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The Forgotten Highlander: My Incredible Story of Survival During the War in the Far East

The Forgotten Highlander: My Incredible Story of Survival During the War in the Far East [Kindle Edition]

Alistair Urquhart
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (360 customer reviews)

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Product Description


A book you must read (DAILY MAIL)

Riveting, powerful, moving (OBSERVER)

A remarkable memoir (FINANCIAL TIMES)


A book you must read DAILY MAIL Riveting, powerful, moving OBSERVER A remarkable memoir FINANCIAL TIMES

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
155 of 156 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Forgotten Highlander 1 Mar 2010
The most incredible story I have ever read. I am a former serviceman and can accept war can be hell, but Alistair's war experience went beyond imagination.
Captured by the Japanese at the surrender of Singapore, Alistair was put to work on the notorious Death railway, and the bridge over the River Kwai, in Burma. Surviving this, he was shipped to Japan, only to be torepoed by the Americans. After drifting for days he was recaptured and imprisoned at Nagasaki where he saw that city's annihilation but was unaware, that it was by the Atomic Bomb.
Alistair's letters home to his family are all typical of the ready prepared version to give the impression of a "holiday camp", where he was working for pay!
Alistair's determination is the reason he survived all the suffering, the hardship, the beatings, and the starvation to eventually write this incredible memoir.
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149 of 150 people found the following review helpful
I had the priviledge of reading the final manuscript of this book a few months ago. It was outstanding and I couldn't help feeling that there are so many riveting "stories" in this book (even if some of them are very harrowing), that it stands on its own special pinnacle amongst war histories.

Throughout it all, I marvelled at Alistair's fortitude, gave thanks for his physical fitness and athleticism and wondered at his ability to keep sane when so many comrades were driven mad by the brutality of the Japanese and the hopelessness of their situation.

His treatment on coming home to Scotland was no less barbarous in its own way and I wondered how he was able to survive it all? I expect his passion for dancing, the love of his family and his own inner fortitude brought him through.

As a child and young adult, I had no real idea about the war in the Far East and only in my 30s was I able to begin to comprehend what Alistair and his comrades went through. I only knew that Alistair felt passionately about not buying Japanese products - so much so that it took me 2 years to tell him that I had bought a Japanese car!

You see this wonderful man is my Dad. Growing up, I had absolutely no idea about what he had gone through. It wasn't until I read his early short memoirs - crafted when he was in his late seventies -- that I had any notion of how incredible his experiences were and what a remarkable man he was to have survived and lived a good life on his return. He was and is an incredible father and uses his experiences to "coach" others on being positive, staying active both mentally and physically and giving back to family, friends and community.

I am so proud of him and astounded that he has written this book (a bestseller too!) in his 90th year. All I can say is that you are an inspiration to us all, Dad. There truly is no such thing as "can't"!
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135 of 137 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Forgotten Highlander 1 Mar 2010
The facinating insights into a by-gone era of Aberdeen's pre-war dance halls are the simple backdrop to this story of a simple man yanked out of his life at the point of reaching manhood to have it changed forever.

This was the lot of Mr Urquhart's generation, but The Forgotten Highlander is no hackneyed World War Two memoir, and I've read a few.

A reader may be familiar with the events that Urquhart found thrust upon him, but never have they been laid so bare as here. The joyous, simple life of dancing away his evenings with the girls of Aberdeen cast a depressing shadow over the man as he fights so hard to suppress these memories to survive.

The Forgotten Highlander is not a book for the faint-hearted yet it demands to read by all. Mr Urquhart never fired a shot, he never asked to be involved in the events in which he found himself and a warrior hero will not be found here. This is a story of an ordinary man who survived some of humanity's most atrocious acts of barbarity and destruction in a century littered with them.

That the man is still alive to again dance the evenings away is a miracle for him, but it is an opportunity for us. The reader will gain an insight in to what man is capable of both in terms of evil and what is required to survive it - for Alistair's war was not one of battles but of the conflict's most grim example of raw physical and emotional endurance. What this memoir offers is an unflinching account and it pulls no punches.
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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
I was lucky enough to be given an early copy of this wonderful book. It is a must read for everyone of all ages. I am an avad reader of all types of books, but have never in my life enjoyed one as much as this. Often terrible and heartbreaking but what a story of survival! All credit must go to the author for surviving such hell and all credit to him for having the courage to allow the world to remember events that should never be forgotten. It should make us all proud to have had folk like him giving us the freedom we enjoy today and yet ashamed that we grumble about so little in life. 5 star perfection that I'm about to read again for the third time. I salute you sir.
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49 of 51 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Forgotten Highlander 1 Mar 2010
This is a fascinating book of a man's courage and determination. It is a book that should be read by everyone to keep alive the horrors experienced by people like Alistair during the second world war. The pace of the book never drops and I read it in one go. A fabulous read.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Gripping Read 8 Mar 2010
This is a gripping, fascinating tale of survival that I read in one sitting, leaving me both inspired and angry - angry that this stoic young man who went through so much at the hands of his evil tormenters, the Japanese, only to be forgotten and thrown on the trash pile by the British government on his eventual release from captivity. Despite being packed with vivid detail of time, place, and history, this book races along at a cracking pace - you want to know what happens next to this poor chap, how he will deal with it, and how he has ever managed to live to the ripe old age of 90. I recommend this book to anyone, of any age, sex, or nationality, for we can all learn from this remarkable, honest story.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
3.0 out of 5 stars an education about the Japanese
Interesting but too repetitious about the suffering they had to endure as prisoners. Also I wasn't interested in his home life.
Published 3 days ago by Tommystu
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
Needs to be read by some of the discontents that exist in our present day society
Published 4 days ago by Norriewhat
5.0 out of 5 stars Alistair had the positive attitude second to non
This book was so easy to read. Reading more was a need not a want. A historical document never to be forgotten. Alistair was surely blessed by God, as one of his messengers. Read more
Published 5 days ago by barbara cheetham
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
An amazing tale of an incredible life.
Published 5 days ago by Rebecca Wallace
5.0 out of 5 stars A story of true courage and instinct
What an amazing story of human survival. His portrayal was gripping to the end. Feel so sorry for him and the many other soldiers who were treated so cowardly and cruelly and not... Read more
Published 6 days ago by Mrs. C. L. Redwin
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Great story
Published 13 days ago by bookgranny
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
fantastic book. loved it.
Published 16 days ago by Ann M. Owen
5.0 out of 5 stars Forgotten Highlander
Excellent book! Both sad & interesting by turns. Engenders discust at how the government of the time & subsequent ones treated those who returned from this ordeal, but what's... Read more
Published 20 days ago by lyn suddens
5.0 out of 5 stars A good read
Not flowery, just a heartfelt remembering of a horrific time in a mans life. A very worthwhile read, and very moving in places.
Published 23 days ago by jay
5.0 out of 5 stars so inspiring!
Loved this book. What a brave, brave man!! All I want to do is hug him after all that. Inspirational.
Published 23 days ago by Joanna
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Popular Highlights

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Remember, while it always seems darkest before the dawn, perseverance pays off and the good times will return. &quote;
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The words of the famous Declaration of Arbroath echo across the ages: ‘It is in truth not for glory, nor riches, nor honours that we are fighting, but for freedom - for that alone, which no honest man gives up but with life itself.’ &quote;
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Life is worth living and no matter what it throws at you it is important to keep your eyes on the prize of the happiness that will come. &quote;
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