Railway Man: A POW's Searing Account of War, Brutality and Forgiveness
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Railway Man: A POW's Searing Account of War, Brutality and Forgiveness

4.11 of 5 stars 4.11  ·  rating details  ·  1,938 ratings  ·  317 reviews
From The Railway Man:


The passion for trains and railroads is, I have been told, incurable. I have also learned that there is no cure for torture. These two afflictions have been intimately linked in the course of my life, and yet through some chance combination of luck and grace I have survived them both.


I was born in Edinburgh, in the lowlands of Scotland, in 1919. My f...more
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Published December 1st 1980 by W. W. Norton & Company
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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Mikey B.
This is an extraordinary personal rendition of the ordeal of this man’s life. The writing is to the point and very poignant, giving much feeling to the sufferings the author endured.

The author had a rather sheltered life in Scotland. His descriptions of his upbringing and his infatuation with trains give stark contrast to the later events. Given his predilection for structure, the army also provided that, when he was recruited at the outbreak of war in 1939. He trained somewhat in Scotland and E...more
J.
Published in 1995, I decided to read this after I had seen the trailer for the film. My interest was piqued as the film starred Colin Firth. Colin Firth is a lover of literature and for the most part has chosen wisely in terms of film adaptations e.g. 'A Single Man', 'The End of the Affair', 'Pride and Prejudice', 'The Railway Man' etc..The book centers on Eric Lomax a Scottish engineer with the British army who was taken prisoner by the Japanese after the fall of Singapore.

The book starts with...more
Rowan
After seeing the movie and being quite affected by it ( interesting audience in cinema, nobody left in hurry afterwards and some were crying ) I was eager to read the book.

To my surprise the book is different to the film in a lot of detail ( and much better ) but with still covering the same themes.

The really great thing about this autobiographical account of the war is that it not all about the war. The author starts at the beginning with fantastic detailed observations of the last of the steam...more
Paul Lima
A gut-wrenching story of a POW during the Second Word War. When the British surrender in the far east to the Japanese, thousands of soldiers become prisoners of war. This is the story of one of them, although it touches on many of them. The first half of the book covers this train-lover's growing up in Scotland in what can only be called a time of innocence. Most of the second half of the book covers the time he spends as a POW. The last part of the book covers his return to freedom at the end o...more
Nigeyb
The Japanese treatment of their Prisoners Of War during World War Two is about as monstrous as it's possible to imagine. Curiously though, and despite some horrific personal experiences at the hands of his captors, Eric Lomax's account is most memorable as an inspiring, humbling and remarkable reminder of much that is good about humanity.

There is so much in this book: early Scottish childhood memories; a lifelong obsession with railways; joining a Christian sect as a teenager; travelling to Ind...more
Diane Warrington
A very difficult but compelling read, this is the story of a man who went through the utmost brutality in WW11 but had the courage to realise that the process of forgiving one of his captors would help heal himself. This is a very difficult read in places. All of the rubbish tv in the world (Hannibal, CSI etc) cannot match some of the scenes in this book for horror and absolute lack of humanity. The eternal question is, what happens to some men that during times of war all the rulebooks of commo...more
Carol
Eric Lomax writes a beautiful and moving war memoir of his early love and obsession with trains and his ironic war time experiences that bring him in contact with the railway again in the most horrific way. He loves trains so much as a boy that his parents worry about him. He knows all details of operations of trains, trams and cable cars of the early 20th century and is a big fan of the steam engine. He grew up in the Portabello section of Edinburgh, Scotland. His mother is from the Shetland Is...more
Betsy Everett
Just read this again, after several years, on hearing a film was imminent. It made an even bigger impression second time round. It's the sort of book you can't get out of your head when you've finished it: the image of the little Edinburgh boy who cycled all over the city, and gradually further afield, to see and wonder at and mark the progress of the steam trains and railways he loved, never leaves you. Throughout all the pain and horror he then experiences as a prisoner of war at the hands of...more
Alex Pearl
This account of the author's experiences as a Japanese prisoner of war is, as you'd expect, a fairly harrowing one. But what lifts this remarkable tale is the book's humanity and compassion, and the tenderness of its narrative.
Whether Eric Lomax is re-living his childhood fascination with steam locomotives and trams, or describing the horrendous, inhuman acts of torture, the prose are consistently imbued with an almost poetic and innocent sense of wonder.
The details, observations and character s...more
Frances Heneghan
Soul-stirring story of hate, cruelty and the deprivations of POWs in Asia during WWII. Eric Lomax was an extraordinary man who finally found hard-won peace through forgiveness.
I haven't seen the film based on this book, nor do I intend to.
The reading creates images that are unforgettable.
S.
Dec 20, 2009 S. rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who complain too much
Shelves: bio-diary-memoir, war
The prose is not the most accomplished but the story is overwhelming. I read this years ago and still remember with horror the torture Lomax went through. And still, amazingly, at the end, forgiveness!
Neil
One Sunday morning about two months ago I was reading the obituaries and I saw the one for Eric Lomax. I did not know who he was, but I read it and learned of his book. Before I had finished reading the obituary I grabbed the laptop to try to reserve a copy at the Boston Public Library. It was shortly after nine AM and I was already the second in line for one of their five copies. What compelled me to read it immediately is that the obituary mentioned there will be a forthcoming movie and I did...more
Weiss Blumen
It's only as I finished this novel that I realised what a truly wonderful book this is! In the early chapters I was slow to get into it. You need to realise that it's a well written memoir rather than a slickly written novel. However it's the truthfulness, the humaneness, the synchronicity, the coincidences that come together to form a true inspirational story.

For me, I felt such hopefulness and it reinforced the strength and courage of the human spirit. Miracles happened in Eric Lomax's life (...more
Wanda
Aug 17, 2014 Wanda marked it as to-read
17 AUG 2014 - Bettie and I viewed the film version of this book over the weekend; I on Saturday and she on Sunday. Bettie mentioned she and M were discussing the possibility of forgiveness. I answered as follows:

Yes, I did. I rented the film from my cable provider so it remains in my viewing line-up for today yet. So, I will be re-watching this afternoon.

It is amazing to me the length of time Mr Lomax carried his "hate" deep within himself - 40+ years. I am certain this long amount of time in w...more
 Soph - Lock&Key
I want to go and see the movie, so therefore I must read the book first :p

putting this down for a bit.....
Alexi Hill
This book is now my favorite book of all time. It is a very incredible an moving story. It is very difficult to wrap one's mind around the fact that this actually happened to Eric Lomax, and the fact that he could forgive one of his torturers/interrogators. This was an amazing story, which made it a very easy and quick read. Usually, I don't enjoy reading non-fiction books, but this is definitely an exception. This is a book I could read over and over again. I was simply amazed at the end of The...more
Trina
I read this awhile ago, and remember liking it a great deal tho' little sticks with me other than the bits about growing up in Scotland. Which is ironic since usually it's the war parts that are so memorable. Maybe the film will jog my memory...? Sometimes the movie versions are better than the books - A Town Like Alice comes to mind. Loved Bryan Brown in that. And then there's the outright genius of The Bridge over the River Kwai which sears the story indelibly into your brain. Loved Alec Guinn...more
Sandy
I can be super critical of the books I read and so will try to keep a lid on it this time! Mr Lomax was not deserving of my criticism, he was tortured - I have never been.
He wasn't the only one to be tortured by the Japanese in WWII and he was not the only one to be imprisoned as his autobiography details. We can only imagine the horrors of the men, women and children who lived and died in these times. Mr Lomax was brave enough to put into words probably only some of the threats, demeaning tasks...more
Laura
From BBC Radio 4 Extra:
Eric Lomax's best-selling autobiography, featuring his wartime experiences as a prisoner of the Japanese. Read by Alec Heggie.


Another splendid BBC dramatization.

A movie The Railway Man (2013) was made based n this book, with Nicole Kidman, Hiroyuki Sanada, Colin Firth. It must be really good.

Conchita
A good book, but somehow not what I was expecting. The author gives very little insight on the soul searching that led him to forgiveness, as though he remained emotionally detached to the end of his life, or at least whilst writing these memoirs. Perhaps if the book had been written by his wife or someone very close to him, but not damaged by his experiences, we would have had a better picture. The other, indirect, victims of his torture were obviously his first wife and children, although they...more
John Stanton
There are a great number of war autobiographies out there which are mind-numbingly BORING. This is NOT one of them. Eric Lomax had the benefit of good editors to bring out the details of his really compelling story. The insights into the impact of trauma on former POWs was something I'd never really thought about before, but this book gives due attention to it as part of the narrative. This is not a long list of names, dates and atrocities (though it has all three), but an amazing story of recon...more
Helen
Saw the movie in May and loved it so much that I needed the book. Due to other pressing commitments I did not finish the book until today but it was every bit as good as the movie and its not often I can say that the movie was as good as the book. The book dealt a lot more with the torture of the POWs but it wasn't difficult to see how the punishments could leave a huge impression on how you see your enemy and how it could last for years. I think the ending of the book was perfect - complete for...more
Peg
This is one must read book, if you have an interest in the human cost of war. Eric Lomax, a prisoner of the Japanese in Thailand during WWII was one of many forced to work on the Burma-SIam Railroad. Thought to be a spy after a clandestine radio receiver was found in his barracks along with a map of the top secret railway under construction , Lomax, along with a number of other British officers suffered the harshest torture at the hands of the Japanese. The target of Eric's rage, long after the...more
Anne-Marie
Jun 03, 2014 Anne-Marie rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: INFORMED GLOBAL CITIZENS
Recommended to Anne-Marie by: Colin Firth told me about it in our limo.
SO I heard there was a movie coming out about this with Colin Firth as the main character, so I figured I'd read the book before seeing the movie. Plus, reading a short synopsis of the plot on IMDB quickly hooked me into the story. It's a rather quick read, if you can get through the duller parts about the main character's railway obsession. I understand why he wrote about that, because it's integral to the story, but the actual description of the events that occurred was far more interesting th...more
Linda
Would you forgive the interpreter who constantly drove home the questions of his boss who was interrogating you as a suspected spy? After hearing his monotonous voice hour after hour, day after day, could you ever forget him? And the torture you went through in between the questionings? Could you ever forget his face? The only one you could actually "talk" with?

Not I. But Eric Lomax isn't me. He was captured during the fall of Singapore in WWII and kept as a Japanese POW. Because of a radio foun...more
Maysze
Doubtlessly, the recent film has once again raised my awareness of this book. In addition to my background knowledge about Japanese activity in WWII, I simply can't help but to pick up this book in order to understand more about the Japanese armies from a British veteran of the war. However, at the end, I'm seriously touched by a man who had a great heart and bravery.
Mr Lomax took me to a journey that is totally foreign to me. The treatment and torture that he had simply different to any story...more
Martina
Původně publikováno na: http://www.databazeknih.cz/recenze-kn...

Když se ke konci 30. let nad Německem stahovala mračna, vedl Eric Lomax úplně normální život ve skotském Edinburghu. Pracoval na poště, chodil do kostela a o volných chvílích se věnoval lásce svého života: železnici. Těžko mohl tušit, že o pár let a jednu vyhlášenou světovou válku později, mu právě železnice navždy změní život, a jistě ho ani nenapadlo, že o půl století později svůj příběh zaznamená v knize, která se navíc stane pře...more
Sharyn
We saw this at the movies only recently. Powerful and inspiring. I was really looking forward to the book arriving. The book and film understandably differ at key points. Brendan and I chatted today about why the filmmakers needed to build up the dramatic tension even further when the story itself is so confronting and emotional. The best answer I can come up with is that the book allows us into Lomax's mind in a way that the film doesn't enable us to. While I am reading, I know I am reading his...more
Kelly
this definitely should have been an essay and not a book OR edited a whole lot better. the last 50-70 pages were fantastic. the first 50-100 were painfully slow (i honestly found myself thinking "just get to the torture part already." sickening, right?) and parts of the middle were alright. it's weird because you would think a story about a POW can't be boring but this one was. the whole railway theme was way too heavy-handed and just sort of weird.

(spoiler alert) the highlight was definitely t...more
Brenton
A beautiful story of forgiveness and restoration. Lomax was a British POW in WWII. He was employed to work on the Burmese Railway, brutally tortured by the Japanese, and nearly died on several occasions. He returned fifty years later to meet his interrogator. He forgave him, and they quickly became friends. The interrogator had suffered from horrific guilt for five decades. The story fills in some details behind the famous movie Bridge Over The River Kwai.
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Goodreads Librari...: change page number 1 9 May 20, 2014 12:22AM  
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Lomax was a British Army officer who was sent to a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp in 1942. He is most famous for writing a book, The Railway Man, on his experience before, during, and after World War II, which won the 1996 NCR Book Award and the J. R. Ackerley Prize for Autobiography.
More about Eric Lomax...
Reader's Digest - Today's Best Nonfiction - The Railway Man, A Plague of Caterpillars, Katharine Hepburn, The Romanovs, Raising Lazarus The Last Secret: Letters to the Railway Man A Town Like Alice

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