St. Paul, Minn. – Macalester’s DeWitt Wallace Library, in cooperation with the Theatre and Dance Department, will celebrate Professor Emeritus Sears Eldredge’s book, Captive Audiences/Captive Performers, Music and Theatre as Strategies for Survival on the Thailand-Burma Railway 1942-1945, at 4:45 p.m., Fri., May 9, in the library’s Harmon Room. 

On April 17, 2014, the DeWitt Wallace Library published Eldredge’s book Captive Audiences/Captive Performers, the first open access, multimedia e-book published by the library.  Author Jacob L. Wright, in a recent Chronicle of Higher Education article titled, “What Enhanced E-Books Can Do For Scholarly Authors,” stated, “For scholars in the humanities, the ‘enhanced’ e-book format is a game changer.”

This publication is a “game changer” for a number of reasons.  The scope and content of the work are enhanced with the multimedia collection of audio files from interviews Eldredge conducted with former POWs as well as performances of music written in the camps.  The images galleries of playbills along with sketches of the costumes and theater settings provide more context for the reader.  Video clips allow readers to investigate artifacts more closely.

Eldredge’s groundbreaking investigation, which took him over 10 years of research to complete, is about the musical and theatrical performances in Japanese prisoner of war camps in Southeast Asia during World War II, and the critical role they played in the survival of the 61,000 Allied POWs.

“It was important for me to tell this amazing and true story because it’s one that many do not know,” said Eldredge.  “It is a story about how music and theatre and the other arts are absolutely essential to a society’s life. And for the POWs, these performances were instrumental in their survival.”

Macalester College, founded in 1874, is a national liberal arts college with a full-time enrollment of 2,011 students. Macalester is nationally recognized for its long-standing commitment to academic excellence, internationalism, multiculturalism, and civic engagement. Learn more at

May 6 2014

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