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The Railway Man Paperback – 6 Jun 1996


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Product details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; New Ed edition (6 Jun 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0099582317
  • ISBN-13: 978-0099582311
  • Product Dimensions: 12.9 x 1.7 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,141 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 45,575 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Review

"What a great book. What a great man" (Harry Ritchie Daily Mail)

"Forget the grueling films, just read the brilliant books" (Independent)

"This beautiful, awkward book tells the story of a fine and awkward man. Here, I think, is an account that rises above mere timeliness and comes near to being a classic of autobiography" (Ian Jack Guardian)

"When I turned to the book, the complexity of Lomax's emotions came alive and burned off the page" (Independent)

"Of all the billions of words that have been written about the Second World War, with the exception of Churchill's Nobel Prize winning history, it is not an exaggeration to say there is no account of it more worth reading that this. Wistfully romantic, historically important, startling, horrifying and ultimately electrifyingly uplifting, The Railway Man is as indispensable as any book can be." (Tom Peck Independent)

Book Description

Highly-anticipated film starring Colin Firth, Nicole Kidman and Jeremy Irvine (Warhorse) released January 2014

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

163 of 169 people found the following review helpful By A. B. Pearl on 21 April 2004
Format: Paperback
This account of the author's experiences as a Japanese prisoner of war is, as you'd expect, a fairly harrowing one. But what lifts this remarkable tale is the book's humanity and compassion, and the tenderness of its narrative.
Whether Eric Lomax is re-living his childhood fascination with steam locomotives and trams, or describing the horrendous, inhuman acts of torture, the prose are consistently imbued with an almost poetic and innocent sense of wonder.
The details, observations and character sketches are authentically andvividly drawn. But it is the final passages of this book which document the author's determination to come face to face with one of his torturers, that make this extaordinary book so moving, compelling and ultimately uplifting.
Alex Pearl, author of 'Sleeping with the Blackbirds'
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93 of 98 people found the following review helpful By Timothy De Ferrars on 1 Jun 2005
Format: Paperback
Eric Lomax, like many young men of his generation, had a love for steam railways that bordered on an obsession. It was ironic then that he ended up as a prisoner of war on the notorious Burma Railroad, enduring torture and experiencing dreadful war crimes perpetrated against Allied prisoners.
This poignant book plays with the reader's emotions, first stoking up outrage at the appalling treatment meted out to this gentle man by his Japanese captors, then unexpectedly flipping its perpective to deliver a brilliant and unexpected climax.
The result is a literary gem, but it is Lomax's honesty rather than his cleverness as a writer that ensures that this book succeeds. I recommend it strongly.
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68 of 73 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 14 Dec 2001
Format: Paperback
I can't recommend this book too highly. Probably the best book I've ever read about the Second World War and mans inhumanity to man. Yet it still leaves you with a belief in mans essential goodness. Buy it.
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81 of 89 people found the following review helpful By A. Whitehead TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on 2 Aug 2010
Format: Paperback
In February 1942, the city of Singapore, defended by 80,000 British and Commonwealth troops, surrenders to the Japanese. The loss of Singapore, coupled with the preceding loss of the British warships Repulse and Prince of Wales, is described by Churchill as the darkest British moments of the Second World War, whilst the capitulation of Singapore becomes the British Army's greatest defeat.

Amongst the tens of thousands of British soldiers rounded up and taken into captivity is Lt. Eric Lomax, a Royal Signals officer. Initially, the vast mass of British POWs hugely outnumbers their Japanese captors, leading to a relaxed atmosphere where the British prisoners mostly police themselves. Overconfident, many of the British prisoners began building home-made radios to keep a closer eye on the course of the war. However, as time passes the POWs begin to be dispersed, many being sent to be worked to death on the River Kwae railway as it slowly makes its way across Thailand and into Burma. In these smaller camps, much more aggressively policed by Japanese guards, the prisoners find their confidence and expectation of good treatment rapidly disabused. Lomax's involvement in the construction of clandestine radios leads him to being imprisoned, humiliated, tortured and condemned to a number of horrific prisons in and around Bangkok.

Eventually the war ends and Lomax returns home, but finds that his torture continues. His experiences lead to the breakdown of his first marriage, an estrangement from his father and decades of nightmares and broken sleep patterns.
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12 of 13 people found the following review helpful By Chunky Monkey on 21 Mar 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Mr Lomax's harrowing account of his imprisonment during WWII is a window on a part of history that we should all learn from. Much of Mr Lomax's story is similar to thousands of POWs during this time, but, by his own admission, many are unable to speak of their experiences, much less share them in writing. This makes his story all the more compelling and important to understand.

It was with increasing admiration that I read each page, not least the subsequent years after the war, coming to terms with what he had experienced; suffering in silence during much of this time before finally confronting his past.

I feel it a matter of due respect that I refer to the author formally as Mr Lomax and recommend highly that this book be read and reread for generations. Importantly, the account is well told and events described in such detail that I was able to imagine the environment and the people with startling clarity.

Frightening, uplifting and inspirational; an honour to have been a witness through the eyes of Mr Lomax and I owe him thanks.
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38 of 42 people found the following review helpful By Arnaud033 on 31 Jan 2008
Format: Paperback
I have never read a book so fast in all my life! A real 'page-turner', a riveting story. Its incredible that anyone could survive the experiences described in this book. I think that this book is crying out to be made into a film. It has everything that would make a truly great film :- a time of turmoil, an exotic location, a mild-mannered character drawn into a horrifying set of circumstances and surviving against staggering odds, humanity displayed at its best and at its worst, the backdrop of a world war, and ultimate reconciliation and forgiveness - the solution of an inner torment that could be solved in no other way.

I hope to see this on the big-screen one day.
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