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To the Kwai and Back: War Drawings 1939 - 1945 Hardcover – Black & White, 6 Apr 2006

4.9 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Frequently Bought Together

  • To the Kwai and Back: War Drawings 1939 - 1945
  • +
  • Burma Railway: Original War Drawings of POW Jack Chalker
  • +
  • Railroad of Death: The Original, Classic Account of the 'River Kwai' Railway
Total price: £59.24
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Souvenir Press Ltd (6 April 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0285637452
  • ISBN-13: 978-0285637450
  • Product Dimensions: 29.2 x 2.5 x 21.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 202,351 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

"You would have a struggle to name a greater cartoonist of the 20th Century, or, indeed, of any other century. Searle forged his life's path in comedy rather than tragedy, for those who have been into the deepest, darkest abyss, the only way is up, towards the light."- Craig Brown, 'Mail on Sunday'

"This is a monumentally important book... More than just a drawn record of mainly unphotographed events. It is also a hugely moving indictment of man's inhumanity to man that not even Goya's The Disasters of War can surpass... This book should never be out of print." - Peter Brookes, 'The Times'

To the Kwai - and Back is a handsome, and moving testimony to the sacrifice involved in the tragedy of war." --'Daily Mail'



"As a young soldier, the artist Ronald Searle was imprisoned by the Japanese in conditions of the utmost horror. He never stopped drawing... his art enabled him to endure the unendurable." --'Sunday Telegraph'

"Unique... one of the finest illustrators of the past century." --Gerald Scarfe, 'The Independent'

About the Author

Ronald Searle was born in Cambridge in 1920. He served in the Second World War and was one of the few British prisoners-of-war to survive Changi prison and forced labour on Burma Railway. He delighted millions with his comic creation of St Trinians, and has been a distinguished contributor of numerous magazines around the world, from The New Yorker to Le Monde.


Customer Reviews

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Many things make this book extraordinary. Searle's amazing stamina to survive when overworked by the Japanese on the Kwai Railway, sick with jungle diseases, underfed to the point that you wonder that he could live - and yet he not only lived but kept drawing everything he saw: his fellow prisoners, his Japanese guards, the punishments, the sick, the wild animals, the railway - and always with the knowledge that such drawings were forbidden and, if caught, he might be executed. Yet this is a very encouraging story, even at times funny - as when he drew a Japanese guard asleep: the prisoners had made a deal with him that they would not escape if they let him sleep (instead of making them work). This is a book of illustrations and explanatory captions, making it highly readable. Searle tells of the (rare) Japanese officer who helped him draw, and of the way that many of his St Trinians ideas were inspired by the Kwai railway sufferings. Much more than a great cartoonist, Searle is a true artist, and his book explains how it happened.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I had seen a copy of this book before and I was reminded of it when seeing the Railwayman Film when Patti looked through the book to learn about what Eric had experienced.

Eric Lomax in his book and Ronald in this book in both the words and pictures with the grim statistics of those young men who did not return give more depth to the inscription on the Kohima war cemetary memorial.

"When you go home
Tell them of us and say,
For your tomorrow,
we gave our today."

Harold Atcherley's book Prisoner of Japan also provides detailed background of the time.

Thinking about myself and my children at their age when prisoners I find it hard to grasp how young people in their early twenties found the reserves of strength to survive when isolated from everything else in their previous lives.

Hopefully with these records in pictures and text the awful and sad events described will not be forgotten.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Beautiful collection of drawings that serves as a witness of remarkable time and place in history and
harrowing experiences during WWII. The drawings intimately convey events as they occur and portray
in individual detail the tedium, the brutality of conditions under enemy imprisonment as well as moments
of grace. Searle drily describes his experiences and gives a human face to chronology of battles.
Amazing feat of recording his experiences as serviceman routed to Singapore then taken prisoner of war.
Ronald Searle is a notable artist but these drawings also exhibit his incredible spirit under extremely
trying circumstances. He miraculously survived and these drawings survived, hidden by comrades
dying but still fighting in spirit. Sensitively drawn and touching record of an artist, a soldier, a man.
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By Joe on 12 Sept. 2011
Format: Hardcover
These drawings are simply stunning and atmospheric. They capture the story of Ronald Searle from army recruit to the prisoner of war far better than any camera could ever do, some of them are haunting. A great tribute to the POWs and an essential record to that time.
I would strongly recommend this book.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Exquisite agony. The forms, the shapes of hurt. Worries about being of a generation that has known nothing like this. Hopes that we never shall. Stories with the pictures show how infernal things were. Painful, but wonderful draftsmanship to the very last ebb of life.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book should be shown in every school in the country, this shows mans inhumanity to man, unfortunately Ronald Searle is no longer with us, and I wish I could have read this book while he was alive. If you can get a copy, get one.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
This book, along with several others, was used by me for my dissertation on the motivation of prisoners of war to produce art under difficult conditions. It would be arrogant of me to criticize such a work, suffice to say that it is at times light-hearted, but never loses its impact and is well worth reading, if only to remind us all of the suffering endured by so many in times of war.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
The recent passing of Ronald Searle gives this book of his war drawings special standing. Known across the world subsequently for his innovative and lively cartoon style, the pen drawings in this book, completed while a young prisoner and hidden from the Japanese under the severest conditions, are a permanent testament to his drawing skill and acute observation, and are valued now as an important historical record by a wider audience.
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