This first hand account of three and a half years (the whole of the Pacific war) in captivity is highly instructive, and not only because of what it tells us about life as a POW of the Japanese.
The author tells us about the embarrassingly inadequate preparations by the British for the defense of Singapore. Not only did they fail despite General percival having actually foreseen an attack from Malaya, but they did not even allow many Singaporeans and Malayans to defend themselves, as London did not trust the local Chinese population enough to issue them weapons.
Life as a POW was not so bad in the beginning, at Changi prison, we learn, and the prisoners were treated in a relatively human way. The author argues that life for some British regulars was not worse than in their poor homes in the UK. They learned Japanese and could move out of prison and around the island relatively easily. They were often treated badly, but no worse than the Japanese would treat their own men.
Being a prisoner of war, for the Japanese, was a degradation far worse than dying in combat, and given this mentality it comes as no surprise that enemy POWs were cosidered little more than scum. Things got worse as the war progressed, and conditions were much worse at the prison camp in Korea where they were moved. The final camp in Tokyo was as bad or worse and August 1945 did not come a day too soon. Elation with freedom and victory had its tragic moments, such as when some POWs were killed by crates of food dropped for them by American B-29s!
It was a bit surprising to me to read that throughout this time the International Red Cross did not appear to be as active as one would have expected in checking on the POW's conditions, even though parcels from home were repeatedly delivered to them.
It was equally surprising to learn that in a rigid hierarchy as the Japanese military, even privates were given more command responsibility than their Western equivalents and subordinates who were close to the action were listened to more than their superiors who were further removed.
Very well written. It isvery descriptive of what the conditions for these poor people was really like. The Author writes of his true feelings at times when he was in torturous situations that he had no control over. He had the determination to survive and to be able to one day report the wrong doings of his brutal captors.
An excellent historical book. I found it really interesting, and I couldn't put it down. It gives real insight into WW2 in the Far East, and this guy's personal account of some of the stuff that went on. It's different too, because you don't often hear a story of a POW who actually got shipped to Japan itself. A good read.
Most first-hand accounts, excellent & harrowing they all tend to be, are not written by professional, experienced writers. This account is by a man who was a journalist, so he tends to make the story that much more 'readable'. Like all FEPoW books, it makes this reader angry & greatly saddened but This one especially angry.
There is a stunning sting in the tail which a bit of follow up research on Google makes the events told all the more astonishing & thought provoking when one reads what happened to one of the main characters post-war.
It adds a little bit more 'meat' to the history of a shocking & unforgivable period
Graphic day to day account of the dreadfull experiences of these POWs. How many of them survived is a mirical. Dreadful though it was it does portray slightly better conditions than some other situations, ie. the Burma Railway, this maybe in my reading of it. God knows, an experience no one should have ever endured. A really good read.
What this man and others, (women too) went through was appaling. He took all the torture with stoicism and endured awful pain and conditions. Such a shame that his (dishonourable) tormentor ran away and hid like the real coward and bully that he appears to have been.
A fascinating Book! A 'must-read' after watching and reading 'Unbroken'!
Wade's book gives a detailed, historical account from the British perspective of what is was truly like to be an Allied Prisoner of the Japanese in WWII. A very brutal experience indeed! In fact, having watched the 'Unbroken' movie again, it appears that much of the set design and scenes from the POW camp were based on Wade's book and his detailed drawings of the camp (see the book cover). Wade himself is also in the movie, appearing as the British officer 'Tom' in some of the main scenes with Louis Zamperini (both men shared the same experience - read Zamperini's own book, 'Devil at My Heels')
Also, please ignore the 1 star Richard Baker review below. The review by Richard Barker is completely wrong regarding his own assertion of the historical inaccuracy of the facts in this book. There are lots of independent valid sources - including the British, American, Australian and Canadian POW survivors themselves who were actually there - that fully support the historical information presented in Wade's book.
This book gave a fascinating insight into the subject. One of those books that makes you think! the writing is good and paced well-being factual it could be harrowing for some but i couldn't put it down