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King Rat: The Fourth Novel of the Asian Saga Paperback – 24 Apr 2006

4.6 out of 5 stars 58 customer reviews

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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 (58 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 108,102 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

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
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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback
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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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
From the Second World War, there has been very little literature arising from the Japanese POW camps, compared to the enormous amount based on German camps.
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.
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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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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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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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By A Customer on 24 Jan. 2001
Format: Paperback
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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