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29 of 30 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard-hitting but human - an appalling, stirring true story, 26 Sep 2000
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
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is required reading for all who really want to know of the suffering of war., 20 Jan 2010
This review is from: The Naked Island (Paperback)
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.
Despite the thousands of deaths he witnessed, mostly through needless cruelty and neglect by their Japanese captors, he was, in later years able to come to terms with it and publicly declare in a subsequent book, 'an end of a hate.'
Braddon went on to become one of the first of the 'UK Aussies' to make regular appearances on UK TV current affairs and chat programmes. He was NEVER less than highly entertaining; and very funny.
I never recall him speaking of his wartime experiences on any of those programmes. The Naked Island said it all, and that was obviously 'it', as far as he was concerned.
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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 (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Naked Island (Paperback)
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
5.0 out of 5 stars one the best books I have ever read!!!!!!!!!!!!!!, 4 Nov 2009
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Mr. Pj Williams (cardiff uk) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Naked Island (Paperback)
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
By 
AGOG (Yorkshire) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Naked Island (Paperback)
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
This review is from: The Naked Island (Paperback)
"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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5.0 out of 5 stars Magnificent classic., 29 May 2014
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This review is from: The Naked Island (Paperback)
This was published in the 1950s, and must have been one of the first lengthy descriptions of the FEPOW experience to catch the public eye. I understand that it eventually sold over a million copies, and it's easy to see why. It is so well-written: the author doesn't flinch from any detail and he includes several moments of dark, dark humour. The courage and dignity of the FEPOWs is fully described, as is the chaos and terror of the initial defeat as the author's unit was continually forced backwards. This IS a classic, and I recommend it to anyone.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Memories, 21 Oct 2013
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This review is from: NAKED ISLAND (Hardcover)
First read this book in 1957 when I was stationed in Singapore with the RAF. It was considered to be necessary reading for new arrivals. Reading it again in 2013 bought back many happy and hilarious memories of those days. Fortunately without the trials and tribulations of the author. It is a part of our history that should never be forgotten.
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5.0 out of 5 stars So good, I couldn't read it twice!, 16 Sep 2013
This review is from: The Naked Island (Paperback)
As a kid in the '50s I read most of the popular 'true' accounts of WW II - this is easily the best - in fact it's one of the best books of any genre that I've ever read.

A well-educated, intelligent, 20-year old, Braddon was enlisted in the Australian army in WW II to help the British fight the Japanese as they over-ran SE Asia on their way to an assault on India. Following the defeat of the Blimp-led resistance he was captured and ended up in Changi goal, where he learned more about life in a couple of years than most of us manage in a lifetime. Generously filled with humorous vignettes, this book, nevertheless, provides a thorough account of the brutality of Japanese occupation, together with several searching examinations of what makes his more interesting characters tick. Of particular interest is Braddon's account of Terai, the interpreter in the prison. He was a very civilised human being, obviously unwilling, or unable, to rationalise what he saw. And, equally incapable of using his officer status to mitigate the atrocities perpetrated on the prisoners - such as their systematic starvation, for example.

To call this book funny is to miss the point. The hilarious tales are there to keep the author, and probably the reader, sane as he recounts his experiences. Don't forget, he found it so funny that he attempted suicide on eventually being repatriated to Australia. As part of the healing process Braddon moved to the UK in 1949, developing his writing career and staying there for nearly 50 years. When this book was published (1952) Braddon wrote that it represented his views of the Japanese at the time, and that those views had not changed. He later recanted - you can't hate forever without being insane.

Everybody should read this, just to understand what human beings are capable of - to limit it to Japan is a mistake. Plus, it's a remarkable tale of the capacity to endure and make the best of the utterly hopeless. It will make you think very hard about making what we call democracy work - it's under constant threat from idleness, indifference, an often poisonous media, and the pompous stupidity of the average politician. But, it preserves and enforces the rules of civilisation and Amen to that!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Harrowing and absurd portrait of the folly of war, empire and race, 6 Nov 2011
This review is from: The Naked Island (Paperback)
This book can only be compared with other great accounts of the treatment of Allied civilian and military personnel during the Japanese occupation of Asia such as Empire of the Sun.

Like J.G. Ballard, the author is able to convey the horror of the Japanese on every page and chapter. At times it is necessary to put the book down or risk being overwhelmed by the images conjured up by the author.

Why is it so powerful? It is an eyewitness account from a survivor yes, but also the book is superbly written with anecdotes. vignettes and character studies which give you a remarkable insight into how the Japanese planned and executed the conquest of the Malay peninsula and how truly unprepared, daft and flawed were the pre-war plans of the British command. The bravery of the soldiers who attempted to slow down the Japanese advance exonerates Tommy Atkins from blame but one feels such despair at the arrogance, complacency and incompetence of the British army high command and Churchill too for not releasing tanks, planes and ships with which to properly defend the Straits Settlements.

Written several years after the war around 1949/50 the author states that his intention is to warn the reader of what the Asian mind is capable of doing but alas as the West declines again one fears that a new, even more destructive and repressive army is being honed in China.

We are fools to have not learned from this book.
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The Naked Island
The Naked Island by Russell Braddon (Paperback - 1955)
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