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The Railway Man (Vintage War) [Paperback]

Eric Lomax
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (747 customer reviews)
RRP: 8.99
Price: 6.29 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over 10. Details
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Book Description

6 Jun 1996 Vintage War


During the second world war Eric Lomax was forced to work on the notorious Burma-Siam Railway and was tortured by the Japanese for making a crude radio.

Left emotionally scarred and unable to form normal relationships Lomax suffered for years until, with the help of his wife Patti and the Medical Foundation for the Care of Victims of Torture, he came to terms with what had happened and, fifty years after the terrible events, was able to meet one of his tormentors.

The Railway Man is an incredible story of innocence betrayed, and of survival and courage in the face of horror.

Winner of the Waterstones Esquire Award for Non-Fiction, the JR Ackerley Prize and the NCR Book Award.

Frequently Bought Together

The Railway Man (Vintage War) + Twelve Years a Slave: A True Story (Collins Classics) + Philomena: The true story of a mother and the son she had to give away (film tie-in edition)
Price For All Three: 11.34

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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: 1.9 x 13.1 x 19.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (747 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 13,984 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"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
156 of 161 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A harrowing though ultimately uplifting account. 21 April 2004
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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90 of 94 people found the following review helpful
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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64 of 69 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Wonderful book 14 Dec 2001
By A Customer
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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74 of 81 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Powerful and impressive 2 Aug 2010
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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36 of 40 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars OUTSTANDING! 31 Jan 2008
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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28 of 31 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars superb read 9 July 2007
Not being an avid reader of books I picked up this one after being recommended by John Gaunt on Talksport.
Though I'd give it a go... and it blew me away. There are two parts in particular that literally reduced me to tears.
But as i said I don't normally read books however this is a masterpiece and has sparked off a whole new passion for reading within me.
I have subsequently bought 3 more books on the subject and having read the Railway man I can't wait to start the next.
If you don't have this book in your collection you must be mad!!!!!!
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11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A personal account; a window into history 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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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Absorbing story
This is the Burma - Siam railway story by a British POW who endured it. Well worth reading as it brings into focus the awfulness of the situation. Read more
Published 17 hours ago by Graham
5.0 out of 5 stars A Good Buy
Bought it for the wife who like all thing Lawrence and she is happy with it and taking it on holiday to read
Published 1 day ago by Jeffrey Charles james Elson
5.0 out of 5 stars A lesson
Eric Lomax is a lesson in life. He points us towards acceptance and forgiveness. It took him half a lifetime to reach his best and it was time well spent. Read more
Published 1 day ago by christine devlin
5.0 out of 5 stars A Must Read!
Came across this book in Thailand at the railway museum in 2007 & decided to buy & read. This is my all time number 1 & some parts are hard to read but that's the way it was. Read more
Published 1 day ago by MBNA
5.0 out of 5 stars Railway man
I found this a gripping read. What a man and how did all those men that survived, survive after what they went through. We should never forget what they did for us.
Published 2 days ago by Mrs. Jennifer M. Coulson
3.0 out of 5 stars Not as good as the film.
Having seen the film, I expected rather more from this book. It's not at all a poor read, but lacks dialogue and might have been better in literary terms had it not been a... Read more
Published 3 days ago by D. A. Matthews
5.0 out of 5 stars Must read
Whilst reading the book I you tube clips of Eric Lomax, for me it made the book come to life. I cannot believe how this man even functioned after the war but glad he found some... Read more
Published 4 days ago by Miss J. Taylor
5.0 out of 5 stars Great
What a fantastic story this is. So absorbing and interesting facts. Learned more about the war/railway/construction/planning etc than I had imagined.
Published 4 days ago by sas
5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant book
This was action packed from beginning to end.
Harrowing story of the allies in captivity by the Japanese during WW11. Read more
Published 4 days ago by Stewie
5.0 out of 5 stars The railway man
A really well written account of a Japanese POW in ww2 showing the torment of both the aggressors and the prison.
Published 4 days ago by mr B wilson
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