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Long Way Back to the River Kwai: Memories of World War II
 
 

Long Way Back to the River Kwai: Memories of World War II [Kindle Edition]

Loet Velmans
3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Product Description

Product Description

Loet Velmans was seventeen when the Germans invaded Holland. He and his family fled to London on the Dutch Coast Guard cutter Seaman’s Hope and then sailed to the Dutch East Indies—now Indonesia—where he joined the Dutch army. In March 1942, the Japanese invaded the archipelago and made prisoners of the Dutch soldiers. For the next three and a half years Velmans and his fellow POWs toiled in slave labor camps, building a railroad through the dense jungle on the Burmese-Thailand border so the Japanese could invade India. Some 200,000 POWs and slave laborers died building this Death Railway. Velmans, though suffering from malaria, dysentery, malnutrition, and unspeakable mistreatment, never gave up hope. Fifty-seven years later he returned to revisit the place where he should have died and where he had buried his closest friend. From that emotional visit sprung this stunning memoir.

Long Way Back to the River Kwai is a simply told but searing memoir of World War II—a testimonial to one man’s indomitable will to live that will take its place beside the Diary of Ann Frank, Bridge over the River Kwai, and Edith’s Story.


Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 1009 KB
  • Print Length: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing; 1 edition (1 Sep 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B005M26IW0
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 3.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #142,095 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
By Christa
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This book is written a very long time after this terrible war. It seems to me that the author does not quite remember things, specially what occured in his childhood and youth. How he reacted at that time seems unrealistic to me.
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Amazon.com: 4.3 out of 5 stars  68 reviews
32 of 33 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One man's gut-wrenching and nearly fatal three and a half year tenure as a slave laborer for the Japanese army 6 July 2005
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The inspiration for the classic book and film "Bridge Over The River Kwai", Long Way Back To The River Kwai: Memories Of World War II is the painfully honest true story of one man's gut-wrenching and nearly fatal three and a half year tenure as a slave laborer for the Japanese army during World War II. A prisoner of war. An insert of black-and-white photographs illustrate this testimony, which presents the unvarnished truth about inhumane, brutal, and ultimately deadly torments the POWs suffered during the course of the war. Long Way Back To The River Kwai also tells of the war's end, the author's rescue and slow recovery from near-death, and his gradual readjustment. The final section tells of the author's business dealings in modern-day Japan, his reflections and friendships, and his observance of the Japanese "cultural amnesia" concerning the war and the atrocities it committed during that era. Highly recommended reading and an impressive contribution to the growing library of World War II combatant memoirs.
16 of 16 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A different view of the Pacific war. 5 April 2004
By Christopher J. Hodson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The author gives a stirring and very readable story as told from the eyes of a Dutch soldier captured by the Japanese during the invasion of Java in 1942. Velman gives a very interesting story of his backgound as a Jew in prewar Holland and his families escape from the Nazis only to fall into the hands of the Japanes later.
Most of his time as a POW was spent helping to build the Thai-Burma railroad. During this period, hundreds of thousands of Aliied prisoners and native slave labors died due to disease, famine, loss of spirit, and, of course, the direct mistreatment of them by the Japanese. All this for a railraod that was barely used and is now overgrown and torn up.
It is a compelling book and the author is still trying to come to terms with the Japanse to this day.
I also highly recommend Ernest Gordon's "Beneath the Valley of the Kwai". This book was written much earlier but tells the story from the British point of view. It is now available under the title "To End All Wars".
17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Interesting personal account 5 July 2006
By ARD - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My grandfather was a POW in Burma and came back with stories that make you shudder and I bought this book to see if there was more I could learn. Although there is preamble on how Velmans escaped from the Netherlands and then moved to Indonesia and his life after the war, the account of treatment by the Japanese and working on the Burma railroad is quite insightful. There is not much on what happened to the Japanese after the war (war crimes) and Velmans does not really give you his opinion of the treatment he received. However, as a personal account, it is an interesting book.
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A guest of the Emperor 12 Jun 2007
By James Doucette - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Loet Velmans fled Holland with his parents in a small boat during the Nazi invasion. They escaped Hitler's persecution of the Jews only to undergo three and a half years of brutal treatment by the Japanese. On reaching England the family decided to continue to the Dutch East Indies, where the parents could find work, and Loet could finish high school. After graduation Loet was drafted into the Dutch Army. On Holland's surrender in Java, he became a prisoner of war. After nine months confinement on Java, Loet was sent to Singapore, where he was confined at Changi. Loet dabbled in the black market, and even opened a 'restaurant' called the Flying Dutchman. In May 1943 he left Changi with 'H' Force, bound for the Burma Railway. After reaching Bangpong Thailand by train, Loet and his group had to march 86 miles to Spring Camp. Loet felled trees, built a section of the access road, removed boulders from the railbed with a hammer and chisel, and lost many friends. After being felled by malaria and dysentery Loet was admitted to the camp 'hospital'. Upon recovery he was assigned to duties as a medical orderly. In discussions with his fellow prisoners Loet formed the opinion that their brutal Japanese guards were representative of Japan as a whole. What the prisoners could not fathom was "...how an entire nation could get its kicks from beating and torturing its prisoners." Upon the completion of their section of the railroad the men from Spring Camp were sent to Kanchanaburi. After a month or two there Loet returned to Singapore. After several months at Syme Road Camp Loet returned to Changi. There he shared a cell in Changi Jail with Rabbi Nussbaum,(a Dutch Army Chaplain) and another Dutch POW. Following liberation Loet spent 5 months in Singapore working on a Dutch newspaper, The Oranje, which was printed on the Straits Times press. In February 1946 Loet returned to Holland where he attended Amsterdam University. There he met his wife, Edith. Edith has written Edith's Story, an account of her life as a hidden Jew in Nazi occupied Holland. In the 1950's the Velmans emmigrated to America, where Loet went to work for the public relations firm Hill and Knowlton. From the beginning Loet was heavily involved in Hill and Knowlton's far east business, and frequently found himself traveling to Japan. It is unclear whether Loet ever informed his hosts that he had spent the war as 'a guest of the Emperor.' What is clear is that the Japanese produced a "visceral reaction" in Loet. He felt that: "...the entire Japanese nation had overlooked, papered over, trivialized or forgotten the atrocities committed in the name of its Emperor." During a business trip to Tokyo in the mid seventies Loet spent a night on the town with some Japanese business executives. At a bar in the Ginza district his hosts joined the other patrons in belting out a Japanese song between rounds. After repeated inquiries one of the businessmen finally revealed to Loet that the song was a patriotic military march from World War Two that soldiers sang to raise morale. Loet quickly found himself stone cold sober. Loet reports that in his dealings with the Japanese he "...never lost my compulsion to keep a wary eye on them." He believes that westerners and Japanese still find each other incomprehensible, but has hopes that perhaps his grandchildren's generation might bridge the gap. Readers seeking to learn more about what happened to their relatives on the Burma Railway or in Changi should be advised that Loet uses only the first names of his friends who died in captivity.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars One man's gut-wrenching and nearly fatal three and a half year tenure as a slave laborer for the Japanese army 6 July 2005
By Midwest Book Review - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
The inspiration for the classic book and film "Bridge Over The River Kwai", Long Way Back To The River Kwai: Memories Of World War II is the painfully honest true story of one man's gut-wrenching and nearly fatal three and a half year tenure as a slave laborer for the Japanese army during World War II. A prisoner of war. An insert of black-and-white photographs illustrate this testimony, which presents the unvarnished truth about inhumane, brutal, and ultimately deadly torments the POWs suffered during the course of the war. Long Way Back To The River Kwai also tells of the war's end, the author's rescue and slow recovery from near-death, and his gradual readjustment. The final section tells of the author's business dealings in modern-day Japan, his reflections and friendships, and his observance of the Japanese "cultural amnesia" concerning the war and the atrocities it committed during that era. Highly recommended reading and an impressive contribution to the growing library of World War II combatant memoirs.
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