates us to a time and place in history that needs to be remembered and acknowledged for the bravery and resilience of so many, under brutal circumstances. Unreservedly recommended.”
 —Heather Morris, #1 internationally bestselling author of The Tattooist of Auschwitz
“What Joe Johnson went through as a young man is heart-wrenching and fierce, yet his story needs to be told and remembered as an example of what deeply humane people encountered and overcame during World War II.”—Gary Sinise, Actor, Founder Gary Sinise Foundation
“Marcus Brotherton has crafted a strong and respected canon of narrative nonfiction books. In particular, he writes beautifully and hauntingly about the paradoxes of war. Humanity and horror mix and mingle in the fray, but in the end good triumphs over evil. Joe Johnson’s story is truly a testament that every one of us can overcome the obstacles that we are dealt, and even thrive when the odds are against us.”—Sara Vladic, New York Times bestselling author of Indianapolis
“Private Joe Johnson displayed an indomitable spirit throughout his remarkable life. He endured what seemed impossible and came out the other side victorious. Marcus Brotherton always writes a powerful book, and A Bright and Blinding Sun does not disappoint.”—Green Beret SFC Ryan Hendrickson, Silver Star recipient. Nationally bestselling author of Tip of the Spear
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