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One Fourteenth Of An Elephant Paperback – 1 Aug 2005


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Product details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Bantam (1 Aug 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0553816578
  • ISBN-13: 978-0553816570
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 19.8 x 4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (15 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 872,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"'One of the great epics of our time' - SUN HERALD. 'A triumph of memory and passion' - WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN. 'Peek has forged a diamond out of the terrible degradation of the past' - MELBOURNE AGE"

Book Description

A powerful memoir of life and death as a POW working on the Burma-Thailand Railway.

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18 of 18 people found the following review helpful By Mike Higgins on 11 Nov 2004
Format: Hardcover
Like most people of my generation, I thought I knew all about the Burma Railway and the privations of the POW's that worked on it as slave labour. But now, having read this excellent new book, I realise I never knew the half of it. Mr Peek has written a warts and all account of his time spent building this railway, that the Japanese thought was so important to their quest to conquer all of South East Asia. They were unbelievably brutal to the POW's. Most of the 1000's of deaths occurred from neglect. The POW's were fed what amounted to starvation rations and consequently came down with every tropical disease in the book. The Japanese offered no medical facilities whatsoever. Mr Peek pulls no punches when he talks about his Japanese captors. His language may not seem to be terribly politically correct these days, especially 60 years after the event, but his account would seem to be honest. When you reach the end of this book its easy to see why so many of his generation can never forgive or forget. A special hatred was reserved for the British and Allied Officers, captured during the fall of Singapore. Whilst the men under their command were being brutalised on a day-to-day basis, the Officers, with a few notable exceptions, were content to stay aloof and did absolutely nothing to help. 1000's of men were reduced to wearing nothing more than a makeshift loincloth, but the Officers strutted around in carefully looked after, parade-ground standard spotless uniforms. Harrowing though this account of the Burma Railway is, it is curiously uplifting in a way, because the author shows how the human spirit can rise above almost everything that life can throw at it. I can thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who would like to learn the truth about the situation in South East Asia during WW2.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Debbielloyd on 18 Dec 2005
Format: Paperback
I picked up this book by chance and really had no idea what it was going to be about , it was the title that caught me ! I ended up walking around the house reading it ~literally ! It is an account of his time as a Prisoner ( or should it be Slave ? ) of War in Burma and Siam. He was put to work with thousands of others in building the infamous Burma railway. How he survived I do not know. How he kept his spirits high, I shall never understand.The circumstances and conditions in which they were kept defies belief. Written in a diary format, it kept me gripped until the very last page. I too would recommend it as History reading for School children.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 7 Oct 2005
Format: Paperback
Having been to the Bridge over the river kwai, at the time I couldn't beleive how they managed to build such a engineering feat in the tropical humidity and heat and although I knew conditions were hard it wasn't until I read the book I realised how hard they really were.It was so well written and at times it left you feeling so humble, that thousands of men struggled and died in the terrrible conditions.He describes his feelings and thoughts and has you laughing ,crying and getting angry all the time you are reading it. It should be compulsory reading in all schools so we learn and do not forget what a sacrafice these men went through.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By Panther on 8 Sep 2004
Format: Hardcover
Although many of the author's experiences, which are vividly described in the present tense, are repeated, the book cannot be considered long-winded or repetitive because it is chock full with moving and absorbing anecdotes of both the author's and fellow POWs' usually dreadful (but sometimes amusing) stories. Although this is a long book, I could not help wanting to turn the next page and find out more of this gripping tale. No reader can remain a disinterested observer; the treatment of POWs described herein is too shocking not to engender anger and astonishment at the barbaric behaviour of Japanese and Korean soldiers.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By Barbara Steward on 30 April 2005
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book was brilliantly harrassing, I wanted to be able to go offer the prisoners food and medicine, such were the vivid descriptions of deprivation. The tenacity of those young men wouldn't go amiss in todays society and how Denys Peek survived is a miracle, he must have had a wonderful constitution and strong mental health. I was very surprised at the officers behaviour.."I'm alright Jack mode" and very glad to be enlightened.
This book should be compulsory reading in schools, with its vivid descriptions and tons of truth about dreadful happenings.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By M. Jamieson on 23 Oct 2008
Format: Paperback
Having read a few personal biographies from all aspects of the war I was handed a copy of Eric Lomax's excellent book "The Railway Man". This fed an interest in the subject and I managed to get my hands on a copy of this book, "One Fourteenth of an Elephant". The book starts not with the authors life story but delves straight into the nightmare that was to become his life for the next few years. It is an honest and raw account of life on the Burma-Thia railway written in such a way as to give you a full understanding of what happened, the horrors and the torture these people went though. It is disturbing but rewarding, he has a unique way of detailing aspects that have obviously stayed with his throughout the next 50 years until the book was written, you feel it could have been written during the time of internment due to it's detailed descriptions and details of daily life.
An excellent book. One of the best I have read (all for the wrong reasons!) and one that will stay on my shelf forever more as a tribute to him and his brave companions. If you have read the Railway Man you NEED to read this book as it fills in the blanks about life building the railway.
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