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King rat by James Clavell
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King rat (original 1962; edition 1975)

by James Clavell

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1,865243,706 (3.96)88
Member:TheoClarke
Title:King rat
Authors:James Clavell
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Rating:****1/2
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King Rat by James Clavell (1962)

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English (21)  French (1)  Spanish (1)  Dutch (1)  All languages (24)
Showing 1-5 of 21 (next | show all)
It is hard to imagine the true horror of life under Japanese occupation as a foreigner in the second world war, but this story does a good job at helping to understand that horror. The story is about more than survival in an inhumane prisoner of war (POW) camp, it is about capital, class, military hierarchy, rules and regulation, friendship and social organisations. The story is told through the lens of the fictional yet personal stories of the characters and the relationships they have between them and the situation and suffering of their loved ones. Survival is king! Amongst any group of survivors there are those that are better off because they are lucky. It is a warning and an education to learn of the rat eat rat reduction of humanity in Japanese POW camps. ( )
  agdturner | Jun 3, 2013 |
An interesting and engrossing novel. I found this difficult to put down, and ended up reading it in two days.

This is based on the author's experiences in a Japanese POW camp, which adds to the realism. But it's a novel, not an autobiography, and it should be read with that in mind. I've seen a few reviews which mark it down for factual inaccuracy, but I think that's missing the point.

Maybe not quite as good as Shogun, but that's mainly because Shogun is so good that it's hard to live up to. ( )
  Pondlife | Apr 6, 2012 |
Much to my own surprise (as generally a non-Fiction reader) it seems I own and have read four of James Clavell's novels … Shogun, Tai-Pan, Noble House and King Rat. The only one I would even consider re- reading is King Rat as I am afraid that I equate the others as pure “Mental Chewing Gum” akin to soap-operas or the Idle American type television-shows.

King Rat, set in a Japanese prisoner of war camp is his chilling account of how any one of us might descend into exploiting our fellows in inhuman conditions. This ability to evolve, or rather, devolve into a type of behavior of a person we would normally abhor, given the right pressures and circumstances, horrifies me. Could we really fall into such moral turpitude?

I recall the creeping suspicion and the gradual horror of an emerging empathy as I read Hitler’s Willing Executioners ( http://www.librarything.com/work/13440) and caution myself that we could all find ourselves as tempted as the ”Rat” in those conditions of humans lost in a savage survival.
  John_Vaughan | Mar 1, 2012 |
Clavell's best novel IMHO (warning: it reads much differently from his others, this is no Shogun or Taipan). The POW story alone is gripping, but there's a central question that resonates - what parts of your soul would you give up to survive? It makes for a rather satisfying and haunting ending with the follow up question: what kind of man would those choices make out of you, when you become free? ( )
  Arbitrex | Feb 1, 2012 |
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There was a war. Changi and Utram Road jails in Singapore do - or did - exist. Obviously the rest of this story is fiction, and no similarity to anyone living or dead exists or is intended.
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For Those Who Were There
And Are Not,
For Those Who Were There And Are.
For Him. But Most,
For Her.
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Changi was set like a pearl on the eastern tip of Singapore Island, iridescent under the bowl of tropical skies.
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At a Japanese prisoner camp during World War II, an American corporal seeks dominance over captives and captors alike, using courage, knowledge of human weaknesses, and willingness to exploit every opportunity to enlarge his power and corrupt or destroy anyone who stands in his way.… (more)

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