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The Forgotten Highlander: My Incredible Story of Survival During the War in the Far East Paperback – 14 Apr 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus (14 April 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349122571
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349122571
  • Product Dimensions: 12.6 x 2.6 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (476 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 9,978 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Review

A book you must read (DAILY MAIL)

Riveting, powerful, moving (OBSERVER)

A remarkable memoir (FINANCIAL TIMES)

Book Description

* An extraordinary and moving tale by an ex-POW and last surviving member of the Gordon Highlanders regiment that was captured by the Japanese in Singapore, out now in paperback

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4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

185 of 186 people found the following review helpful By Joyce Aiston on 14 April 2010
Format: Hardcover
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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160 of 162 people found the following review helpful By Mr. Ian G. Thomson on 1 Mar. 2010
Format: Hardcover
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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139 of 141 people found the following review helpful By Matthew D. Low on 1 Mar. 2010
Format: Hardcover
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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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful By Mr. G. Ferguson on 30 Mar. 2010
Format: Hardcover
First of all my interest in this book was spurred on by the fact that my father was a Gordon Highlander, but did not take part in the Japanese theatre of the Second World War, he was involved in the campaign in Europe. However, I found this book really interesting as a social history of that time. Alistair Urquhart's experiences as a POW with the Japanese are almost unbelievable and you can see why many men who lived through this experience have hardened hearts towards the Japanese ever since. In Mr Urquhart's case he has shown a great deal of restraint and in one incidence reported in the book assisted a doctor in giving a helping hand to a Japanese family who's young daughter was ill. I am amazed that anyone survived what the allied prisoners got through when working on the railway in Burma and Thailand, and I am also appalled at the treatment that was meted out by the British Government to the returning POWs. I would recommend this book to anyone wanting to know about the social history of this period. Quite often amateur genealogists regret not haven spoken to people who lived through such periods, this book is a treasury of personal information. Thank you for writing it.
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