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3.7 out of 5 stars
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on 25 December 2011
This is a short book by an Indian Far East Prisoner of War (FEPOW), and that alone makes it very unusual. There must be dozens of books by and about European FEPOWs and this book makes it clear that the Indians had just as terrible a time, thus rather debunking the prevalent theory that the Japanese treated the Europeans so badly as a way of debasing the former colonial masters. I think I would have found it shocking had I not read so many other FEPOW stories: the hunger and starvation, the malaria, the ulcers, the forced labour, the beatings. But, as with many memoirs of the Japanese occupation, it makes the point that some of the Japanese were decent and humane.

It also gives an alternative view on the formation of the Indian National Army (INA), by a man who appears to have no political axe to grind: by John Baptist Crasta's account, coercion was used. I don't think there's any doubt that genuine Indian nationalists joined the INA, but clearly not everyone entered it in such a spirit.

John Crasta's section of the book reads as if it was written quickly (not badly, not at all: just quickly) by a man setting down the essence of his experiences as a means of catharsis. It gives a chronological account of events; the analysis has to wait for the contribution by Richard, his son. Richard also injects a gentle note of humour here and there.

I think I had two questions which the book didn't answer: firstly, what sort of impact John Crasta's incarceration had on his personality and secondly, why he didn't join the INA. Was it out of loyalty to the British Empire, or was it something more personal, a feeling that he had made a promise and should stick by it?

This book is a quick and worthwhile read for anyone interested in the wider FEPOW story, and adds another first-hand voice telling a painful story of World War II.
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on 2 November 2013
Loved this book, intrigued by a rare insight of an Indian WW2 soldiers experience I bought this without reading much of the preview. The Japanese were a very cruel enemy, even to the Asians and Indians they claimed to be liberating and he tells a sad and terrifying account of their actions. The subject didn't publish the book (his son did) I think due to his humble personality but that just makes his story even more inspiring. Very moving read.
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on 14 June 2013
Any memoir of an old soldier has its value, but this is a series of notes that might have formed a more coherent work if the son of the author had chosen to work those notes into something more readable instead of reproducing them verbatim. There are some excellent records of WW2 written by amateurs, but sadly, this cannot be included as one of them
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on 21 August 2012
This is a very worthwhile little book. The story of the Japanese advance into Malaya, written by an articulate Indian Christian soldier, is interesting, as is his description of captivity and employment on Japanese-occupied tropical islands. But the most interesting aspect of all is the describing of how the Japanese-sponsored Indian National Army (INA) initially recruited personnel from amongst Indian Army prisoners of war (POWs) in Singapore. If you read through the notes by the author's son at the end of the book you also realise the extent to which post-Independence Indian politicians and some of their senior military officers became locked into a position whereby they could not criticise the INA; nor could they let themselves applaud the activities of those Indian POWs who resisted INA recruitment efforts, as political correctness required that no public mention be made of Japanese contempt for India and Indians.
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on 24 November 2013
Its more than a book on its title, its about the author, his father and circumstances.

Its a nice read but limited in content and gets a twee in places.
Not sure who I would recommend it to, but I'm glad I read it just to know it was there.
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on 5 February 2016
the title is way off the story in the book
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on 28 April 2011
Unknown to the author when he wrote it, this book would become two things. First, as intended, it is an unembellished memoir of life as a P.O.W. of the Japanese written by a non-elite Indian from Mangalore. Second, it is an unintended companion to the semi-biographical novel written decades later by his son. The father wrote his book at a time when non-elite Indians simply did not write books. The son, unknowingly emulating his father, wrote a book at a time when non-elite Indians STILL did not write books. Or get them published and recognized, anyway. Another decade or two passes and the son would find his father's book, handwritten (no typewriters for any but the rich in southern India) on old and yellowed paper, the paper itself a borrowed luxury. The book was written before he was born, and then consigned to storage, where it would languish nearly forgotten for half a century.

In Eaten as a memoir, you see the horror of war, without a trace of artifice, through the eyes of one who was there, the writing a simple act of catharsis with no reasonable expectation that anything would come of it. You see the writer as soldier in the British Empire's Indian army arrive at his plush assignment in Singapore, the quick collapse of Singapore to the onrushing Japanese army, the vicissitudes of life doing slave labor for the Japanese war effort, the final Japanese defeat, and his release and return to India. Too bad this memoir was discovered so many years after the event. It deserves to be ranked with the best.

Then, there is Eaten as a companion to the son's book, Revised Kama Sutra. In Kama, you see the father as a side character in the son's search for meaning, the son catching only those distorted and one-dimensional glimpses of a parent's past that are generally allowed to the child. In Eaten, you see that same father when he himself was a young man, with his alluded-to past made central and explicit. Finally, in the postscript to Eaten, written by the son, you see the son discovering and publishing his father's book so many years after publishing his own. The son, now a father, too, has a new understanding of his own father. Taken together, these two books make a pathos-filled and powerful multi-generational work of art.

As an American and thirty-year resident of Japan, I would qualify some of the son's conclusions on the meaning of his father's work. Japan should apologize for its war crimes!, he says. Well, yes it should. Just like America should apologize for the atomic bombing of civilians, like both America and Britain should apologize for the fire-bombing of civilians. Ain't gonna happen. In fact, I personally find more recognition among the Japanese intelligentsia for Japanese war crimes than I do among the American or English intelligentsia for theirs. The writer is neither American nor English, so this may not be a valid criticism of his thinking. But I just can't let the winners of war off the hook on this point.

Anyway, personal recognition and contrition are probably more important than official apologies. The son points out that Japan is deficient in recognition and contrition compared to Germany. True, but partly that's a reflection of Japan's culture of shame. Such cultures have different ways of assimilating past sins and making sure they don't happen again. And besides, Japan's recognition and contrition are certainly superior to America and England's. More important than the national apologies, I think, because it leads to recognition and contrition, is giving books such as Eaten By The Japanese a wide audience.

The Revised Kama Sutra: A Novel
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on 12 August 2014
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on 7 April 2013
Have not finished it written by a foreigner does not get points across.kerkergv rkgnvkrnv krgnv rkgtn krgtnkrt kjrgtn jrgtb krgtvkrvh
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