CM Archive
CM Archive Book Review line

Johnson, Bryan.

Toronto, McClelland and Stewart (A Douglas Gibson Book), 1987. 285pp, cloth, $24.95, ISBN 0-7710-4448-8. CIP.

Reviewed by John Harkness

Volume 15 Number 4
1987 July

During four days in late February 1986 Cory Aquino, widow of murdered opposition leader “Ninoy” Aquino, ousted American-backed Ferdinand Marcos from the presidency of the Philippines. Meanwhile, Toronto Globe & Mail correspondent Bryan Johnson persuaded his editor to return him to Asia. He had been the Globe's Peking correspondent from 1979-1981 and had fallen in love with the Philippines. He arrived in Manila two months before the February 7 presidential election, witnessed the dramatic events that produced the four days of courage that gave him the title for this book, and stayed on. In three months of intensive interviews after the rebel victory he collected the further information that gave him his book's subtitle, The Untold Story of the Fall of Marcos.

What Johnson discovered was that far from being a spontaneous protest against the obviously rigged presidential election the rebellion was a very deliberate and thoughtful take-over. This rebellion had been planned and supporters were gathered over a long period of time. Defence Minister Enrile and Deputy Chief of Staff General Ramos were right in the thick of it. Johnson gives a step-by-step account of the mass revolt of Saturday, February 22, when Enrile and Ramos announced their break from President Marcos, to Tuesday the twenty-fifth when Marcos and his family fled to Hawaii.

We get a thrilling and gripping exposé of what really happened during events such as the engulfing of Marcos' marine brigades by a sea of civilians on Sunday, the "nuns versus guns" episode, the amazing failure of Marine Colonel Balbas to wipe out the rebel H.Q. The false announcement of Marcos fleeing on Monday, the double inaugurations of Aquino and Marcos one hour apart, and finally at 9 p.m. Tuesday, Marcos' rescue from the lawn of Malacanang Palace by U.S. helicopters. Johnson interviewed ninety key players on both sides to get at this real story. He unearths some astonishing revelations that contradict many of the stories, including some of his own, that were reported during the actual events. This is a most extraordinary chronicle indeed that strives to set the historical record straight and seems to succeed.

Johnson includes a useful chronological time line at the end and a map of Manila with 8 pages of photographs, enjoyable current affairs read.

John Harkness, Emery C.I., North York, Ont.
line indexes


1971-1979 | 1980-1985 | 1986-1990 | 1991-1995


The materials in this archive are copyright © The Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission Copyright information for reviewers

Young Canada Works