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The Narrow Road to the Deep North
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The Narrow Road to the Deep North [Unabridged] [Audible Audio Edition]

by Richard Flanagan (Author, Narrator)
4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (190 customer reviews)

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Editorial Reviews

A novel of the cruelty of war, and tenuousness of life and the impossibility of love.

August, 1943. In the despair of a Japanese POW camp on the Thai-Burma death railway, Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans is haunted by his love affair with his uncle's young wife two years earlier.

Struggling to save the men under his command from starvation, from cholera, from beatings, he receives a letter that will change his life forever. This savagely beautiful novel is a story about the many forms of love and death, of war and truth, as one man comes of age, prospers, only to discover all that he has lost.

©2013 Copyright © Richard Flanagan 2013. The moral right of the author has been asserted.; (P)2013 Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd

Product Details

  • Audible Audio Edition
  • Listening Length: 15 hours and 4 minutes
  • Program Type: Audiobook
  • Version: Unabridged
  • Publisher: Bolinda Publishing Pty Ltd
  • Release Date: November 1, 2013
  • Language: English
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (190 customer reviews)
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
24 of 25 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
The very best books don't just entertain, uplift or educate us. They enfold us in their world and make us step outside of ourselves and become transformed. And sometimes, if we're really lucky, they ennoble and affirm us.

The Narrow Road to the Deep North is such a book. Once I got past the first 60 or 70 pages, there was no turning back. I turned the last page marveling at Mr. Flanagan's skill and agreeing with historian Barbara Tuchman that, "Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science crippled, thought and speculation at a standstill."

The Narrow Road is based on an actual event: the building of the Thai-Burma death railway in 1943 by POWs commanded to the Japanese. The title comes from famed haiku poet Matsuo Basho's most famous work and sets up a truism of the human condition: even those who can admire the concise and exquisite portrayal of life can become the agents of death.

The key character, Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans, a larger-than-life POW, is also a study in contradictions: as "Big Fella", he protects those under his command from starvation, heinous deceases and senseless dehumanizing while struggling with his own demons. The passages are haunting and heartbreaking: the skeletal bodies covered in their own excretement, the bulging ulcers, the breaking of mind and spirit.

Yet Mr. Flanagan does not depict these scenes to shock the reader. Rather, he reveals how all is ephemeral, mythologized, or forgotten: "Nothing endures. Don't you see? That's what Kipling meant. Not empires, not memories. We remember nothing. Maybe for a year or two. Maybe most of a life, if we live. Maybe. But then we will die, and who will ever understand any of this?
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23 of 26 people found the following review helpful
Format:Kindle Edition
This novel shares its title with a poetic travelogue by the 17th century haiku poet Matsuo Basho which was published in 1694. In many respects, the journey undertaken by Matsuo Basho is very different from that undertaken by Dorrigo Evans in this novel. Matsuo Basho is largely focussed on the beauty of the world around him, whereas Dorrigo Evans’s odyssey is of evolving self, and place.

‘A happy man has no past, while an unhappy man has nothing else.’

Dorrigo Evans is the central character in Richard Flanagan’s novel. His story moves in place and time, between different aspects of his lives in a way that made me think about the kind of man Dorrigo Evans was, and about how complex humans can be. The core of the story, and of Evans’s heroism, is about his experiences as a doctor in a prisoner of war camp on the infamous Thai-Burma railway during World War II. Evans loves literature, and especially Tennyson’s ‘Ulysses’ which he reads and rereads. Evans’s memories are triggered by writing a foreword for a collection of sketches done by one of the men (Guy ‘Rabbit’ Hendricks) who did not survive the camp. We read Dorrigo Evans’s memories of the camp together with his childhood in Tasmania, his life in Melbourne, and his posting to Adelaide where he has an affair with his Uncle Keith’s much younger wife, Amy. Although Evans becomes engaged to the conventional Ella before being posted overseas, it is his affair with Amy that sustains him through his camp experiences. We are not spared from graphic descriptions of the physical consequences of life in the camps: malnutrition, minimal hygiene and physical brutality are all covered. But in all the squalor and hardship, pain and suffering, there are men who try to support each other.
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24 of 29 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Disconnected Misery July 13, 2014
Format:Hardcover|Vine Customer Review of Free Product (What's this?)
THE NARROW ROAD TO THE DEEP NORTH by Richard Flanagan is blurbed as a "mesmerizing" and "luminous" sprawling epic. The story of an Australian World War II hero, Dorrigo Evans, who has survived POW status, the novel covers the horrors of building the Burma Road and Railroad. Flanagan offers numerous points of view throughout.

Unfortunately, the story meanders from the boudoir of a prostitute to the marriage bed and off to the cot of the Japanese officer. The guards in charge of the prisoners tire of beating them, finding the job enervating and fruitless. How does one coax more work out of dying, starving men?

Without a central story propelling the pages forward, I found the book lifeless and frustrating. Though Flanagan is certainly a gifted writer in his nuances and observations, the sheer lugubriousness of the prose does not make for a summer read. THE BRIDGE OVER THE RIVER KWAI, KING RAT, and A TOWN LIKE ALICE offer a clearer look at the desperate quest for supremacy called the War in the Pacific of World War II.
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10 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harrowing and beautiful December 28, 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
That any POW's survived the building of the Thai Burma Railway, is a testament to something that goes beyond courage or endurance. And that those men could go forward after the war was over also staggers me. Flanagan gives us an inkling of how that might have been for many of the survivors. This is a gruelling but poignant account in fictional form and the fact that we not only see this from the perspective of Australian POW's but also their captors (some of whom were close to captives as well), makes it more compelling. I loved the use of haiku and Tennyson throughout the novel. This may be the first time I've ever put a novel ahead of anything Tim Winton has done to win the Miles Franklin Award, but this time I have to, although it's a close call.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars "It was death that had given his life meaning"
If there is a bleaker book than this in existence, I truly hope that I never encounter it. Because in the hands of a lesser writer than Richard Flanagan, the result would probably... Read more
Published 13 hours ago by S. McGee
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Published 14 hours ago by Ravi Aron
3.0 out of 5 stars Too graphic
Well written but too graphic for my taste. Too many instances of violence and cruelty. I got the idea after just a few.
Published 15 hours ago by Kindle Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars As advertised the storyline was difficult to follow at times ...
As advertised the storyline was difficult to follow at times but the thrust of the authors purpose to expose the savagery of the Japanese captors toward the Australian prisoners... Read more
Published 22 hours ago by Paul Mahoney
4.0 out of 5 stars A moving book - loved it!
A moving book - loved it!
Published 1 day ago by Michael P. Smith
2.0 out of 5 stars you'll be disappointed.
I'm surprised at rave reviews I read before trying this book. The narrative arc of the protagonist was disjointed, even when considered separately from the stories of the POW... Read more
Published 1 day ago by Michael Seckington
5.0 out of 5 stars I swear fear and hate is still there
I found this read worthy of five stars if not more! It was a brutal account of what happens when two counties are at war. Read more
Published 2 days ago by Mrs Sonia James
5.0 out of 5 stars beautifully written, an incredible portrayal of the immense suffering...
An outstanding novel, beautifully written, an incredible portrayal of the immense suffering & deep
friendships experienced by those soldiers on the Thailand Burma railway. Read more
Published 3 days ago by Kerry
5.0 out of 5 stars The Bridge on the River Kwai
Richard Flanagan's father was in the Death March in Siam building the Bridge on the River Kwai. As his father approached his 90s, he began interviewing him about it and doing... Read more
Published 3 days ago by Lynn Ellingwood
5.0 out of 5 stars Read every word
A mightily powerful story of war, love and human survival in every possible circumstance. Richard Flanagan is a great writer.
Published 3 days ago by Gustave
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