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4.5 out of 5 stars103
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on 27 January 2012
I have read many books about the horrors of imprisonment at the hands of the Japanese during WW2, about their fanaticial bravery, and also about the atrocities they committed agains occupied peoples. This was the first book to look at the Japanese with an alternate view - they were brave people too! Harrision went throught hell as a POW (literally through 'hell-fire pass') and saw horrendous things. Yet despite this he shows a real understanding of his captors and how to handle them. His empathy with the civil population in Japan is amazing, given his experiences.

I also like the way he gives recogniotion to the brave Chinese communists who helped him in Malaya during WW2, as he and his comrades tried to evade capture by the Japanese. As a result, when the Malayan Emergency kicked off in 1948, he did not feel comfortable doing anything to their disadvantage.

Don't get me wrong, I am no supporter of the 'Knights of Bushido' or of any Communist insurgency, yet I really like the humanity in Harrison's writing, and the way that he manages to see good in people who are oppressing him. May Harrision, and all the comrades he names in his book, never be forgotten!
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on 22 May 2011
I've read many a book in this category & regardless of price it wouldn't be out of place against its dearer counterparts. This is a great story of survival & the indomitable spirit of man. Recommended.
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on 24 December 2011
Got this from the kindle store as it was so cheap and uncovered an absolutely excellent little book. It's an excellent account of the authors time in WWII but it's even better as an example of how one man's spirit can get through some awful experiences and come away strengthened by them and with the ability to forgive his attackers. Can't recommend enough.
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on 12 September 2011
Enjoyed this. I have a fascination of war POW stories. Sad, poignant, shocking and very addictive read. Found it very hard to put down.
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on 5 December 2011
This book is by Guy Harrison on his father's experience as an ANZAC soldier in the Malay campaign, as a prisoner of war of the Imperial Army of Japan (IAJ) and as one of the first allied troops to set foot in Hiroshima after the dropping of the atomic bomb. As such it is a classic and vivid portrayal of how much the human spirit can put up with. Despite starvation, diseases, beatings, untold brutality and being involved in heavy combat, Kenneth Harrison survives against the odds to witness the capitulation of Japan and walk through the devastated city of Hiroshima.

As the title suggests Harrison Snr pays ample tribute to the bravery of the Japanese throughout the entire book and there is justification in his viewpoint as history does show that the IAJ was a highly effective military force and it's soldiers were incredibly brave. A down side to this effectiveness is that they were also indoctrinated and trained to believe that the enemy, especially after surrender, was nothing but a 'curr'. This book describes amply and in detail how such 'currs' were treated as they were abused and killed in their thousands!

The main content of the book however outlines the incredible journey of Harrison Snr. His long journey starts as a member of an anti tank crew in the Malay campaign engaged in several heavy engagements. However after the overwhelming victory of the Japanese Harrison Snr spends several months avoiding capture in the jungle. After eventually being captured his journey takes him to work on the famed death railway in Thailand where the work conditions and brutality of the IAJ were responsible for the deaths of thousands of POW's, one POW for every seventeen feet of railway line. After the completion of the railway Harrison sails to Japan on an epic sea voyage in a rusty old cargo vessel where he eventually arrives to see out the rest of the war as a dock worker and miner, work that was again fraught with danger. The finale of this epic journey is that Harrison was there at the end of the war and describes the overwhelming joy of being set free and then the despair of walking through a nuclear holocaust.

The above is but a brief summation of an incredible four and a half year journey that is told with panache, humour and style. Even as an ex soldier who served in the Falklands war, I cannot really put into words how touched I was by this story. My heart really went out to Harrison Snr and his fellow POW's as I followed their incredible journey in written prose. It is simply a fantastic story and that such men were able to survive the most obtuse of living conditions and brutal treatment is simply amazing. One must never forget the pain and suffering such men went through as POW's of the IAJ but more so one must never EVER forget those who paid the ultimate price.

Forget the brave Japanese, this is a brilliant read about brave Australian and other allied soldiers who defied the odds and cheated the 'old man with the scythe'. An 86p Kindle buy but a priceless read!
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TOP 500 REVIEWERon 19 February 2013
Kenneth Harrison - the author of this autobiography spanning four years of first fighting the Japanese and then being a POW - has done an excellent job of chronicling the period, the hardships, and the life as a Japanese POW.

As an Australian anti tank gunner, Harrison participated in some of the Malay battles, and managed to evade capture after the fall of Singapore for several months, before having been shot and surrendering with his team. After early stints in POW camps (including Changi, which apparently turned out to be one of the best ones), he helped build up a railway line in Siam, worked in a wharf in Nagasaki and finally ended up a coal miner in the middle of Japan.

Going full circle, from the nervous anticipation of the first battle, to walking through the aftermath of the atom bombs being dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, you get a nuanced picture of the Japanese, as both opponents, captors, and finally a vanquished nation.

He does little to diminish / mask the brutality suffered at the hands of the Japanese but does with time learn to understand them better, both their good and bad sides, and the vast cultural gap that led to many of the horrible behaviours they exhibited during the war. At the same time they turned out to be very gracious losers after surrender.

The book reads a bit like a four year version of Solzhenitsyn's One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich (Penguin Modern Classics) - certainly not a literary masterpiece like the Russian novel - but similar in both outlook and messages, if focused on a completely different geographical / cultural sphere.

Do not let the low price fool you - this is certainly an excellent book and one well worth reading, whether you are primarily interested in POW stories or not (anyone interested in history, WW2, etc. will profit), if for nothing else, for the authors unlimited humanity and his journey towards maturity during the period.
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on 24 January 2012
I was attracted to this book partly because of my own father's experience fighting the Japanese on the front line, albeit in Burma. It is a remarkable book and I have nothing but admiration for such brave people as Harrison Snr and his comrades who surely went through a living hell. What is also admirable is his attitude towards his captors and the Japanese in general. It is to his great credit that he held no grudge, I can't imagine how difficult that must be. He really is an inspiration, he set aside his personal experiences and could view the nation objectively, such people are rare and should be treasured. A word on the kindle edition. I can't criticise too much because it is so cheap but the photographs are poor and difficult to see and also interrupt the text often mid sentence. However, that is a minor consideration and doesn't detract from what is a "must read".
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on 7 April 2011
This guy went through Hell at the hands of the "Brave Japanese." Only his youth and strength kept him alive. he says himself about how lucky he was, I personally think the guy is way too modest. In my eyes he's a HERO. "Good onya cobber"
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on 14 February 2012
ken is truely a hero a amazing guy. I would be proud to have met Ken. In one way I could understand his forgiveness to his captors, for the true cruelty they dished out to him and others. In another way I couldn't understand why he didn't want complete revenge on the Japanese. But that's why Ken is a better man than must. If the world had more people like Ken the world would be a better place. God bless you Ken Harrison
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on 20 June 2011
What an enjoyable and eye-opening read. I thoroughly recommend this book to all readers of eye-witness account books.Worht every penny and more.
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