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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A brave, dogged Irish doctor survives Japanese brutality, shipwreck and imprisonment, 10 July 2007
By 
Tony Allwright (Co Dublin Ireland) - See all my reviews
This review is from: A Doctor's War (Paperback)
A stirring, compelling wartime memoir of an RAF volunteer doctor from Cork (in Ireland), who sees action in France, Dunkirk, Malaysia and Japan.

As a prisoner of war for several years, he bravely and doggedly faces a Japanese diet of scorn, deprivation and brutality, whilst seeking opportunities to practice his profession for the benefit of his fellow-captives.

He is torpedoed, his ship sunk, is rescued by the Japanese, leaps overboard again to escape a beating, is rescued again and is very nearly thrown back into the sea for a third time.

He ends up in Nagasaki where he survives the atomic bomb and lives to welcome and be rescued by the Americans in 1945.

Along the road, he witnesses incredible acts of courage and patriotic self-sacrifice, as well as understandable savagery, on the part of his fellow prisoners.

Yet his reflections contain little of rancour for his Japanese captors who treated him and his colleagues so abominably.

A lasting impression is the meticulous planning that went into post-invasion Japan - in stark contrast to post-invasion Iraq.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An honest account of survival, 5 Dec 2011
I read this book because I have fond memories of working with Doctor Aidan MacCarthy in the late 70s in London - he was in his 80s then, an Air Comodore Retired. He was a lovely man who was cheeky, funny and full of stories, which he dictated to the young, WRAF typist in preparation for publishing. It is a most moving account of how he survived the horrors of WW2 with some humour along the way and heroic deeds, which he never boasted about. My memories of him will stay with me always and I thank him and all those other people who suffered and died to allow me to live the life I have today. What a shame we never learn from war. It still goes on and still people suffer. I recommend this book wholeheartily and hope you enjoy it as much as I did - and still do.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Superb!, 18 April 2006
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This review is from: A Doctor's War (Paperback)
I was glad to see this book reissued as it was getting very tricky indeed to track down an older copy. I'm very fond of this new edition though - the new cover artwork brings a breath of fresh air to this astounding book.

A gripping read from start to finish - one simply cannot comprehend what Aidan MacCarthy went through. The account ranges from lighthearted to, at times horrific and even disturbing! For anyone who has read this - 'maggots' spring to mind! Ghastly!

Overall this is a must-have and I'm chuffed it's now so easily available again!
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5.0 out of 5 stars Wow, 12 Nov 2011
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This review is from: A Doctor's War (Paperback)
A stunningly graphic account of a living hell. I was a child after the war, so knew of those whom my mother referred to as "guests of the emperor". Yet this has opened my mind further. Even having worked with a veteran who had been one of the few to survive the horrors of the Burma railway, I have learned even more of the depravities to which their captors had sunk.

Not that I needed reassurance, but this further strengthens my view that in giving his life, 6 months before I was born, my own father (who had volunteered to fly in Bomber Command at the age of 33) had paid a worthwhile price helping rid his generation of some great evils.

Especially in this year of significant anniversary of Remembrance Day it is important to be reminded of man's inhumanity to man & of the imperative to stop these recurring atrocities. Also it is important to remember that inner strength can prevail. What an amazing, though modest gentleman. The world is the poorer without him. I'm sad that I did not know of him while there was still time to praise him directly. This book should join a list of required reading for each succeeding generation. You will not enjoy reading this work, but you will be the richer for it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Uplifting, 25 Sep 2011
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This review is from: A Doctor's War (Paperback)
This is an amazing story of human survival against all the odds. The unimaginable horrors Aiden MacCarthy endured as a Japanese prisoner of war and his survival is a must read story. That he went on to marry and have two daughters in a happy family life is astonishing. This is a can't put down read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellant read, 27 Jun 2010
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I bought this book for my Father who thoroughly enjoyed it. He was sorry to finish it, and wondered why he'd never come across the book before. He also hopes that it becomes more widely read by every age group. Highly recommended.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful story, 12 Feb 2010
By 
Dr. Brendan Hogan (Australia) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: A Doctor's War (Paperback)
This is the story of the trials and tribulations of an RAF Medical Officer during World War 2. It is a moving account of his experiences told in a witty and down-to- earth way. The book is practically addictive, as once begun it is difficult to put it down without finishing it completely.
In April 1964 I had the privilege as a young Medical Officer to be advised by, and train under Group captain Mac Carthy (as he was then) at RAF Freckleton, Lancashire. He was thoughtful and very kind to me, and was a shining example of what a Royal Air Force Medical Officer should be. It was only in January 2010 that I discovered that he had written this book, a copy of which I immediately obtained. It is a treasured possession.
The author tells a tale of hardship,imprisonment,hardship,torture,fortitude and valour. Doctor Aidan Mac Carthy came out of all this without any rancour or animosity towards the Japanese people. How anyone could come through all that he experienced and still remain normal, is a complete mystery, bur I can vouch for the fact that he was very normal. This is a very readable and enjoyable book.
Dr. Brendan Hogan,
Melbourne, Australia
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Why wasn't he more angry?, 5 Nov 2006
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This review is from: A Doctor's War (Paperback)
Perhaps the passage of time had mellowed the author or he had been influenced by subsequent revisionism (over 30 years had lapsed between the events he writes about and the original edition being published); perhaps his Christian faith or instinct for mental health wouldn't let him bear grudges; perhaps his style just happens to be muted - whatever the reason, I can't understand how restrained this memoir is. My lack of comprehension came after finishing it - during the reading I found it an easy; frequently amusing; educational and compelling book but the aftertaste, attributable to his restraint more than his suffering, is that it is a very sad book. Maybe that points to a very skillful recounting of the doctor's story (a sort of double-bluff).

The deprivation, exploitation, casual (as well as systematic) sadism and brutality of the Japanese is not excused by the explanation that, traditionally, their view of surrender is that it renders contemptible anyone (whether service personnel or civilian) connected with a capitulating opponent. Aidan MacCarthy might have been satisfied but for me it's just not good enough, I'm afraid. I continue to be more angry and outraged on his behalf, and that of other POWs of the Japanese, than he seemed to be himself.

This slim volume offers many oblique insights into WWII (particularly how disorganised the British, and how well-meaning but unhelpful the Americans, were) and I'm very glad that it was put my way.
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A Doctor's War
A Doctor's War by Aidan MacCarthy (Paperback - 28 April 2006)
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