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The Forgotten Highlander: An Incredible WWII Story of Survival in the Pacific Hardcover – October 1, 2010


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The Forgotten Highlander: An Incredible WWII Story of Survival in the Pacific + The Railway Man: A POW's Searing Account of War, Brutality and Forgiveness
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Skyhorse Publishing; First Edition edition (October 1, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 161608152X
  • ISBN-13: 978-1616081522
  • Product Dimensions: 1.5 x 6.1 x 9.1 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (37 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #752,891 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

“A book you must read.”

“A story of almost unimaginable suffering.” (BBC Radio 4)

“Riveting, powerful, moving.” (The Observer)

“A remarkable memoir.” (Financial Times)

“In his memoir, Urquhart employs matter-of-fact prose that is somehow perfectly appropriate to describe the horrors he experienced. Although grateful and positive about the many benefits in his long life—he describes himself as a lucky man—he is angry at the Japanese government's lack of acknowledgment of Japan's wartime abuses, and he feels neglected by his own government. His story makes clear that he has every right to feel that way.” (Library Journal)

“Memorable, vivid, relentless.” (The Herald [UK])

“Urquhart. imprisoned in the Kanyu camps, forced to build the Death Railway, herded on the 'hell ship' Kachidoki Maru, and forced to work in mines around Nagasaki, is in a survival league of his own.” (The Times [London])

About the Author

Alistair Urquhart was born in 1919 and is the last surviving member of the Scottish regiment the Gordon Highlanders who were captured in Singapore. He teaches computer skills in Scotland. He is currently battling skin cancer—a probable result of his years of forced labor in the tropical sun. He lives in Dundee, Scotland.

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
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Alistair Urquhart is an angry man.... and he should be.
Quixote010
I highly recommend this account of a survivor of WW2 Japanese captivity and the slave work camps of the Burma Siam railway.
Baraniecki Mark Stuart
This is a very interesting story told through the eyes of a former POW.
Jeffrey T. Munson

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Jeffrey T. Munson on December 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Author Alistair Urquhart was a member of the Scottish Gordon Highlanders. His group was sent to Singapore in 1939 and by December, 1941, the Japanese had seized control. Singapore, Britain's main outpost in the Far East, fell to an invading force only 1/3 the size of the defenders. Urquhart and thousands of others became prisoners of the Japanese. This began a 3 1/2 year odyssey for Urquhart which saw him endure sadistic treatment at the hands of the Japanese.

Urquhart was conscripted to work on the famous Bridge on the River Kwai, all the while surviving on a cup of rice and water per day. Beatings became the norm, and soon, Urquhart was suffering from several different tropical diseases. He worked on the bridge for 750 days.

After his work on the bridge, Urquhart was put on one of the Japanese "Hell Ships" to be sent to a labor camp in Japan. En route, the ship was sunk by an American submarine, throwing Urquhart and his comrades into the water. Some of the prisoners were rescued by friendly submarines, but Urquhart was not as lucky; he was picked up by a Japanese ship and resumed his voyage to Japan. Once there, he began working outdoors in a mine near the town of Nagasaki. By August, 1945, the Japanese were beaten. The first atomic bomb had fallen on Hiroshima and one day while Urquhart was working outside, he was knocked over by an extremely hot blast of air. Looking north toward Nagasaki, Urquhart saw a towering cloud over the city. He did not know it at the time, but he had felt the effects of the second atomic bomb that destroyed the city. Urquhart had somehow managed to survive the war, weighing only 82 pounds at the end. He managed to work his way back to Scotland and began to get back to life.
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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Quixote010 VINE VOICE on October 8, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Alistair Urquhart is an angry man.... and he should be.

The Forgotten Highlander is the non-fictional account of 20 year old Alistair Urquhart's fascinating and unbeliveable situtation in the Pacific during World War II. Now 91, Urguhart seeks to document his imprisonment at the hands of the Japanese as he survived more than two years doing slave labor. For Urquhart, this story was written partially as a catharsis, and partially to remind the world of the Japanese atrocities they have never fully admitted.

Readers will find this book to read more like fiction rather than real life as Urguhart relates details regarding prison conditions, punishment, food rationing and general interaction from one prisoner to another. Actually having worked on the Death Railway (the "bridge on the river Kiwi"), he relates in horrowing detail the constant day-to-day never-ending manual labor that drove men to cut their own throats, or simply lay their head on a track and wait a passing train. As if being a prisoner wasn't enough, he relates more unimaginable specifics about being aboard a ship bound for Japan, only to have it sunk by an American ship whereby he survived six days floating in the Pacific...only to be recaptured by another Japanese ship and ending up near Nagasaki--- the second city destroyed by they atom bomb.....which he also witnessed. His short, but powerful remarks about returning home should be read by everyone thinking they are living a life of "entitlement".

Some readers may believe this book is a fabrication. Prehaps some of it is, alas the writer is more than 65 years reomoved from the events he details and memories can be better or worse than we recall. At the same time, if just half of what he recalls is accurate, then this book is still chilling and fascinating.

I strongly recommend this book as an easy to read, fascinating recallection of World War II.... possibly one of the last we will be seeing from that generation.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By Allard Stamm on June 17, 2010
Format: Kindle Edition
This book will leave you speechless. There is nothing even close in this genre today. I cannot thank the author enough for finding the courage to write this book ...So many vets are dying - taking their amasing stories with them....
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Shopster on May 15, 2010
Format: Audio CD Verified Purchase
The explanation of the product was enough to confirm my interest in ordering it.The Forgotten Highlander: My Incredible Story of Survival During the War in the Far East.
A very moving account of the personal hardships lived by Alastair Urquhart as a POW . Many messages of courage, faith and steadfastness.
Highly recommended reading or listening to the abridged version on three CDs.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Seb on June 25, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
One of the first books I bought on my Kindle and I re-read it immediately. This is a truly shocking (yet inspiring) account of an unimaginable feat of endurance. To think the Urquhart was only 20 at the time reminded me of the line from King Lear: "The oldest hath borne most: we that are young/Shall never see so much, nor live so long." The generation that went through this is humbling.I could not go through a fraction of what he suffered. Probably the most shocking part was that they were asked to sign documents after their return promising not to discuss their experiences, in case it affected trade with the Japanese.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia on October 4, 2010
Format: Hardcover
Somehow the Second World War is often thought of as a kinder War than Vietnam or Iraq or Afghanistan. Urquhart's memoir graphically details the horrors of ANY war. As a 20 year old he's drafted into the British army and spends almost his entire war in the hands of cruel Japanese and Korean soldiers as he's forced to build a railroad in the Malaysian jungle along with other UK and Australian soldiers. His keepers completely ignored the Geneva Convention and its tenets. It would have been easy for Urquhart to slip into self pity while telling his story but he doesn't, he doesn't need to, the facts are horrible enough. Almost worse was how he was treated when he returned home. The British government asked for documentation of the atrocities he endured. Of course none existed so he was denied the extra pay that would have provided. Instead Urquhart did what so many veterans did and still do and made the most of the life he had ahead of him.
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