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King Rat [Paperback]

James Clavell
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 6.93 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

1 July 1999
Set in Changi, the most notorious prisoner of war camp in Asia, King Rat is an heroic story of survival told by a master story-teller who lived through those years as a young soldier. Only one man in fifteen had the strength, the luck, and the cleverness simply to survive Changi. And then there was King.

Frequently Bought Together

King Rat + Gai-jin: A Novel of Japan (Asian saga) + Tai-Pan (Asian saga)
Price For All Three: 20.91

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Product details

  • Paperback: 416 pages
  • Publisher: Hodder Paperbacks; New Ed edition (1 July 1999)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0340750685
  • ISBN-13: 978-0340750681
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 13 x 19.7 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (40 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 160,416 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


A splendidly exciting and original story (Sunday Telegraph)

Terrifyingly exciting suspense (Ian Fleming)

KING RAT is the best novel in English to have come out of Japanese prisoner of war camps . . . James Clavell is a teller of stories. They are complicated and exciting, and you are desperate to know what will happen to his characters because they are like the people you know from your own life and experience, set in strange and sometimes terrible circumstances (John Simpson)

Book Description

The completely uncut edition of James Clavell's classic KING RAT, in fresh new packaging for a new generation of readers

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Customer Reviews

4.6 out of 5 stars
4.6 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
We should be really grateful for the strike that prevented Clavell to work as a screenplay writer and director for a few weeks in the early sixties and led them to write his first novel. In this edition there is a nice prologue by his daughter explaining what prompted him to write this book, and how quickly he wrote it. The novel is a fictionalized retelling of Clavell's experiences in a Japanese prisoner of war camp in Singapore.

Clavell does an amazing job in describing the personalities of the different characters that take part in the story. The fact that the camp held American, English and Australian prisoners provided him with the opportunity to showcase his acute understanding of the different cultures. If you add on top of that the Japanese and the locals that were in charge of managing the camp, you will find a wealth of characters that make this a mesmerizing read. There are two characters though, that are at the center of this tale, and whose actions could serve as a study in sociology. One is an American, the King, who is a corporal that has the ability to facilitate commerce, which is prohibited by camp rules, and therefore makes a very nice living, especially when compared with everyone else. When the King meets Peter Marlowe, a British Lieutenant, the contrast of personalities and moral codes could not be clearer. Thus starts an unusual friendship that will test Marlowe's character and convictions, since he will have to decide between compromising his morals in return for better living conditions for him and his friends, and sticking to his guns and keep on living miserably.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing read. Recomended to anyone 22 Dec 2000
A story about a Japanese POW camp (Changi) during the second world war, this book is the tale of the prisoners within the jail. Most notably, corporal "King" an American, who is the only one within the camp to have made good from his circumstances. King is the most hated and also the most popular man within the camp. However, he makes his only real friend in Peter Marlowe, an English RAF flight Leiutenant. James Clavell writes possibly the most detailed and realistic story about life as a POW in Japan, and gives the reader the closest look at the terrors which were faced that anyone will ever get.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic 24 Jan 2001
By A Customer
Set in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in WWII, King Rat is a brilliant and gripping story that follows the lives and deaths of the men trapped behind the wire, held by brutal guards and slowly starving. Friendships and hatreds bloom, and we come to really care about the fate of the characters. King Rat shows the way that people survive extreme hardships: some by pulling together and helping each other, some by acting purely out of selfishness. Plus, how people try to impose their own order and maintain their own power in a place where they are helpless. A very incisive look at the human condition that is relevant everywhere: you'll recognise your work colleagues amongst the inmates.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable. 21 Aug 2013
By Ghost
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I read this many years ago and liked Clavells style of writing and his characters. It is a little dated now, with the passage of time and the slamming it took from ww2 changi prisoners, but a great novel of the time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars James Clavell 20 May 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
James Clavell - A brilliant author (very disapointingly now deceased - so no more books from this source) and an absolutely brilliant book
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read 28 Mar 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I liked this book. It was a good read. For me it didn't compare well with the other classics like Shogun but the story kept me reading until the end.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly ratted!! 22 Oct 2010
Format:Mass Market Paperback
I kind of enjoyed Shogun but didn't really enjoy any of the rest of Clavell's novels and nearly didn't bother with this one. However, as soon as I began reading I could not put it down. It is a truly fascinating and thrilling account of life in Changi prisoner of war camp. Everything was very carefully and accurately observed and everything has a strong ring of truth to it. There are really fascinating character studies and a lot of interesting detail combined with a very good narrative. Excellent fodder for the amateur historian. For me, this was such a contrast to the tedious, one-dimensional, misogynistic melodrama of his later works. They say that most writers only have one good book in them -- well -- in my opinion King Rat is Clavell's and I would highly recommend you read it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading 21 Mar 2014
By Billy L
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Classic James Clavel novel, good story line. Bettered only by Tia Pan in my opinion. Definitely worth taking time to read.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting
This is probably James Clavell's finest achievement and made all the more interesting considering his own experiences in Changi. Read more
Published 1 month ago by Jamie
5.0 out of 5 stars Classic
James Clavell is one of my favourite authors and King Rat one of his finest offerings. Although in my mind not as good as the legendary Shogun or Tai Pan the novel is still a five... Read more
Published 4 months ago by Amazon Customer
4.0 out of 5 stars Great WWII prison saga
A classic from Clavell painting a vivid picture of the squalor & terrible conditions in changing prison during the war. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Mr Adam Griffiths
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic book that will keep you engrossed
A brilliant story that is partially autobiographical, this is the debut novel of James Clavell and in my opinion his second best (after Shogun). Read more
Published 7 months ago by Shoto
5.0 out of 5 stars classic war story
Based on his experiences as a Prisoner of War in Singapore. This is an excellent novel. Thought provoking. Held my interest throughout. Will now read some of his other books.
Published 8 months ago by petermcgeeney
4.0 out of 5 stars good read
its nice to have a re-readable book available when I want it. this book like all of Clavell's books is re-readable.
Published 8 months ago by Bernard
5.0 out of 5 stars very good read
This book is another great work by James Clavell anyone who enjoys reading should really invest in all the Clavell books about Hong Kong and Japan
Published 9 months ago by mazza
5.0 out of 5 stars King Rat
This is a great historical novel. Entertaining at the same time as deeply reflective and educational. All the books by Clavell are well worth reading.
Published 11 months ago by Mr. Andrew Bruce
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read
A good book giving the reader an insight into life in a prisoner of war camp. How would you behave and would you survive?
Published 12 months ago by gg shoes
5.0 out of 5 stars King Rat by James Clavell
Brilliant - James Clavell at his best. The horrors that come out of war - and the parts that people play
Published 12 months ago by Peter Western Gate
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