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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Survivor of Japanese Hell, 25 May 2013
This review is from: Survivor on the River Kwai: The Incredible Story of Life on the Burma Railway (Kindle Edition)
Just before WW11 the American anthropologist Ruth Benedict wrote a brilliant little book entitled: 'The Chrysanthemum and the Sword'. It is about the many facets of Japanese culture, some of them very disturbing. The latter were displayed in full measure in the atrocities committed against the Chinese and in the many barbarous acts against defenceless soldiers and POW's during the Second World War.

Unlike the atrocities committed by the Nazis, and their many supporters among the German people, those by the Japanese were carried out by soldiers in accordance with policy laid down in Tokyo by their political and military masters.

Many of these atrocities were of almost indescribable bestiality, bayoneting a tied up prisoner was a particular favourite. Attempts to explain, even excuse such sadistic acts have failed miserably. As Benedict and others have shown there is something in Japanese culture that lends itself to acts of utter barbarity.

I very much doubt if Reg Twigg who died this month just short of his 100th birthday,would have any difficulty in describing the brutality of his guards in one of the Kwai camps for POW's. In all he was incarcerated from 1942 until 1945. How he survived-over 13000 Troops from Britain, Holland and Australia didn't, plus around 80000 coolies who also died-malaria, cholera, malnutrition and, in particular, the sadistic violence of his Japanese captors is amazing. That he did was due to an indomitable spirit and sheer courage.

Prior to the war he tells us he was a fanatical cyclist and a very fine athlete.

In 1946 he was discharged from the Leicester Regiment-a very fine regiment-because some desk-bound committee found him 'no longer physically fit for service'! How insensitive can one get!

Do read this heartwarming and uplifting book. It will make you proud to be British. The Japanese however may find it deeply embarrassing.
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Showing 1-1 of 1 posts in this discussion
Initial post: 2 Oct 2014 11:49:14 BDT
Last edited by the author on 2 Oct 2014 11:50:57 BDT
G. Kelly says:
I hope Dr. Clayton does not intend to set up a "yellow peril" dichotomy. Both the Japanese and the Nazis were capable of appalling acts of depraved violence. In the case of the Nazis, this was most in evidence on the eastern front, less so on the western front where they were fighting foes they considered to be "Aryan types," and was especially the case in their savage genocidal treatment of Jews, Gypsies, and other "undesirables." For the Japanese, the treatment might have been even more immediately barbaric, as witnessed by the 'rape' of Nanking and their brutal treatment of prisoners of war, probably an expression of their Bushido-based no surrender military ethic. In any case, Dr. Clayton's comment suggests a difficult exercise in line drawing between the Japanese and the Nazis, but might also include Turkish treatment of Armenians and Greek Christians in the 1920's, Stalin's and Mao's treatment of 'enemies of the state,' and the Rwandian treatment of the Hutu minority in the 1990's, to name a few.

Of course, none of this should detract from Mr. Twigg's inspiring history.
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