Richard Kandler's book is largely sourced from recorded tapes of (Reuben Kandler) his late father giving testimony of his wartime experiences. This gives the story a close & personal feel throughout and enables the author to furnish the tale with compelling and accurate detail. The personal risk taken by -and heroism - of Reuben Kandler becomes more apparent as the story unfolds as does the growing tension and danger of the situation. This version of the experiences of Far East Prisoners of War must rank as one of the most authentic, coming as it does from a protagonist who was not only at the heart of the action at the time but one who consequently immersed himself in ensuring the success of the body set up to look after survivors. Reuben Kandler's story is packed with quirks of fate, bravery, stoicism, spirituality and comradeship. Each page brings a heart stopping description of the dire situation matched with a reminder of the triumph of the human spirit. One can't but help asking oneself at each step "How did they cope?". This wonderful story, cleverly told, helps us to understand.
Disturbing and horrifying but everyone should read this and re-assess any 'problems' in their own lives.
I sincerely hope that Amazon pay their UK tax on the profits made on this sale such that, together, we ensure the longevity of the society and freedoms that so many, through their selfless courage and terrible suffering, fought so valiantly to defend.
I purchased this book to research Changi prisoner camp in the hope of finding the name of a late friend who passed away in 2005 and it is only very recently that I and his daughters discovered that he was a p.o.w.in japanese hands and was at Changi. I had hoped that the book would list ALL the prisoners but it does not do so,and was disappointed in that respect, but nevertheless made excellent reading.
The Prisoner List A True Story of Defeat, Captivity and Salvation in the Far East 1941-45
The British surrender of Singapore in 1942 to the Japanese was followed by over three years of brutal and degrading captivity for thousands of prisoners-of-war, which many did not survive.
Films such as `The Bridge On the River Kwai' and `A Town Like Alice', based on the subject of Japanese prisoner of war camps, are great cinematic entertainment but offer a somewhat sanitized view of life in these camps. The reality was far worse, and `The Prisoner List' by Richard Kandler paints a picture of harsh reality, and makes uncomfortable yet compelling reading.
Richard Kandler, from London, writes about the wartime experiences of his father, Reuben, whose horrendous years of captivity included working on the docks in Indo-China (now Vietnam) and the infamous Burma railway. Some years ago the author tape recorded a series of conversations with his now late father, which forms the basis of this biographical account.
Reuben (referred to throughout the narrative as Ben) compiled a secret list of names of POWs and their fates, hence the book's title, `The Prisoner List'. It was hidden from his captors as discovery would have led to torture and death. It was a list of the first thousand Allied prisoners taken following the fall of Singapore - not just their names, but what had happened to them since: executions following failed escape attempts, deaths from tropical diseases, from starvation, the deliberate withholding of medical supplies, from the daily beatings of sick men on the railway, and deaths at sea on "hell ships" bound for Japan. As camp searches intensified, he went to increasingly extreme lengths to hide the list - and other forbidden items - from the guards and from the dreaded Kempetai, the Japanese Gestapo, and came dangerously close to being found out.
`The Prisoner List' is an engrossing read, written in a lucid and engaging style, and a reminder of man's inhumanity to man within the madness of war. It also made me glad that I wasn't there. Highly recommended.
The Prisoner List is a moving biography of the author's father's experiences during the second world war in occupied Singapore and Burma.
The book is written in an elegant and sensitive style and you can hear the father's voice shining through the narrative.
This book is a must read as it describes a side of the war which is rarely touched upon elsewhere. I was especially touched by the relationships which developed between the characters.
It is hard to believe the horror of the conditions in the prisoner of war camps, but the author gives descriptions without emotion and does not show any bitterness in his narrative. It is a book which you continue to think about for weeks after finishing.
This book was an unexpected treasure. It transported me to a time and place that I knew next-to-nothing about and drew me into the narrative effortlessly. Mr. Kandler set the stage clearly and concisely by weaving the historical context into the personal experience of his own father. At times I could feel his dad sitting in the chair across from me, relating the events himself. I was hooked. I picked the book up on a Friday evening and finished it by Saturday morning. Surprisingly, I found myself actually crying at a couple of specific instances where the brutality and senselessness of what so many were forced to endure was being described. The Prisoners List is well worth the read. I came away moved, educated and even more appreciated of what so many sacrificed for our freedom today.
If you read one factual book about allied prisoners of war in SE Asia during WW2, read this one. It is brilliantly constructed around the harrowing true story of one man's experience as one of the first group of prisoners to be shipped out of Singapore to work as a slave for the Japanese war effort. His group was taken firstly to Saigon, and then on to the Death Railway in Thailand during the notoriously brutal Speedo period. It is the only book I have seen about POWs in Indo-China and about the reaction of the Vichy French to their presence there. The author manages to weave the entire history of the conflict in SE Asia around this personal story in a way which no other book does. We read about the fall of Singapore, the Japanese occupation of the region, the reaction back at home to those events, the defeat of the Japanese by allied forces, the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki and the aftermath of the war, all within the context of the story of the author's father (Ben) and his fellow prisoners. Ben's astonishing bravery and character shine through the pages- he compiled a list of prisoners who left Singapore with him and maintained and updated that list, risking torture and execution so that a record would remain of the crimes that had been committed. He was also brave enough to type up a factual and honest account of the suffering men had encountered when asked to provide some propaganda to counter accusations of ill-treatment. That account is reproduced at the back of the book and is chilling to read. He also had the courage to speak about the events decades later, and to be videotaped doing so. The details of his experience recorded in this book are a permanent record of what happened, and a source of information to those, like me, who have an interest in knowing the truth.
I have just finished reading 'The Prisoner List'. What an amazing book, I couldn't put it down and was hooked from the first page. Definitely the best book I have read for a long time. Richard, the author really brought his Fathers story to life in an extremely moving narrative.
Allrighters Best Non Fiction Book of the year 2014
Cover 3/5 Maybe the back cover drawing ought to have been on the front.
The narrative describing Ben's life and the events in Malaya supported by his quotations works really well for me as reader.
I am finding this book much more informative and educational than others on the same subject I have read recently and hence the five star rating.
Again as previous books about the Burma Railway I am finding it difficult to find words to overcome the numbing feeling from what is being described.
I read on ...
Completed 26 2 14
This is the fifth book I have read recently about the fate of prisoners of the Japanese in the far east in WW2 and by far the most informative about the background and events.
Well done Richard Kandler. You have to me achieved your expressed aim in writing the book and contributed to these events not being forgotten because of issues of distance, loss of Empire and the sheer horror of what went on.
Front runner for Allrighters non Fiction book of 2014 - Confirmed February 2015
this book is just another book that can be read and make more understanding what the men of the forgotten army did in the cause of the freedom of future generations.this is also one written from the view point of a survivor of this terrible part of the war.it makes you realise how a lot of the "problems" we think we have are nothing compared to the daily lives of these mens as prisoners but also their little ways of survival if possible by any means possible