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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The chasms between cultures, 18 May 2014
By 
Katharine Kirby "Kate" (HELSTON, Cornwall United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Shame and the Captives (Kindle Edition)
The Australian officers, in charge of the compounds where several different nationalities of interns are housed, have varying degrees of understanding and kindness towards their charges. For Major Suttor, it is a bargain, a balance, as his son David is prisoner of war in Changi and on the Burma railroad. News of him is sketchy so his father very much uses 'Do as you would be done by' as his approach. He has an interesting side to him, he writes a successful radio drama, along the lines of The Archers in the UK.

Alice, left stranded on an outback farm with her father in law Duncan, following the capture of her husband Neville, by Germany, feels much the same. A young Italian prisoner, Giancarlo, is delivered to help them out. An intense relationship follows, with unexpected consequences.

Shame comes in all forms. Primarily the shame of the Japanese warriors who are already as dead to their families and have little to lose, but much to gain from splendid eternity. They open out their chests for a bullet and devise various other efficient ways of achieving glory by death. The other kind of shame might be that which is felt by the unintended abuse of kindness, in Alice's case. Duncan is doing his level best to keep going and waits for the return of his on to the farm while hoping another will be as fair to him as he is being to the stranger in their midst. Alice has another agenda.

Throughout, the translator, Nevski, is a sad chorus character, an onlooker without power who can see both sides.

The tension rises towards the full moon when the Japanese plan a rebellion. Meanwhile animals must be tended, polite local society respected, rocky marriages must be nursed along, administration for the camp kept up to date. We are there with them, drawn into the drama, it all feels as real as Thomas Keneally could hope. He based his story on a similar true event.

I liked the book, but didn't love it. There are a great many folk to get to know and care about, all the while placing myself in an unusual time and area at the end of WWII. However I have learned from it and feel all such literature has a levelling, explanatory purpose which is hugely valuable to a stay at home like me!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars “He surrendered his crimes up to the gods, under whose aegis he had not extended pity”, 1 May 2014
By 
Roman Clodia (London) - See all my reviews
(TOP 100 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Shame and the Captives (Kindle Edition)
Opening a book by Thomas Keneally, we know we will be led into a complex world where humanity itself will be placed under a compassionate but unflinching eye. This fictionalised account of a historical prison breakout by over 500 Japanese POWs from a camp in New South Wales in 1944 is another example of Keneally’s expansive storytelling.

Almost documentary in its approach, this moves between the personal and the political, weaving deep back-stories with present conflicts. At its heart, is the disjunction between the Japanese prisoners and their mostly Australian captors: for the Japanese, to be captive and alive degrades their warrior status, and the breakout itself is more an attempt to die with honour than to escape.

The scenes set in the prison alternate with the home life of Alice in the nearby town, whose husband is in a German POW camp; her relationship with an Italian prisoner whose own philosophy is so markedly different from the Japanese one; and the sometimes tragic lives of the camp commanders.

Keneally writes elegantly and weaves his research seamlessly into the story he is telling so that what we have is an organic whole. He breaks that supposedly cardinal rule of novel writing – show, don’t tell – and proves that ‘telling’, in the hand of a master, works superbly.

This is such a dense and intense book that any review can only give a taste of what it offers, and each reader will find their own way into the book and take different things from it. So not a simple or necessarily an easy book, but one which is richly rewarding.

(This review is from an ARC courtesy of the publisher)
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4.0 out of 5 stars Four stars this time, 26 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: Shame and the Captives (Kindle Edition)
Having thoroughly enjoyed his previous novel - "The Daughter of Mars", and enjoyed other novels by Thomas Keneally, I didn't have to think twice about downloading "Shame and the Captives". I was fairly sure of being in for an entertaining and insightful read. And I was entertained and it was insightful.

Characters are well defined and easy to identify and there is a definite sense of a time and place about it. The story develops in a way that isn't predictable which surely can only be good (as long as you haven't read a précis of the novel by an amazon reviewer). At just under four hundred pages it isn't too long a novel and yet there is still much that fill the pages.

Regarding the prose I found that there were many words (such as: Axiomatically, Hubristic, Distrait, Hecatomb, Exegesis, Incarnadine and many others) that I would have to look up the meaning of. If the novels that I have previously read by Thomas Keneally had such prose I don't remember them so - but I stand to be corrected, and as for axiomatically - maybe I'm just thick?

Although a fictional account of a fictional POW camp - albeit influenced by a real camp and real incident at Cowra in New South Wales, it is such an absorbing story that you might find yourself forgetting that it is a work of fiction.

But for the not infrequent need to stop to look up yet another obscure word (or at least what seams obscure to me) I would be saying a definite five star read.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Engrossing story set in littloe known historical setting, 17 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: Shame and the Captives (Hardcover)
Super novel, engrossing and well developed story and characters. A map of the camp would have helped enormously. the ending is pretty inevitable. Tension between people in the camp and within the small town community is well described. Want to find out more about the whole issue of POWs in Australia in WW2...indeed about what happened to the continent of Australia in WW2 ( bombing the north coast etc.) which one knew little about before reading this. Have recommended this book to friends and giving a copy to one as a Birthday present, so can really recommend it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Thomas Keneally - a great writer, 18 May 2015
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This review is from: Shame and the Captives (Kindle Edition)
An eye opener - a glimpse into a world of which I only had the vaguest knowledge. Frightening - has given me a completely new view of the old Japanese ways and does explain why and how they treated their prisoners in WW2. Thomas Keneally must be among the greatest of writers in our time. Will now set about reading more of his work.
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4.0 out of 5 stars It is good to learn more history, 6 Nov. 2014
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This review is from: Shame and the Captives (Hardcover)
Very readable and interesting. It is good to learn more history!
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0 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars, 16 July 2014
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This review is from: Shame and the Captives (Hardcover)
Excellent
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Shame and the Captives
Shame and the Captives by Thomas Keneally
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