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The Naked Island [Paperback]

Russell Braddon
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

17 Mar 2005
In 1941, after graduating from the University of Sydney, Russell Braddon enlisted in the Australian army. Together with thousands of other young Australian soldiers, he was sent to Malaya, where Allied forces were attempting to halt the territorial expansion of the Japanese. Although much vaunted as an impregnable fortress, Singapore proved instead to be a deadly trap, and Braddon spent almost four years as a prisoner of war after the city fell to the Japanese. This is not only the harrowing record of the years he spent struggling for survival in the notorious Pudu Gaol, in Changi, and in the tragic H Force on the Thai-Burma railway, but also of the equally brutal treatment of the native populations by the Japanese and the hollowness of the Greater Asian Co-prosperity Sphere they promised. Braddon emerged from Changi on swollen legs and ulcerated feet, from calls with desperate illnesses such as beri-beri and other starvation diseases, malaria and dysentery. Intelligent, tough, resourceful and tough in body and spirit, he was determined to surmount his ordeal. He even sharpened his mind by memorising the sole available book Mein Kampf! The Naked Island vividly portrays battle and prison life as experienced in the ranks. It is a tale of heroism, horror, squalor, starvation and disease endured with fortitude, ironic humour and extraordinary ingenuity.

Product details

  • Paperback: 272 pages
  • Publisher: Birlinn Ltd; 2nd Revised edition edition (17 Mar 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1843410206
  • ISBN-13: 978-1843410201
  • Product Dimensions: 2 x 13.7 x 19.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 809,802 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Russell Braddon was born in Sydney in 1921 and educated at the university there. In addition to The Naked Island, he also wrote a number of biographies (his acclaimed book on Joan Sutherland was published in 1962), novels, histories and TV scripts. He lived in Britain from 1949 until 1993, and died in New South Wales in 1995.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
28 of 29 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
This is the true story of the author's experiences as a prisoner of war of the Japanese during World War II, and is probably unfashionable these days when many people are trying to put such episodes behind them. Braddon was taken prisoner on his 21st birthday in 1940 and spend the next four to five years languishing in various overcrowded prisons and on the notorious Burma Railway of Death. The story is brutal, to be sure - malnutrition, disease and mistreatment by their captors are everyday events in the lives of the captured British, Australian and other soldiers. Both those who survive and those who die face their ordeal with humour, fortitude and a huge dose of humanity. A unique book that should never go out of print.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By Johnmac
I read the Naked Island as a schoolboy in the 1950s, when it was first published as a Pan paperback.
Until then, much of what had happened in the Far East war had gone unreported,(or had been suppressed) as had happened during he war it's self.
In those days,barely ten years after the war's end, people did not want to dwell on such things.
We lived in those days without the wall to wall violence, blood and gore, and general mayhem that we now see every day on the news, and which also now passes as entertainment.
So, when I read the book, much of what I read genuinely horrified me. I was appalled that the Japanese could have behaved in such an utterly barbaric way,not only towards helpless prisoners of war, but equally,towards their fellow Asians; whom they had determined to reduce to slavery.
Today; the story of what happened to the POWs and their Asian slaves in Japanese hands; in the camps, and on 'the railway' is well known.
But then, The Naked Island was probably the first book to bring that story to the wide audience.
It is an exceptionally vivid and well written account of what occurred, and Braddon tells the story from his arrival in Malaya, his capture in December 1941 on his 21st birthday, and through incarcerations at Singapore's Changi jail and the horrors of the Burma - Siam railway.
As with all Far East POWs he was only released, a walking skeleton, with the war's end.
At the time of writing, the wounds were still open, and Braddon pulled few punches, but through it all the story is tempered by his Australian sense of humour.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Deserves ten stars but can only give it five! 28 Dec 2009
By Bobby Smith TOP 500 REVIEWER
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
This really is a superb book. I have over 1,000 WW2 books in my collection and this is in my top ten. The way the author describes his experiences, his pen dripping with sarcasm and admiration for his fellow prisoners, is awe inspiring. I defy anyone to read this and not be moved by his accounts of beri beri, sadistic guards, bugs, lack of diet and all round misery. Like my fellow reviewer mentioned, however, the book is laced with a brand of humour that is very rough and ready - I guess it being a necessity to survive in such harsh conditions. I also loved the un-PC nature of the book - with the author telling it straight. In short, buy this book and you will not be disappointed.
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
By Mr. Pj Williams VINE VOICE
I read alot of this kind of book, some great some not so great. this is in my all time top 5! this book is the funniest book about a subject that should lack it. laugh out loud funny...aussie humour at its best. its also sad, and horrifying as you would expect but the humour gives it a human element lacking in some memoirs on the same subject. the man is a comedy genius and a greta story teller in that he lays it all bare. no sugar coating , but deals with his emotions and keeping his sanity using humour.

buy it you wont be disappointed on any level. its one of those books you end up talking about in teh pub to any one who will listen
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars INSPIRING 16 Nov 2012
I first read this book in 1970 when, as a British serviceman, I was serving in Singapore. The fact that I could visit Changi etc made the book very relevant to me at that time but over the years I have found this book very inspirational and, indeed, helpful. In some ways it has almost provided therapy. Anytime I find myself feeling sorry for myself I only have to think of what Braddon and his fellow prisoners went through to put my problems into perspective. Simply written and plainly told this is a story that should be made available in schools to let today's youngsters understand what happened and how important it is to make sure it never happens again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Russell Braddon - The Naked ISLAND 14 Dec 2011
"The Naked Island is a war narrative of appalling suffering, but also of indomitable courage and endurance on the part of British and Australian soldiers. Russell Braddon arrived in Malaya in 1941. After sketchy training the troops were plunged into battle against an enemy well trained and overwhelming in numbers. Defeat was inevitable. On his twenty-first birthday he was captured and seated in a ditch to be shot - but the Japanese changed their minds. Then followed over three years of captivity - in Kuala Lumpur, in Changi gaol at Singapore, in Thailand (Siam) building the notorious 'railway of death'. The Japanese knew every trick of humiliating and breaking their prisoners. Yet the captives showed that the human spirit can surmount the extremes of physical agony and stay unconquered; and a few men of exceptional bravery emerged, like Padre Noel Duckworth and the medical officer Major Kevin Fagan. Russell Braddon tells the tale with simplicity and with a cynical wit. He does not disguise his view that thousands suffered for the mistakes of pre-War planners. Readers are warned, too, that he does not gloss over the grim details of the prisoners ordeals."

"Every one should brace himself to read The Naked Island...a straight story of unforgettable courage, endurance, and even gentleness." - Joseph Taggart in the Star

"The book bears a burden of truth that transcends its vividness and perceptible authenticity." - Guy Ramsey in the Daily Telegraph

"Simplicity and a notable lack of dramatic embellishment make his story the more disturbing and authentic." - Times Literary Supplement

"A great book because of its stark realism, its Swift-like satire, its searing irony." - Irish Independent

"Its impact is shattering." - Reynold's News

Prisoner of War memoir by an Australian captured by the Japanese in Malaya during the Second World War.
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