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Surviving The Sword: Prisoners of the Japanese 1942-45 Paperback – 2 Feb 2006

4.7 out of 5 stars 29 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 512 pages
  • Publisher: Abacus; New Ed edition (2 Feb. 2006)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0349119376
  • ISBN-13: 978-0349119373
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 3.4 x 19.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (29 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 216,843 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Review

Brian MacArthur has made a significant contribution to the literature of the war in the Far East, which is still much less known to us than the matching struggle in Europe (SUNDAY TELEGRAPH)

MacArthur does justice to these men. He lays bare the horrors, so awful that, reading of them, one is amazed that there were any survivors. But he also pays tribute to the courage the vast majority showed in their determination not to die, and especially (Allan Massie, TIMES)

Commendably, in this first essay into military history, he has allowed the voices of these veterans of the Far East Prisoners of War Association to speak to us directly across the 60-year void; they echo from the mouth of a tropical hell with an awful eloquence . . . a deeply moving read (John Crossland, SUNDAY TIMES)

Brian MacArthur's compelling story of the extraordinary suffering of British, Australian, Dutch and American prisoners of the Japanese provides excruciating detail . . . the capacity of men to inflict misery on each other is almost balanced by their abil (TLS)

Book Description

* Magisterial history of the Japanese prisoner-of-war experience, a gut-wrenching narrative that resonates to this day.

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
As my grandfather worked on the Thailand-Burma railway, I was keen to read this book to get an understanding of those who experienced captivity under the Japanese. The book highlights the complete disregard for human life and evokes completely different images of the romanticised, Hollywood images of European POW's in Colditz, The Great Escape etc etc. Although the book illustrates the suffering experienced by many, it also shows how the smallest graces in life can galvanise morale and band of brothers spirit against the greatest of odds. The book itself, is well structured, with well-placed interludes to give more rounded information on important characters/situations pertinent to Far Eastern POW's (FEPOWS). All in all, this adds further understanding to a marginalised issue of the 2nd World War.
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Format: Paperback
While nearly everyone has heard of the Escapes in the European theatre during WW 2,The Colditz Story, The Great Escape etc. very few have heard of the FEPOW's. (Far East POW's). Mr Mc Arthur has described the experiences of these forgotten troops after the fall of Singapore at the hands of The Imperial Japanese Army. The conditions that these troops were imprisioned and there treatment during their captivity was surely the worst of the entire conflict. Mr Mc Arthur has included diaries and interviews from the troops themselves and they make harrowing reading. Some of these diaries recorded on toilet paper were buried with there comrades and retrieved after liberation to describe the pure hell of their imprisionment. A particullary gruelling chapter describes the building of the famous railway through Burma where men reduced to skeltons were forced to build the railway through terrain where no one had trod since time began. The rations these men had to endure along with the constant companionship of mosquitoes, flies, rats and diseases such as Cholera, Beri-Beri, and Typhoid made for a nightmare of there imprisionment. If you have any interest in the Far East campaign during WW 2 this book is for you.
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Format: Paperback
This is the only book I have had to purchase three times due to the amount of people who have read it!
On a recent diving holiday, I had left "Surviving The Sword" on a communal table whilst I was on a dive boat.When I got back in the evening, five people had been sampling the book and over the next few days,they couldn't wait for me to finish it, so that they could borrow it!

It is an account of the suffering and triumphs of the prisoners of the Japanese in WW2.Reading about the conditions of starvation and beatings they had to endure, it is amazing any-one came back.The book also gives vivid accounts of the dedication and bravery of various officers and doctors that kept several thousand men alive in those terrible times.

The spirit and resourcefulness of the Australian, British and Dutch prisoners is brought to life in this wonderful book.
In WW2 about 4% of German prisoners of war died.27% of Japanese prisoners of war died.Reading Brian McArthur's book, you can see why there was a huge difference in the numbers.However, the author manages to capture the prisoners' determination to help each other, whilst struggling to survive themselves.
Buy this book, but you will have trouble keeping hold of it!
Adrian Grant
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Format: Paperback
As the 60th anniversary of VJ Day approaches, books on all aspects of the war in the Far East seem to appear on the shelves of high street book sellers. I can honestly say, I have read a great many of these in the last few months and this excellent work by Brian Mac Arthur ranks amongst the best to date.

There is no doubt that any member of the British or Allied forces who had the mis-fortune to be taken prisoner by the Japanese suffered in one way or another. Some suffered more than others. Many as we now know, did not live to tell the tale of their suffering or experiences and death was I am ashamed to say, was a merciful release from the agony and torture of their life in captivity.

The author consulted over 150 diaries of ex prisoners of war and spent an unbelievable amount of time delving into the depth of the archives to research what it was really like, in the notorious Japanese prison camps and along the many hundreds of miles of the infamous "Death Railway".

As one would expect, the subject of torture and deprivation is covered in great detail, however the reader is also treated to a fascinating insight into the inspirational way s in which the men boosted their morale - they entertained themselves with camp concerts, sporting events and education courses, however it is the most resourceful way in which they made improvised medical equipment and drugs and performed life saving surgery that I found the most remarkable.

Many readers will be shocked at what they read and once again, many will also ask the question, "how could another human being treat their fellow men like this?" Besides being an interesting read, this book with its superb black and white photographs and excellent maps on the inside covers, will provide an ideal source of reference, however it will also serve as memorial to the brave men who suffered in the cause of freedom many decades ago.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
To me, this is the most comprehensive book to date concerning the horrors of those unfortunate to fall into Japanese hands. As someone has already stated, it would be impossible to produce such horror on film. I can now appreciate the relatives of the officer in the film "The Bridge over the River Kwai" being so incensed with the complete inaccuracy of the film as well as the Officer it was supposed to portray. In real life he was one of the few officers who actually worked manually alongside his men forcing officers under his command to do so.
It was also his attention to detail that saved many prisoners lives because through his total commitment to cleanliness, it was the only Japanese Prisoner of War Camp to escape Cholora. He also encouraged his men to leave out bolts or try and use sections of rotted would in the hope that the bridge would collapse.
An amazing soldier who was much admired by ALL the prisoners under his command. A friend of mine who was taken prisoner, along with the rest of his unit as soon as they landed, actually went along to see the film. He thought is was a joke as he said that their clothes rotted very quickly and the prisoners in the film were far to fat. Another friend, whose father was lucky enough to survive, was kept in Hospital in England still being fed via a fountain pen filler until; fit enough to rejoin his wife and son.
I agree with all the other readers, and hope that many more will take time to read this very worthwhile book to try and understand what actually did happen and the thousands of soldiers who died in agony from horrific diseases.
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