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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Harsh, but a little confusing.
I have no doubt that the state of Thai prisons is as harsh as made out in this book.
Having lived in Thailand for months at a time, I would suggest that the corruption, and violence that stems from that rotten core, as described in this book is perfectly accurate. To say that Police, prison guards and other Thai's treat farang with utter distain I would suggest, is...
Published on 20 Sept. 2007 by Tom

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Innocent...? I am not so sure.....
I have read a few of these books so was expecting the same sort of story - Thai corruption, dirty prisons etc...But what I found when I read this book was that I couldn't actually believe that he was innocent. How can he go from a 'normal' business man with a family, to a complete thug who headbutts people, then attacks prisoners. I do not believe his account of the fight...
Published on 16 Aug. 2011 by A. Bartholomew


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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Harsh, but a little confusing., 20 Sept. 2007
By 
This review is from: Welcome to Hell: One Man's Fight for Life Inside the Bangkok Hilton (Paperback)
I have no doubt that the state of Thai prisons is as harsh as made out in this book.
Having lived in Thailand for months at a time, I would suggest that the corruption, and violence that stems from that rotten core, as described in this book is perfectly accurate. To say that Police, prison guards and other Thai's treat farang with utter distain I would suggest, is also highly likely. They don't like us much as it is when we're out on the streets, let alone convicted of a serious crime and awaiting sentance.
The thing that had me raising an eyebrow was the inconsistancy of Colin Martin's character.
A family man to start. Kids, wife, good business acumen. Conned out of some serious cash by hard hitting and large scale fraudsters. Ok. So far so good. It happens.
But then we see a darker side to Martin. Maybe its in the way he chose to write the book, maybe I'm reading too much into it, but a man goes from placid businessman, to someone who stalks and hunts the men who ripped him off. Still feasable. For 3 years? Benefit of the doubt.
But the moment comes when he meets one of the fellons and he smashes his face in with a headbutt?! No pre banterr, no real conversing or at least threatening... Just Bang !!! Headbutt and assault. From here on in I was just not taking to Martin's pitiful story probably as much as I should have been.
The fight by the road puzzled me greatly too. And the "evidence" brought against him at a later date. The fight itself seemed to be described in a disjointed fashion. Then later in the book we hear that the dead man had been stabbed more than once. Martin himself describes the police report. But he doesn't try to ask for answers. Or if he did, he didn't write it down in the book? If I had been sent to prison for murdering a man who's body went missing, then turned up, but was never physically seen by anyone, I'd demand to ask for photos, fingerprints. My lawyer to see the corpse... anything. But he doesn't. Its all just too weird.
As for his treatment by the police, the prison system and the general population of Lard Yao prison, among others, that part of the book I have no doubt is as accurate as you can get, and I feel desperately sorry for Colin Martin during that hellish plight.
I love Thailand to bits,and my thai friends, but I can see why after reading this you may never want to go there.
A book that is disjointed in its construction, but thoroughly frightening in its content. For a completely differing point of view, read "The last executioner" by Chavoret Jaruboon. This book will help you see that nothing is what it seems, and that no one is completely objective with the facts, in this case about criminality and punishment in Bangkok, be it Colin Martin or Mr Jaruboon.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars One Sit Read, 17 Nov. 2008
By 
STELLA BROWN (GLOUCESTER. ENGLAND) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Welcome to Hell: One Man's Fight for Life Inside the Bangkok Hilton (Paperback)
As I started reading this book,lying in my warm, clean and comfortable bed it was difficult to imagine the filth, inhumanity and degradation of life in a Thai prison.
Thanks to the brilliance of the author I was soon transported to the endless noise and smells of the streets of Bangkok. From there I was taken to Thai villages before visiting police stations and eventually a fetid jail.
This journey through eight years of the authors life took me six hours to read....I was captivated by the events and also the way they were told.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Innocent...? I am not so sure....., 16 Aug. 2011
By 
A. Bartholomew "AB" (England) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Welcome to Hell: One Man's Fight for Life Inside the Bangkok Hilton (Paperback)
I have read a few of these books so was expecting the same sort of story - Thai corruption, dirty prisons etc...But what I found when I read this book was that I couldn't actually believe that he was innocent. How can he go from a 'normal' business man with a family, to a complete thug who headbutts people, then attacks prisoners. I do not believe his account of the fight that happend which ended up with the bodyguard dead. It's all to shaky...Would O'Conner really of just left without his bodyguard and not tried to ring him to see where he was, if Colin is correct in stating that they thought he ran away...I can not believe a body guard would run away after a few punches from Colin? Colin states that his wifes brothers were in the car but all asleep...Whilst he was fighting the bodyguard O'Conner could of run off...Why didn't he? O'Conner could of jumped in and started attacking Colin also, seens as the thai brothers were alseep and it was just Colin they had to fight. It is from this point that I couldn't believe him of his innocence....BUT reading how he was tortured for all those hours is dreadful...(if it was 5 hours, see I kinda then doubt things when I feel I am being lied to) and how the Court system is worked is horrendous. It also amazes how you can be a drug smuggler and get 20 years (Shappelles story), but you can murder someone and get 8 years.

Fair play to Colin for getting fit, and learning a sport and mostly keeping out of trouble - again this is another thing, he says at the beggining of the book that he got beaten daily...then goes on to say he was left alone apart from the odd scuffle he had with the Blue Coats....

I have no doubts in believeing his story when it comes to life inside the prison, and the hospital...I just don't believe he was innocent...
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read but???, 26 Jan. 2009
By 
M. Telford "Irish Writer" (Ireland) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Welcome to Hell: One Man's Fight for Life Inside the Bangkok Hilton (Paperback)
I enjoyed this book, the conditions that the author endured I have no doubt were awful, and he's learned many painful lessons whilst there.
There are however a few holes or hazy bits to Mr Martin's story.

Why did he remain in Thailand so long after he was swindled?
I know he says he had to hunt for the men who conned him, but three years?

Also I believe he did kill the man that he was imprisoned for, and he knew it. After-all the other conman (alias O'Connor) was able to tell the police that and lead them to the man's body.
The book also reveals the fact that the body had multiple stab wounds.
My own feeling is that the man who was murdered was getting the better of Martin, possibly to the point that Martin felt his own life was endangered. But Martin stabbed him, as I see it anyway.
There's also the possibility that his Thai wife's four brothers were involved in the man's death, but I think that less likely.

It also seemed according to the author that his wife left him almost immediately after he was swindled, long before his arrest. I can't help but wonder if this is as Martin tells it.

Also why did he not go back home after he was swindled, at any time during the three years before his arrest?
He still had children even if his wife had left him.
He seemed to settle and marry again in Thailand remarkably quickly for a man who claims his sole interest was finding the men who conned him.

Having been to Asia myself, I do understand their culture where money is king, and life is remarkably cheap.

Having read "Warren Fellow's" book on his imprisonment, conditions are subhuman there and much more difficult for westerners to adapt to than Asians.

The book reads well and the story is interesting, if not totally accurate.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A superbly written, heartbreaking story., 8 April 2010
By 
Adam Kitchen "Adam Kitchen" (Liverpool) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Welcome to Hell: One Man's Fight for Life Inside the Bangkok Hilton (Paperback)
I'll try to keep my conclusion on this book fairly brief as others have raised some quite valid and interesting points of discussion already.

Yes, this is from one man's perspective. But it's a riveting story of revenge and how it can backfire against you, especially in a corrupt country where the legal system is quite, well, horrifying to say the least. There's certainly many moral lessons to be learnt in this book but I have to pay tribute to Colin Martin as somebody who remained incredibly dignified, resiliant, stable and inspirational. After being in a very serious, terrifying situation in Thailand last August myself, I found myself deeply emphasising with the author, and know first hand myself of the terrifying consequences a man can face in the midst of this horrendously corrupt, demoralising system of abuse and torture. To come through the other side in the face of such advertisity, is an inspiring story of the strength of the human spirit.
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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars The Whole Story???, 6 Jan. 2006
By 
Mrs. Maxine C. Brooksbank "Maxine" (Bookham, Surrey United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Welcome to Hell: One Man's Fight for Life Inside the Bangkok Hilton (Paperback)
I bought this book whilst on vacation in Thailand, and found it to be an engaging, lightweight holiday read, but was left feeling that only a part of the story had been told. Martin was without doubt the victim of a major, complex fraud and found the police less than helpful at best. There was a very strong sense however that he underplayed the vigor with which he carried out his own inquiries, both with and without the assistance of four of his Thai brothers-in-law.

That he head-butted Hayes in a bar without any physical provocation demonstrates a propensity for violence. The book acknowledges that the body of Holdsworth had suffered several stab wounds; but makes no effort to discuss this in spite of the fact that during the course of their fight, Holdsworth injured Martin with a knife. Martin's account of the circumstances both during and after the fight is curious at best, and the book assumes that the reader will accept it on face value.

Interestingly Martin emerged as something of a "hardman" whilst in prison, which no doubt assisted him to survive the experience. Is this a veneer that one could assume, were it totally out of character? Probably not.

Martin's assertion that "foreigners" were all at risk of being the victim of the thoroughly rotten, corrupt and highly manipulative tourist police is not consistent with the experience of millions of people who visit Thailand each year. It woud be a very difficult secret to keep, even on a minor scale, it was as if by comprehensively trashing the entire Thai criminal-justice system he could in some way justify and explain his own position.

Martin's experience has no doubt been traumatic and damaging, and his desire to protect his young children from the horrific details laudable. This may have been easier to achieve however, had he not published this book less than a month after his release from custody. An entertaining read, but left many questions unanswered. Make up your own mind!
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15 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Land of Smiles or Trials?, 14 Feb. 2006
By 
Dutchie (Frittenden, Kent United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Welcome to Hell: One Man's Fight for Life Inside the Bangkok Hilton (Paperback)
This book is a bit of a belter, I had previously read The Damage Done, at least you could say Warren Fellows deserved to be there. This book highlights the sort of trouble you can end up in when overseas, it is both well written and hard to stop reading. I would argue that Thailand is in fact a wonderful country and the people can in most cases be trusted, the legal system is a real problem though.
Read this book it has something for everyone and is more than just another prison nightmare.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing, 8 Jan. 2012
This review is from: Welcome to Hell: One Man's Fight for Life Inside the Bangkok Hilton (Paperback)
After reading The Damage Done by Warren Fellows (I recommend this highly if you're looking for books about prison life and corruption) I was excited about downloading this book. However, I was extremely disappointed. Firstly, the actual story of how he got sent to prison takes up about 45% of the book and is very detailed, but not what I wanted to read about. His story also leaves you wondering exactly how innocent he is. After all, he spent 3 years obsessing over the men who scammed his business, visiting the bars and restaurants until he found one of them. Scary.

The second problem with the book is that, of the remaining 55%, perhaps two thirds of this taken up by the court process. I understand that it's important to see what happened in the courts to be able to see the corruption involved but it feels like an awful lot of it is "They took me to court again... my lawyer was bad...12 weeks later, I went to court again.... my lawyer was bad....". Details about prison life are few and far between. He doesn't mention friendships formed, how he got through every day life. I think when writing this book he wanted to expose the corruption of the law and courts rather than the experience of prison life.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Total rubbish, 18 Aug. 2013
This review is from: Welcome to Hell: One Man's Fight for Life Inside the Bangkok Hilton (Paperback)
This is possibly the worst book i have ever read. The author, in his long winded and self pitying rants about the evils of the Thai judicial system, contradicts himself in almost every statement he makes. Reading his description of Bangkok, one wonders if he was ever actually there. His account of torture at the hands of the steriotypically evil, sadistic and calculating police (who, naturally, admire him for his strength, as yer do) is as unconvincing as his steriotypically greedy Thai wife who runs off with his bail, "never to be seen again" (except she's back a few pages later).

The "fight for life in a Thai prison" is more of a string of sob stories of dishonest lawyers, interspersed with boasting about how the author could have died if he wasnt so big and tough. Barely any of it is convincing, and it reads like a story you might hear from some old fat bugger in a pub. Save your money, save your time, and if you really want to get a kick from reading about somebody suffering i can recommend The Damage Done. Its still mostly bollocks, but at least W.F. keeps a certain dignity.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Not for the faint hearted, 17 Feb. 2011
By 
Unabryn "Una" (Herefordshire, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Welcome to Hell: One Man's Fight for Life Inside the Bangkok Hilton (Paperback)
Before reading this book I had read Schappelle Corby's book and also that of Warren Fellowes who both gave accounts of their time in Thai jails. I was engrossed in both books although the treatment and conditions they endured was dreadful. However, I actually felt fear and pain reading this book by Colin Martin, almost like I was suffering with him. In fact there are parts of the book where I could only read two pages at a time, so horrific was his treatment by the prison commandos. Humiliation, degradation, starvation, filthy conditions, beatings and torture - you name it, Colin suffered it. I always wanted to visit Thailand, supposedly the land of smiles, but after reading Colin's book there is no way I would set foot in the country with corruption by cops rife. It seems they are not interested whether you are guilty or not, if you can't pay your way out with a huge amount of money, then you suffer your fate at their hands. How any human being can enjoy the torture and suffering of another is beyond me. The back of the book states it is not for the faint hearted. I couldn't agree more.
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