- 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 (58 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 108,102 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
King Rat: The Fourth Novel of the Asian Saga Paperback – 24 Apr 2006
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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)
The completely uncut edition of James Clavell's classic KING RAT, in fresh new packaging for a new generation of readersSee all Product Description
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Top Customer Reviews
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.Read more ›
Yet the ordeals suffered by Japanese prisoners were horrific in the extreme, and surely merit more extensive exploration.
This book at least attempts to address that balance.
The story is based in Changi jail, in Singapore. Although obscenely brutal and murderous, it was actually not among the most sadistically genocidal of the Japanese camps.
Clavell - himself a camp veteran - provides a vivid portrayal of the desperate existence endured by the prisoners as the Japanese steadily worked them to death.
Different men respond in different ways to extreme hardship, and `every man for himself ' was a seemingly a commonly chosen option.
One criticism of the book has been that there isn't much portrayal of the dignity, esprit de corps, and self sacrifice which characterised a great deal of the POWs' behaviour.
Instead, Clavell explores the dark side - the pathetic nature of the prisoners' bitter desperation reducing them to pit their wits against each other. `Rat' prevails as the King of this grimmest of Castles.
There's a twist in the tail, however, and relationships readjust dramatically towards the end of the story.
The book has a powerful authenticity, and brings together a fascinating cluster of characters. It's a must-read, if only for the insight it gives into a crucial piece of 20th century history.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
Great book. Great insight into the human character and behaviour. when under stress. All this author's books are worth reading and re-reading.Published 1 month ago by Barbara B
Working my way through. Always an engrossing read. Not for the faint hearted. Hard to put down. Well worth the effortPublished 1 month ago by Regina Bambrick
This is the first novel by Clavell that I have read. When I picked it up I didn’t realise that it was part of a group of six books he published called the ‘Asian Saga’. Read morePublished 1 month ago by Bridgey
One of my favourite books ever. This is my 2nd copy which I bought for my dadPublished 3 months ago by Kay
A fictional account however very engaging with some insights only possible with this form and from someone who experienced Changi.Published 4 months ago by jmenzies
Gives a facinating insight into being a PoW, especially if a member of your family was there. Not too detailed or descriptive, the story moves briskly. Read morePublished 4 months ago by Possumbly
Though King Rat is nominally part of Clavell’s Asian Saga, it is actually unrelated to the rest of the series and only comes fourth within it because of its chronological position. Read morePublished 4 months ago by reader 451
This book is amazing on so many levels.
-Its a brilliant and engaging story
-It makes you grateful for everything you have
-You learn what it was really like to be... Read more