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Railway Man: A POW's Searing Account of War, Brutality and Forgiveness Paperback – 1995
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From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1995 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top Customer Reviews
brutality and meekness, revenge and forgiveness. The author
was a signals officer in the Pacific Theater of the war and
was captured after the fall of Singapore. He was then sent to
the POW camps involved in the construction of the then Siam-
Burma railway (Remember the "Bridge Over the River Kwai"?).
There he had first-hand experience of the Japanese's brutal
treatment of POWs, himself included. He never forgot the face
of the Japanese interpreter accompanying the soldier who beat
him to a pulp. He narrates how he had to cope psychologically
with normal life after the war, how his wartime experiences
kept on haunting him. Coincidentally, he chances upon some
information regarding a Japanese trying to make reparations
for his wartime brutalities, and indeed confirms that this
was his former tormentor. After a lot of soul-searching, he
finally meets the Japanese in a war memorial beside the Kwai
River bridge, and the process of reconciliation and healing
begins. A very touching story of man's capacity to perhaps
not to forget, but yes, to forgive.
Amongst the tens of thousands of British soldiers rounded up and taken into captivity is Lt. Eric Lomax, a Royal Signals officer. Initially, the vast mass of British POWs hugely outnumbers their Japanese captors, leading to a relaxed atmosphere where the British prisoners mostly police themselves. Overconfident, many of the British prisoners began building home-made radios to keep a closer eye on the course of the war. However, as time passes the POWs begin to be dispersed, many being sent to be worked to death on the River Kwae railway as it slowly makes its way across Thailand and into Burma. In these smaller camps, much more aggressively policed by Japanese guards, the prisoners find their confidence and expectation of good treatment rapidly disabused. Lomax's involvement in the construction of clandestine radios leads him to being imprisoned, humiliated, tortured and condemned to a number of horrific prisons in and around Bangkok.
Eventually the war ends and Lomax returns home, but finds that his torture continues. His experiences lead to the breakdown of his first marriage, an estrangement from his father and decades of nightmares and broken sleep patterns.Read more ›
What Eric Lomax went through as a POW, and his eventual reconciliation with one of his torturers 50 years later displays a depth of humanity that is deeply moving.
It reminds us of a time so recent, yet which seems to long ago, and which can so easily be revisited upon us. It is not a document of Japan-bashing or of bitterness or recrimination. It reminds that we are all capable of reat evil, and all capable of surviving great evil. It reminds us of the contradictory yet parallel strains of goodness and darkness that make us human. I feel like a btter person for having read this book.
It's graphic, like when he drescribes the brutal treatment at the hands of the captors, the endless interrogations, being swarmed over by red ants when they were put in cages, and about the man who tortured him all those years.
Then he talks about going back to England, marrying, and then the jolt of his former torturer being alive. And that they met up again, and how he forgave.
I'm surprised it's out of print, and I still think it should be more widely read. The story may be gut-wrenching (in more ways than one), but when he survived it all, one can't help but wonder how, when so many have died along the way.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Laconic but well written. Lomax's description of his post-war state of mind should be required reading for professionals and family members who have to help or even simply to... Read morePublished 16 days ago by Mark F WILLIAMS
I'm thrilled I read this book. The characters were convincing and engaging. I truly felt I understood the pains, both psychologically and physically, these poor people went... Read morePublished 1 month ago by Wendy Gibbins
This is an credible story. Fantastic book, I couldn't put it down.Published 2 months ago by Amazon Customer
In short I was seeking a story of the experiences of a POW but found that the book covered too much on railroads. Read morePublished 3 months ago by SETX
Great book that deals with real life human emotions. It demonstrated how frail we are but at the same times reveals how resilient the human spirit can be. Read morePublished 3 months ago by John S.