King Rat

➹ [Reading] ➻ King Rat By James Clavell ➮ – The time is World War II The place is a brutal prison camp deep in Japanese occupied territory Here within the seething mass of humanity one man an American corporal seeks dominance over both captives The time is World War II The place is a brutal prison camp deep in Japanese occupied territory Here within the seething mass of humanity one man an American corporal seeks dominance over both captives and captors alike His weapons are human courage unblinking understanding of human weaknesses and total willingness to exploit every opportunity to enlarge his power and corrupt or destroy anyone who stands in his path.King Rat

James Clavell born Charles Edmund Dumares Clavell was a British novelist screenwriter director and World War II veteran and POW Clavell is best known for his epic Asian Saga series of novels and their televised adaptations along with such films as The Great Escape The Fly and To Sir with Love James Clavell November In Wikipedia The Free Encyclopedia.

Paperback  · King Rat Epub ò
  • Paperback
  • 368 pages
  • King Rat
  • James Clavell
  • English
  • 22 October 2014
  • 9780385333764

10 thoughts on “King Rat

  1. says:

    Changi was set like a pearl on the eastern tip of Singapore Island iridescent under the bowl of tropical skies It stood on a slight rise and around it was a belt of green and farther off the green gave way to the blue green seas and the seas to infinity of horizon This beautiful opening line is like a promise of fantastic adventure exotic trip it evokes some delightful place a mystery island you always dreamt about but it is anything but it Changi was the inhuman Japanese camp for the war prisoners for people whom the only sin was that they lost their war and didn't die I had read some camp stories already but mostly European and though my knowledge of the war on the Pacific is only basic this one felt very reliable to me Not only because it is based on facts from Clavell’s life who himself was a prisoner of Changi camp in Singapore and thanks to it the whole story being still the work of fiction gained air of realism and credibility; not only because it is a gripping well paced reading also because it reads as an excellent study of characters and morality in extreme situations And is pretty damn well writtenThe two main characters of the novel are the men representing totally different approach to life pragmatic and smart self made American named the King and Peter Marlowe somewhat uptight English guy well educated and brought up in the family with military traditions Both in readers and other prisoners the King arouses mixed feelings Disgust sympathy antipathy open hostility and then again admiration For his cleverness business sense and good fortune he’s the object of jealousy and hatred but the King is not a thief He just has a flair for organizing his life easier and seize any opportunity to gain some money and money will give him the rest The food medicaments cigarettes and something less tangible sense of power Though set in particular time and place it's a fictional account but I think Clavell did fine work here not only showing animosities between ordinary soldiers and officers confrontation between the King and other prisoners especially rivetingly is shown conflict with provost marshall Grey but also indicating different attitudes and class differences of three main national groups of prisoners British Australians and Americans King Rat is a clash of personalities a display of cynicism lack of scruples and ability to adjust to any situation in the camp But also an extraordinary courage solidarity and commitment It's about a price you are willing to pay to survive and principles you could sacrifice to make it There is no easy explicitness here no distinct line between that what you can accept and not feel irretrievably corrupted It teaches you that to outlast the camp like on the outside in fact you need to be a part at least a small group that the camp is not a place for a lone wolf But it’s also about a fear what life would be alike after Changi since no one escaped the camp unchanged that place made them then reshaped and destroyed and how one can forget about atrocities prisoners were subjected to King Rat has a whole bunch finely drawn figures but it’s the King and Marlowe that have our interest I liked the dynamics between them the way their relationship developed what they went through and lessons they learnt from themselves And though I’d like to see them leaving Changi and arm in arm going towards setting sun I somewhat felt the ending sad as it was to be trueAnd if someone prefers concise review please here it is Of rats and men

  2. says:

    The beginning of Clavell's truly epic series of culture clash novels is a curiously autobiographical book King Rat takes us to Changi a Japanese prison camp during World War 2 where British and American soldiers are held in dire conditions We watch as people cling to honor duty and any semblance of structure for their own mental health and survival Every observation about humanity in these conditions is interesting because Clavell himself was held in a Japanese prison camp during the war He controls his memories admirably in the novel to create a very moving but never selfishly irrational narrative His control creates a story that is never too hopeless to lose its deeper meaning and that embraces its characters as real people rather than tools for social messages Readers may be surprised by how entertaining such a dark story can be authors don't usually go the route Clavell travels King Rat has the least culture clash of Clavell's series as most of the interactions are between the Westerners themselves and the major emotional crux is the captivity For new readers do not be daunted by the series the books are tenuously related and can be read in almost any order you like As this book is the shortest and deals with the most characters of our own cultures it may be the easiest introduction to James Clavell though some readers may prefer to jump right into the deeper culture clash of Shogun or Noble House Regardless please read at least one James Clavell book in your lifetime There is no one in historical fiction or literary fiction uite like him

  3. says:

    I read this once decades ago but Mom I were talking about it one morning When she got her hair cut later that day she found a copy in their free book rack loved it My library has it in an audio edition so I listened to it It's a great fictionalized account of American British Australians in Changi a Japanese POW camp during WWIIThis audio edition has extra material from the original manuscript that's never been published before including an introduction written by Clavell's son Clavell was a prisoner in the Changi POW camp that this book centers around He wrote this during a screenwriter's strike in 1962 a fictionalized account of his own incarceration there While he inspired the Phillip Marlowe character Who also shows up in Noble House there really was a character who inspired The King I'm not sure how much is fact or fiction but think there's enough fact to put it on my 'sort of nonfiction' shelfThe extra material are chapters covering the story of some of the women whose men are in the prison camp They're a great addition His mother had written to him weekly On his release he received the letters During his incarceration he neither sent nor received any His mother wrote all those letters not knowing if he was alive or not Uncertainty is hell the Japanese although they signed the Geneva Convention never ratified it nor did they follow itThe Princeton Bio for James Clavell James ClavellhttpenwikipediaorgwikiJamesClIIRC when I first read this decades ago 98% of the American's in the Japanese POW camps died Those are no longer the figures I'm seeing when I google this now the Princeton Bio says only 1% of the prisoners at Changi died while Clavell says 90% Overall 14 13 of the prisoners died according to most sources By all accounts most deaths were due to disease starvation exacerbated by extremely crowded conditions Clavell does a superb job describing everything although it's awful Clavell a 6' tall man weighed 98 lbs when released from Changi likely a bit than half what he should have weighed He writes that death was a mercy to some many lost their health completely going blind losing all their teeth among other horrors The end was the most interesting The entire book is based on how horrible the camp is yet what happens when the war ends? You need to read it to find out WowWikipedia Changi PrisonhttpenwikipediaorgwikiChangiPThe original prison was built to hold 600 prisoners but the Japanese used it to hold 3000 civilians during WWII This sort of overcrowding was apparently typicalThis was read by Dave Case He had a lot to live up to since 3 others in this series were read by John Lee who absolutely wowed me He did a good jobWikipedia King Rat novel King Rat film 1965 doesn't follow the book precisely but was still a great movieThis isn't uite the correct edition The ISBN doesn't match the language is English but the narrator is Dave Case the publisher is Books On Tape so close enoughI highly recommend reading this book ONCE in any format I can't recommend a reread That would be masochistic unless you let at least a couple of decades pass It's not pleasant but really good

  4. says:

    It's not cool to praise James Clavell and indeed Shogun is extremely silly I recall a couple of Japanese people cringing when I once was foolish enough to mention it I believe they showed the series on Japanese TV But this book which is based on Clavell's own experiences as a World War II prisoner of war is pretty damn good There's something universal about his description of camp life He doesn't try and draw any moral and there are no obvious symbolic associations but at the end I found myself wondering what it was that I wasn't thinking about because I was so desperate to get enough food to stay alive Or how someone who hadn't been subjected to those pressures would view me It's worth reading

  5. says:

    This is the first volume in Clavell's Asian Saga and was written about the Japanese prison camp of Changi located in Singapore where the author himself was held as a POW during the late stages of World War II The King is a successful wheeling and dealing American Using capitalistic initiative he concocts many money making schemes the most shocking of which involves breeding rats to sell as rabbit meat He generates feelings of hatred or envy in others but everyone wants to be close to him in order to experience the material rewards that he provides He befriends an honorable British officer Peter Marlowe who acts as his interpreter and learns that many ethical dilemmas may be relative One of the most fascinating aspects occurs after the end of the war when many of the POWs are fearful to return to normal life There are moments of excitement and drama but mostly it is a testament to the strength and adaptability of the human spirit The story will be most interesting to those who enjoy military historical and cultural topics

  6. says:

    A tale of survival under brutal conditions in a prisoners of war campduring World War IINot too impressed with Clavell's other booksbut this one is his best

  7. says:

    a real good story teller not easy to be a master

  8. says:

    45 stars After a stretch of the book crankies this one finally broke the bad luck That's probably due in no small part to the fact that the 1965 movie King Rat with George Segal and James Fox is tremendously awesome and one of the best war or prison pictures I've ever seen It's the complete flip side to the jaunty and fun The Great Escape the screenplay of which oddly enough was penned by ClavellClavell's style here isn't exactly my cup of tea so many run on sentences and I think Peter Marlowe is referred to as Peter Marlowe every single time in the narrative which is very repetitious since he's the second main character But I was able to put that aside because the plot kept moving and the characters really got under the skinI also enjoyed the extras that the movie didn't show such as the cross dressing POW Sean who serves as the outlet for the prisoners' pent up desires His character served to show the mens' vulnerabilities when in captivity and their cruelties once the camp is liberated and the world becomes normal again When that happens Sean isn't a tolerated lust object any but a deviant freakI loathed Grey in the movie Tom Courtenay but I warmed up to him in the book He's still a pompous asshat with a hugeass chip on his shoulder but in the book version I saw him as an officer from the lower classes who is trying to be correct than the officers of privilege and title above him He's jealous and petty and mean but I honestly couldn't hate him He's unable to not be outsmarted and I have an affinity for underdogs anyway And the glimpses into his personal life through flashbacks made him sympathetic That said he's still a punctilious little prick and Courtenay delivered that in spades in the movieThe worst scene in the movie for me anyway animal lover that I am was here in the book and it was just as sad and morally uncomfortable Anyone who has read or seen it knows what I'm talking aboutWaaaaaaaaaaahIt's a book packed full of grey nuance Even the prison guards a motley group of Chinese and Koreans under Japanese command aren't all bad and join their captives in a cat and mouse black market game of survival These 10000 men from across the entire Allied forces are reduced to their basic instincts with a veneer of civil order If a man steals he might find himself stuck into a latrine borehole in the middle of the night to suffocate on the fumes and cockroaches and have it ruled the suicide of a thief with a guilty conscience But not all wrong doers get punished as is illustrated with the matter of the false weight measures that Grey discovers That corruption goes high up into untouchable territory and there's little he can do about it except become complicit and loathe himself and others for itI suppose the King is a figure of rugged predatory individualism traits that are praised in theory but become bad characteristics when the tables get turned and the prey feels empowered The main uestion I had at the end of the book was Did the camp need the King? Or does the King need the camp? One fed off the other and when the environment is upended the symbiotic relationship utterly falls apart Somehow I feel that once the King goes back to the States he'll become some kind of sad pathetic huckster having to constantly look for someone to fleece rather than having a captive desperate source to feed off of It's a rather sad justice that all of his cagey and morally ambiguous gains become utterly worthless once Hiroshima and Nagasaki got trounced and Japan surrendered To stay on top he needed that war to keep on goingThere's plenty here to discuss but the best thing to do is read it for yourself Then go watch the movie

  9. says:

    This was Clavell’s first novel and it shows a little bit A step or two below ‘Shogun’ and ‘Taipan’ but that’s an awfully high bar to set Loosely based off of Clavell’s personal experiences in Changi POW camp during WWII ‘King Rat’ is slower paced than you might expect Nevertheless it is entertaining with solid character development The conclusion is a bit muted and surprisingly introspective but I think Clavell was looking for an accurate depiction of his experiences in Changi rather than a crowd pleasing prison break Overall a good book Especially considering he wrote it in 9 weeks

  10. says:

    In King Rat James Clavell succeeds in doing what countless other authors usually fail at taken actual experiences from his life and distilled them into a gripping dramatic narrative And this praise is perhaps the most damnable understatement the book can receive Clavell isn't writing about experiences he is writing about the cauldron from which he was reborn his time in Changi a Japanese POW camp in Malaysia during WWIIAnd yet the book is mostly comedic filled with the hopeful gallows humor of men who are living under the constant shadow of death It's a story about survival and about friendship the true unspoken kind that men shy away from when it is put into words Perhaps the most impressive piece of trivia about this book is that it is Clavell's first novel of which he would write only 5 each a masterpiece in its own right This is the most intimate of his books taking place entirely in one setting and dealing with a fairly small cast of characters and in many ways my favorite The words read this it'll change your life are dropped too often with books but cannot be dropped often enough with this one

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