on 1 January 2007
This book describes the strength of one man's determination to overcome the brutality of Japanese imprisonment and the seemingly never-ending nature of captivity under the Rising Sun. Brian Best's Secret Letters from the Railway are a heartening tale of a man - Charles Steel - whose will to live was sustained by a fierce internal discipline and his love for his new wife. The book is beautifully written, with copious quotations from Charles Steel's letters to his wife, which came to light only after his death. A pre-war territorial gunner, Steel survived the debacle of Dunkirk, but was unlucky enough to go into the bag following the fall of Singapore in February 1942. Writing letters that he knew would never be sent whilst he remained in Japanese captivity, Steel turned his prescient eye on all that took place around him. The result is a surprisingly positive record of a trial that many captives failed to survive. His love for Louise was a dominant theme in his struggle to survive and to conquer the desperate circumstances of Japanese slavery. This is a book that is very definitely worth reading and adding to one's library.