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Building the death railway : the ordeal of…

Building the death railway : the ordeal of American POWs in Burma,…

by Robert S. LaForte

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"Our camp was built in a mudhole. You're in mud and filth all the time, and in the jungle everything is decaying vegetation. So any scratch you'd get would become infected by nightfall." -Charley L. Pryor USMC, USS Houston. The Oscar-winning movie The Bridge on The River Kwai dramatized to millions the building of the infamous Japanese "Death Railway" - the supply line for Japan's planned invasion of India during World War II. But the movie only told us part of the.story, giving the impression that all the men working on the line were British. Actually, 668 Americans-serving on the USS Houston and with the Texas National Guard's Second Battalion - worked along side the other Allied troops in the jungle camps. In Building The Death Railway their story is told for the first time. As only they can tell it. In 22 interviews with American survivors we learn the details of their lengthy ordeal. Disease, punishment, camaraderie, work.conditions, and attempts to escape are described by the men who were there. Beginning with their capture and ending with their liberation 42 months later, the men remember how it was. The Burma-Thailand "Death Railway" was one of the most horrible sentences that a prisoner of war could endure. Thousands died in the jungles of Burma. More than 130 Americans - one man in five - never returned home, victims of neglect, abuse, starvation, and disease. A story of human.generosity amid the greatest cruelty, Building the Death Railway gives the American perspective on events that shocked the world.… (more)

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