General Vicente Lim and the Philippine Military Experience, 1910–1944
Campaigns and Commanders Series
Published by: University of Oklahoma Press
Imprint: University of Oklahoma Press
368 Pages | 6 x 9 | 9 b&w illus., 5 maps
Vicente Podico Lim (1888–1944) was once his country’s best-known soldier. The first Filipino to graduate from West Point and a graduate of the U.S. Army War College, Lim figured in every significant military development in the Philippines during his thirty years in uniform. Frustrated Ambition is the first in-depth biography of this forgotten figure, whose career paralleled the early-twentieth-century history of the Philippine military.
As independence seemed increasingly likely for the Philippines in the 1930s, Lim positioned himself to take a leading role in developing armed forces for a sovereign nation. But as Lim maneuvered behind the scenes, Manuel L. Quezon, soon to be the commonwealth president, revealed that he had invited General Douglas MacArthur to serve as military adviser to the Philippines. Frustrated Ambition corrects the conventional historical narrative of events thereafter—one that emphasizes the failure of the nascent Philippine military under MacArthur and inflates the general’s heroic role in the defense of Bataan and Corregidor. Richard Bruce Meixsel restores Lim as the then-recognized leader of the opposition to MacArthur’s mission, and shows how Lim took the Philippine Army in a more tenable direction as MacArthur’s military system foundered.
World War II brought Lim to the fore. While MacArthur directed his troops from Corregidor, Lim commanded a division on Bataan that may have suffered more combat losses at the battle of Abucay than did all American units on Bataan during the entire campaign. When the U.S. high command turned its efforts to evacuating the Philippine Islands, Lim began to prepare for the ensuing underground struggle against the Japanese—a fight that cost him his life.
By recounting Vicente Lim’s career, Frustrated Ambition illuminates forgotten episodes in Philippine history, offers new perspectives on military affairs during the American occupation, and recovers the story of Filipino soldiers whose service changed the course of their country’s military history.