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31 of 32 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Reclaiming Colonel Toosey's place in history, 11 Oct 2005
By 
mary zacaroli (Oxford, Oxon United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
Julie Summers has written an exceptional biography about her grandfather Philip Toosey. It is well-researched, brilliantly written and has social insights that go far beyond most military biographies. She also puts in quirky details that add colour and interest.
Though spanning her grandfather's whole life, it is his experiences as a PoW that make it so compelling. We see how he treated his men and tried to protect them, how he was able to command them so well because he was not a career soldier and therefore could think outside the box. He had a great sense of humour, but was firmly based in reality, understanding the needs of his men after the war, for example, when he asked for a load of condoms to be delivered.
What I particularly like about the biography is that Ms Summers uses her privileged position as his grand-daughter to show, rather than hide, the family side of Colonel Toosey - warts and all. We see, for example, the marital difficulties he had with his wife post-war. Summers found when researching that theirs was not an isolated incident. How refreshing to highlight such points when the social cost is often hidden under a stiff upper lip.
As the World War II slips further into the past, I hope that this book gets a wide readership. Ms Summers' fresh, simple style makes real a world that today, sadly, seems almost fictional. It also rescues her grandfather from the perception that he was somehow like Colonel Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai. He was a much bigger hero than that.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Inspiring, 23 Sep 2008
By 
S. Bigg (United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Colonel of Tamarkan: Philip Toosey and the Bridge on the River Kwai (Paperback)
Just one of many stories of heroism, bravery & comradeship that have come out of the second world war but what an inspiring man Toosey should be to all of us.

For those people whose only knowledge of Japanese held POW's and the Thai - Burma railway comes from David Lean's "Bridge over the river Kwai" this book should be added to your bookshelf - after being read of course!

It not only gives the reader an insight into a true, and remarkable, British Officer it also documents the conditions under which the Japanese forced the POWs to work, live and attempt to survive (sometimes not for the faint hearted).

Perhaps its not that well written as mentioned in other reviews but I did not notice. Toosey's story, and that of the men who laboured with him in the camps and on the line, is both gripping and compelling in equal measures. It is one of the few books that I can honestly say I could not put down from start to end.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A fantastic read..., 20 Feb 2013
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This review is from: The Colonel of Tamarkan: Philip Toosey and the Bridge on the River Kwai (Paperback)
Forget the fiction - this is a great true story of a remarkable man. An inspirational story and a great read. Hard to believe the conditions that these brave men endured. Read this book.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tribute to an extraordinary Man, 15 Nov 2009
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This is the story of a very remarkable man. It continually made me reflect and think deeply. I plead some special interest, so that I am not emotionally detached, in that my parents knew the Tooseys in Willaston in the Wirral in the years immediately following the war and, as a small boy, I met "Toosey" and others of the family.

I can just remember a bit about the War at first hand so that all the way through the book I found myself asking the question, "How would I have conducted myself in the same circumstances?" I am just so full of admiration for the outstanding qualities of the man, that I know that I would have fallen so far short as effectively not to be on the same planet. So I hope it goes without saying that this is the most absorbing story of a man who gradually unfolded the most amazing strength of character. I freely admit that my critical faculties were not engaged with the literary standard of the writing but if the writing is to be judged by the ability of the author to make the reader turn the page over and read to the end and then to wish he or she had not finished the book, then this biography takes its place at the top table.

If one is interested in what makes a leader, what makes men look for guidance to someone, and,yes, what makes one human being love another human being, then read the book. It is perhaps a masculine book, political correctness is not within its cognisance, but when the chips are down - and they were indeed as low as it gets - the story told of the indomitable nature of the human spirit is quite simply inspiring - and very humbling. That Phillip Toosey's Japanese opponents recognised this fundamental truth as well tells us much about the elemental human condition.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great man, 5 April 2011
By 
Mrs. TK Ellis "Bookworm" (High Wycombe, Bucks) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Colonel of Tamarkan: Philip Toosey and the Bridge on the River Kwai (Paperback)
I finished this wonderful book this morning on the train and cannot praise it enough. Although not the best written biography I have ever read the subject of it compels you to read more and to want to know more about this moral, courageous and compassionate man.

I first came across the name Philip Toosey in the book "Surviving the Sword Prisoners of the Japanese 1942-1945" by Brian MacArthur (another fabulous book and highly recommended) and was determined to find out more about this remarkable man. I'm pleased I did.

The book is written by his grand-daughter. The only time she relates the story through her eyes is in the very last pages of the book, although there are one or two anecdotes that she mentions regarding her sister Stephanie, again towards the end of the book. And, although I have mentioned it is not the best written biography I have ever read it is one that drew me in from the beginning and kept me thoroughly engaged from beginning to end, and the reason - the character of Philip Toosey.

I will not go over every detail in the biography as Julie Summers has done a reasonable job of this, but I will say that after reading about his struggles with the Japanese and his continued fight, even after the war, to look after men who had been PoWs I found my self greatly endeared to this man. His compassion and understanding of the human condition are limitless. His courage in standing up to his captors to protect his men is incredible. The plain truth of the matter is that many men would have died in captivity if it had not been for the actions of Toosey and so many others like him.

I would urge everyone to read this book, and to realise what a fantastic human being Philip Toosey was. The term "hero" is always so readily used these days that it is wonderful to read about a man who truly was one. Please read it you won't be disappointed. God bless the Colonel of Tamarkan.
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4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, 15 April 2006
By 
I have been a massive fan of the film since I was very young. I heard "stories" from my grandad who served in Burma and have read numerous accounts of differing Military History.

My title says it all for this book as I just couldn't put it down.

Toosey was definitely a heroic military leader in all sense of the phrase. Buy the book and read the history. Everyone should know what really happened instead of just watching the Hollywood glamour!
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Myth versus historical truth: Bridges on the River Kwai, 3 Jan 2010
By 
Mr. C. J. W. Addy "Chris" (Jersey, Channel Islands) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Colonel of Tamarkan: Philip Toosey and the Bridge on the River Kwai (Paperback)
It's extraordinary how much damage to historical truth can be done by misleading films and fact-based fictional publications, (let alone inaccurate so called academic historical accounts) however strong they appear to be in their own right as creative works.

Such is the case with the film 'The Bridge on the River Kwai' (1957), which was based on Pierre Boulle's fictional work 'Le Pont de la Riviere Kwai' (1952). Met with great international critical acclaim, Sam Spiegel's film came to be seen by many who viewed it as an accurate account of the events that took place at Tamarkan PoW Camp, near Kanchanaburi, Thailand, 1942-1943. The lead character and Prisoner of War camp commander Colonel Nicholson, portrayed in the film by Alec Guinness, bears scant resemblance to the real-life camp commander Colonel Philip Toosey, whilst the film itself is misleading in many other respects. It is commonly understood that myth, subject to repetition and the passage of time, becomes accepted as fact and hence a realistic interpretation of actual events. The director's refusal, on the request of the National Federation of Far Eastern Prisoners of War (FEPOW)- of which Colonel Toosey was a founding member, to clearly acknowledge on the screen the film that the account was indeed fictional, was an act of disrespect to Colonel Toosey and the numerous men who suffered and died during the construction of the bridges over the Khwae Mae Khlong.

Julie Summer's book puts to rights these misleading impressions by elaborating upon the pre-war, wartime and post-war activities of Philip Toosey and his colleagues from the time of the fall of Singapore, until his repatriation to England in November 1945, whilst making repeated reference to Spiegel's film. Her lengthy thesis is hugely rich in detail, both insightful and fair in interpretation of Col. Toosey's character in its strengths and shortcomings. In contrast to the fictional Nicholson, Colonel Toosey was by all accounts (well documented in innumerable letters and other first hand evidence) a great Britain of heroic stature whose key intention was, as a leader and by example, the survival - both physical and mental well-being - of his men by retaining discipline, upholding morale and retaining self-respect among those being forced to work, under threat of brutality, in horrific conditions, by their Japanese captors.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A challenging book., 13 May 2014
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This review is from: The Colonel of Tamarkan: Philip Toosey and the Bridge on the River Kwai (Paperback)
I have not had time to read this yet but I became aware of this extraordinary man in the late 70's when I was privileged to have some contact with Far East Prisoners of War. FEPOWs. These guys were real heroes of the war but overshadowed by the success of more famous soldiers e.g the Desert Rats. Perhaps with the production of a film like the "Railway Man" it may be possible to realise something of the suffering British soldiers suffered at the hands of the Japanese. One in four sleepers of the Burma railway represent the life of an allied serviceman. I look forward to reading this book, which arrived in good time.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent and educational reading!, 12 Mar 2014
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This review is from: The Colonel of Tamarkan: Philip Toosey and the Bridge on the River Kwai (Paperback)
The book carefully explains the differences between the fiction that was the book & movie 'Bridge on the River Kwai' and the stark, horrific factual reality which the PoWs experienced. The suffering of these soldiers and the many others affected by the treatment meted out by the Imperial Japanese Army is truly awful - but needs to be told, and remembered.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Story by which I could follow my fathers capture., 8 Jun 2013
By 
Janice Skilton (Herts. England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Colonel of Tamarkan: Philip Toosey and the Bridge on the River Kwai (Paperback)
Story is well written and clear to follow, My Dad was captured at the same battle as Toosey. Major
David Boyle (Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders) was Dads CO for the 2 years before he was sent on the 'Hell Ships' to work on Jap mainland for the final year of the war. Boyle remained with Toosey.
I learned more about my fathers capture and life as a POW than I really needed to... but to read the book was my choice. Film of my fathers release and evidence of his torture are often shown on tv. I have never contacted anyone to identify him.
I had the pleasure of meeting Toosey's grandson last year at a FEPOW concert meet up.
The only problem I had was that the picture pages kept falling out of the book. Did think book could have been more robust.
I would be happy to be contacted by anyone who is interested in shared information.
jbskilton@hotmail.com
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