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162 of 168 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A harrowing though ultimately uplifting account.
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...
Published on 21 April 2004 by A. B. Pearl

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24 of 27 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Gripping Story
Very well written account of the SE Asia theatre of WW2.
'Into the Valley of Death rode the 600' has not much on the 50,000 into the Jungle railroad of Burma.
For me historically informative as indeed a Signals Officer is well placed to be.
Puts a completely different perspective on 'The Bridge over the River Kwai'. Authors comment on the film,...
Published 7 months ago by Declan Gray


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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Railway Man, 25 Aug 2003
By A Customer
This review is from: The Railway Man (Paperback)
I had the pleasure of meeting Mr Lomax and his wife at a school funtion some years ago. His book is wonderful as is he and I learn't that this has been a life long work for him as he has been writing this since the war. He is truly a fantastic man, and it would be a serious crime not to read his story. It takes you from childhood the to when in confronted his past, and desipte the start seeming hard to get in to, DO continue to read as it will consume you with each passing page.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting!!!, 26 April 2014
By 
Craig (Liverpool, UK) - See all my reviews
Don’t give up on it. I was going to abandon this book during the first few chapters because it wasn't really grabbing me. Trainspotting and railways don’t really draw me in but once I got past this part I couldn't put this book down.
This was only Eric Lomax’s story and there are so many thousands of other POW stories that will never get the chance to be heard. Lomax has been a fantastic representative for all those untold stories in giving the post war generations an idea of what life was like as a Prisoner Of War on the Burma- Siam railway.
I finished the book in two sittings because I just couldn't put it down. Lomax’s story is harrowing and for what he and his comrades went through at such a young age is absolutely horrendous and beyond comprehension to this generation. Watching his fellow soldiers being beaten, tortured and even killed while he too was going through the same punishment is unimaginable. The physical wounds healed but the psychological torment continued to haunt him for the rest of his life.
After fifty years of torment he seeks out one of his tormentors and meets him face to face and reconciles with him.
This is the story of endurance and the capacity of forgiveness in the human spirit.

Engrossing.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Dont be fooled by the Title., 25 Mar 2004
This review is from: The Railway Man (Paperback)
I can honestly say that this is the most incredible book that I've ever read. I got 'made' if that's the right word to read it as a chosen book for A-level English Language and Literature.
Looking at the title I really felt that the examining boards couldn't of picked anything more boring.
I felt embarrassed going into WH-Smiths and actually having to order a book by this title!!
But once I started to read it, Cliché I know, I couldn't stop.
I didn't know books existed like this that tells stories of true heroism and bravery.
Bravery probably isn't the correct word, as he had to go through it all.
It really shows the strength of character this man 'Eric Lomax' really has after going through all he did, coming face to face (by his own choosing) with one of his torturers.
A brilliant Book that's got me back into reading again, After a very long drought of not reading anything!!
I'm very glad I had it 'forced' upon me.
I've gone back to it many times. Worth the money and more!
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11 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An honest account of dignity in suffering., 12 Dec 1998
By A Customer
This review is from: The Railway Man (Paperback)
Eric Lomax writes a vivid and honest account of the sufferibg and horror of being a Far East prisoner of war.His frankness and flowing style make this a memorable book to read. For anyone who would like to start to understand what it must have felt like to have suffered at the hands of an enemy, read this book. For anyone who had a relative who was a prisoner of war of the Japanese, read this book. This book is a poignant example of how one man fought his war; with dignity and a tenacity to life.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Unsentimental and thought provoking, 19 July 2014
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This review is from: The Railway Man (Kindle Edition)
I'm not rating this four stars because it's great literature, although I think it's really well written. I'm giving it this rating because it is a moving but unsentimental account of the author's experiences as a WWII POW which I didn't want to put down and which gave me more to think about than just his personal story. Eric Lomax begins with an outline of his childhood, his fascination with trains through to his war experiences and then more briefly, his life after the war. This is not a detailed autobiography and the author makes it clear that this was never the purpose of the book. It is principally a telling of an horrific experience at the hands of the Japanese; the shadow this cast over the rest of his life and how he came to resolve his difficulties by finally confronting his past. I think he also makes the point very well, if not overtly, that had attitudes to trauma been different, had the war crimes committed against Allied troops and Indigenous populations in the Asian theatre of war, been afforded the same profile that European atrocities did, he and thousands of others might have struggled less to adjust and if not shrugged off the shadow of their past, at least shortened it. It is perhaps a lesson that still applies. Torture victims and those traumatised by war, are still with us but they don't always have a voice and they aren't always acknowledged or supported back to normality.
A note on the film: the film was obviously good, well made etc. But is the essence of a story or a condensed composite of many stories. The book is Eric Lomax's story.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Railway Man, 28 Dec 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: The Railway Man (Paperback)
The Railway Man is a moving account of the transformation that takes place in a young mans life following his capture and imprisonment by the Japanese during the Second World war. It details the impact of the torture that he receives on the rest of his life and his inability thereafter to form normal relationships. It is a wonderful advertisement for the work done by psychiatrists in rehabilitating those scarred by trauma of this kind and ends with a reconciliation which seems very unlikely at the beginning.
I have read this with a couple of different book groups and it has always provoked good discussion although some have found his trainspotters interest in rail difficult to understand. He describes an era where the belief in the ability to engineering to solve problems was unlimited and where all progress was positive. I found that added to my view of the period. Above all it is a story of courage and the inhumanity of man to man and a reaffermation of the fact that it is never too late to change.
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4.0 out of 5 stars A detailed, sometimes difficult to read account of WW2 POWs in the Far East., 8 Aug 2014
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This review is from: The Railway Man (Kindle Edition)
I'm pleased this was a book group choice because otherwise I would have abandoned and wouldn't have been able to fully appreciate it. Lomax is a self confessed train enthusiast and goes into a lot of detail which is exceedingly dull if you don't share the same passion. There's no dialogue and no character development. It is written like a report, without emotion.

I was well over halfway through and still hated it. I couldn't warm to Lomax and wanted to discard the book. At this point I wanted to give it a score of 1, but felt guilty that these people suffered so much for our freedom.

I persevered after ignoring the book for a couple of weeks and it then took a turn for the better, when I had less than 100 pages to go. The ending was moving and well worth waiting for, so I would urge you to read it and pity those who discarded it.

It was both interesting and shocking how ignorant those who weren't involved were of POWs and their experience, to the point that they viewed them to have had an easy time of it, lazing around in the camps! Astonishing! I'm pleased Lomax managed to get his traumatic stress treated and that he finally made peace with his torturers.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Un put down able!, 12 May 2014
This review is from: The Railway Man (Paperback)
I read this book in 3 short days, normally with my life as it is 300 pages + would take me 2 - 3 weeks, I couldn't put it down. Such a gripping, moving and incredible book and when I read the final paragraph I burst into tears, quite unexpectedly. A brilliant, brilliant book written by an exceptional man.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, make sure you read it before attempting to watch the film, 12 May 2014
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This review is from: The Railway Man (Paperback)
I read this a long time ago and was stunned by the Eric's resilience and will to survive. Then I found out a movie is being made and was looking forward to seeing it. Unfortunately this film does not do him justice, I guess you just can't show most of the story on screen as it would be too gory and US rating would be changed to R which is not good for profits. Anyway the book is great and it gives a good insight from the historical and human point of view. You will learn a lot from Eric.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The book of the film., 4 May 2014
By 
DubaiReader "MaryAnne" (Rowlands Castle, United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(TOP 1000 REVIEWER)    (VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Railway Man (Kindle Edition)
I very nearly gave up on this book in the early stages. The true life of a train spotter is the absolute antithesis of my choice of read. I was encouraged to persevere by the members of my book group and the book certainly improved once Eric Lomax left his home and travelled as a young signals officer to Malaya, where he is eventually taken prisoner by the Japanese.

Initially Eric and his friends are protected from the worst treatment by their knowledge of mechanics. They are put to work repairing the machinery used to construct the Burma/Siam railway. They have certain freedoms, being able to wander the island, from which there is no escape, and purchase fruit and veg to supplement their prison rations. Naturally they are desperate for news from the rest of the world and manage to construct a radio set from bits and pieces. Although it is dismantled after every use and the constituent parts hidden from sight, the Japanese somehow learn of its existence and the six mechanics are treated brutally. Two die from the beatings and Eric Lomax is so severely bruised that his whole body is black and both wrists are broken. Eric is also found to have a map of the area and this creates additional suspicions amongst the Japanese, who question him endlessly, with more beatings and semi drownings in an attempt to extract information that he does not have.

The survivors are taken to Outram prison, where they are fed just two bowls of rice a day. Disease is rife and many died. Eric survives by taking a chance and convincing the warders that he is severely ill. He is transferred to the hospital section of the notorious Changi prison, heaven in comparison to Outram.

After the war there was no treatment for sufferers of Post Traumatic Stress Syndrome, it was not known that the effects of torture could have long lasting consequences and survivors were expected to assimilate back into 'normal' life. Inevitably Eric suffers from nightmares, but also from an inability to express emotions and give of himself. He has survived by becoming very closed and withholding emotion and this has altered his personality. Fifty years later he receives the help he so desperately needed to deal with the effects of his abuse.

The final chapter sees Eric confronting the interpreter who had been present for the endless days of questioning. This man had been the centre of the hate he felt for the Japanese and the meeting of the two provides some closure for Eric Lomax's sufferings.

Not an easy read, not just for the train-spotting, but also for the harrowing abuse. It was, however, an eye-opener about life for the prisoners of war under the Japanese. The struggles of a survivor to readjust to life after war also made for interesting reading. A worthy contribution to WWII literature that will become part of the documentation for generations to come.
All respect to Eric Lomax.
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The Railway Man
The Railway Man by Eric Lomax (Paperback - 6 Jun 1996)
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