A must read,
This review is from: Surviving a Japanese Internment Camp: Life and Liberation at Santo Tomás, Manila, in World War II (Paperback)
I'm no historian, but I'm fascinated by personal experiences of people during the wars.
What's great about Wilkinson's account is that it's personal - told through his eyes as a young boy (unnusual for an autobiography) when he was taken prisoner - yet not another boring history book.
He zooms in on individuals and groups (including the japanese soldiers - of whom his descriptions are humorous, terrifying & endeering); and deals with subjects which have tended to be overlooked (too taboo? too trivial?) such as sex in shanties: I tried to imagine the lack of privacy & this chapter really illustrates it.
He manages, with his refreshingly simple and relaxed writing style, to make microscopic detail - scavenging for a china cup, where radios were smuggled, nighties used to make shirts - fascinating. Read this book and you'll feel you're experiencing the camp, the heat, the lack of space, the routine.
But - perhaps most important - he doesn't seem to write with a subsequently acquired bias towards any particular group (I think of my father, who fought on destroyers in the Pacific, whose bitterness towards the japanese peppered his descriptions of them whilst the Germans & French - many of whom became his good friends after the war - were forgiven).
Overall a balanced, fun, gripping, insight into life in the camp; the war from a child's perspective; and human nature - the bad & the good. A must read.