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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