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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Changi was genesis, the place of beginning again"
We should be really grateful for the strike that prevented Clavell to work as a screenplay writer and director for a few weeks in the early sixties and led them to write his first novel. In this edition there is a nice prologue by his daughter explaining what prompted him to write this book, and how quickly he wrote it. The novel is a fictionalized retelling of Clavell's...
Published on 29 Sep 2007 by Sebastian Fernandez

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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Human condition on a POW Japanese WWII camp
Very good novel about human condition on a POW Japanese WWII camp, although not one of my favourite James Clavell's novels I was not disappointed with the book.

Recommended.
Published on 22 Nov 2009 by Master Mind


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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars "Changi was genesis, the place of beginning again", 29 Sep 2007
By 
Sebastian Fernandez (Tampa, Florida United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: King Rat (Paperback)
We should be really grateful for the strike that prevented Clavell to work as a screenplay writer and director for a few weeks in the early sixties and led them to write his first novel. In this edition there is a nice prologue by his daughter explaining what prompted him to write this book, and how quickly he wrote it. The novel is a fictionalized retelling of Clavell's experiences in a Japanese prisoner of war camp in Singapore.

Clavell does an amazing job in describing the personalities of the different characters that take part in the story. The fact that the camp held American, English and Australian prisoners provided him with the opportunity to showcase his acute understanding of the different cultures. If you add on top of that the Japanese and the locals that were in charge of managing the camp, you will find a wealth of characters that make this a mesmerizing read. There are two characters though, that are at the center of this tale, and whose actions could serve as a study in sociology. One is an American, the King, who is a corporal that has the ability to facilitate commerce, which is prohibited by camp rules, and therefore makes a very nice living, especially when compared with everyone else. When the King meets Peter Marlowe, a British Lieutenant, the contrast of personalities and moral codes could not be clearer. Thus starts an unusual friendship that will test Marlowe's character and convictions, since he will have to decide between compromising his morals in return for better living conditions for him and his friends, and sticking to his guns and keep on living miserably.

One thing that you can tell as soon as you start reading this novel, and that is confirmed later, is that Clavell is an excellent narrator and has a gift for describing characters and give them a soul. This helps understand how he can hold the reader's attention without it wavering in lengthy novels like "Shogun". In this case, the parts that deal with the secret commerce help provide the story with variety, because they speed up the pace and change the tone. It is also interesting that this edition includes the passages related to the situation of those left behind, mainly wives and kids. These provide additional insights into the lives of the prisoners, helping us understand their motivations and behavior better.

In summary, this can only be defined as an excellent read. Although it has some scenes that may be hard on some readers for their brutality, I believe that the great majority of people will love it.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An amazing read. Recomended to anyone, 22 Dec 2000
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This review is from: King Rat (Paperback)
A story about a Japanese POW camp (Changi) during the second world war, this book is the tale of the prisoners within the jail. Most notably, corporal "King" an American, who is the only one within the camp to have made good from his circumstances. King is the most hated and also the most popular man within the camp. However, he makes his only real friend in Peter Marlowe, an English RAF flight Leiutenant. James Clavell writes possibly the most detailed and realistic story about life as a POW in Japan, and gives the reader the closest look at the terrors which were faced that anyone will ever get.
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10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 24 Jan 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: King Rat (Paperback)
Set in a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in WWII, King Rat is a brilliant and gripping story that follows the lives and deaths of the men trapped behind the wire, held by brutal guards and slowly starving. Friendships and hatreds bloom, and we come to really care about the fate of the characters. King Rat shows the way that people survive extreme hardships: some by pulling together and helping each other, some by acting purely out of selfishness. Plus, how people try to impose their own order and maintain their own power in a place where they are helpless. A very incisive look at the human condition that is relevant everywhere: you'll recognise your work colleagues amongst the inmates.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable., 21 Aug 2013
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I read this many years ago and liked Clavells style of writing and his characters. It is a little dated now, with the passage of time and the slamming it took from ww2 changi prisoners, but a great novel of the time.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars James Clavell, 20 May 2012
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This review is from: King Rat (Paperback)
James Clavell - A brilliant author (very disapointingly now deceased - so no more books from this source) and an absolutely brilliant book
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read, 28 Mar 2012
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This review is from: King Rat (Paperback)
I liked this book. It was a good read. For me it didn't compare well with the other classics like Shogun but the story kept me reading until the end.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Highly ratted!!, 22 Oct 2010
This review is from: King Rat (Mass Market Paperback)
I kind of enjoyed Shogun but didn't really enjoy any of the rest of Clavell's novels and nearly didn't bother with this one. However, as soon as I began reading I could not put it down. It is a truly fascinating and thrilling account of life in Changi prisoner of war camp. Everything was very carefully and accurately observed and everything has a strong ring of truth to it. There are really fascinating character studies and a lot of interesting detail combined with a very good narrative. Excellent fodder for the amateur historian. For me, this was such a contrast to the tedious, one-dimensional, misogynistic melodrama of his later works. They say that most writers only have one good book in them -- well -- in my opinion King Rat is Clavell's and I would highly recommend you read it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars WWII story of POW in the Pacific theate., 9 July 2014
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A good read which reminds us of the horrors and privations of war.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Worth reading, 21 Mar 2014
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Classic James Clavel novel, good story line. Bettered only by Tia Pan in my opinion. Definitely worth taking time to read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Riveting, 13 Mar 2014
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This review is from: King Rat (Paperback)
This is probably James Clavell's finest achievement and made all the more interesting considering his own experiences in Changi. Although by all accounts he publicly denied this being autobiographical.

Not only does this story give you a tremendous insight into what it was like to be a prisoner of war to the Japanese in Singapore but it's also a riveting read that would suit almost any age. Clavell made his name with epic asian or pan-asian tales, some of these can be quite difficult to read though - especially Shogun - but this is extremely easy. The characters work well and are developed enough to draw you in to their world.

I really can't recommend this more highly to you. It is an absolute classic from an epic master story teller.
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King Rat
King Rat by James Clavell (Paperback - 1 July 1999)
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