King Rat
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King Rat (Asian Saga #1)

4.03 of 5 stars 4.03  ·  rating details  ·  19,620 ratings  ·  416 reviews
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...more
ebook, 480 pages
Published November 19th 2008 by Dell (first published 1962)
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John Wiswell
Jul 29, 2007 John Wiswell rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: History readers, WW2 readers, literary readers, culture clash readers
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 more interesting because Clavell himself was held in a Japanese prison camp during the...more
Galina
Сега знам защо тази книга е толкова популярна, защо е класика.
Защото е драматично-иронична песен за войната, мъжеството, приятелството, смъртта и дома. Защото в нея има всичко. Има страх, примирение, безразличие, има надежда и любов.
Любимият ми цитат:

Питър Марлоу се придвижи между Дънкън и корееца и прикри капитана така, че той да поизостане от хората си и да излезе отстрани. Колоната се точеше по пътя, но майката и детето не направиха никакъв знак. Когато Дънкън се изравни с тях, погледите им з...more
Katie Abbott Harris
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...more
Paul
A brutally realistic account of soldier's survival in a Japanese WWII prison camp.

Clavell doing what he does best; making history come to life with very interesting and entertaining fiction.

Back for more...

i just found out that King Rat is in part autobiographical. Clavell was apparently a POW himself. That explains are great deal. i was very much awed that a fictional book could be so incredibly detailed and convey the day to day struggle of the characters so well. JC was writing from experienc...more
Karla (Mossy Love Grotto)
Nov 30, 2011 Karla (Mossy Love Grotto) rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: lovers of gritty ambiguous food for thought stories
(4.5 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 Clavell.)

Clavell's style here isn't exactly my cup of tea: so many run-on sentences, and I th...more
Craig
Jul 04, 2007 Craig rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: Anyone
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 WWII.

And yet, the book is mostly comedic -- filled with the hopefu...more
Mark
Clavell is better known for his later Shogun and other Japanese history novels, but this earlier novel about the lives of Americans and British POWs in a Japanese prisoner of war camp is a classic. The title character is an American with a true gift for survival in the underground economy of the camp, and the book raises many questions about what the most ethical road is to take in an impossible moral situation.
Mary
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Manny
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...more
Trax
This is the kind of society and social hierarchy, that of a WWII POW camp, that would not be out of place in a science fiction novel about a dystopian world. The story is structured in a way to perfectly juxtapose the classism, corruption, and hypocrisy of the various groups. All the while that these factions exist within the camp, and the hierarchy exists within, the Japanese maintain the camp and are literally the real enemy. It is a really great book about survival under prison conditions and...more
Thannasset
Probably the best book about WWII prison camps written--and there were/are a myriad of them. This author is worth reading, always was. Many know him only for Shogun. This book struck me as probably intensely autobiographical, tho I never went and researched whether Clavell was actually an inmate of Changi prison camp during WWII. Recommended to readers of historical fiction, those interested in the WWII Pacific theater, and anyone interested in the decline and fall of the British Empire.

Lawrence FitzGerald
I refer you to Wikipedia for the basics. Honestly, it's worth a look.

This is a deeply subversive novel as witnessed by the acts of the senior British officers.

Written in good clean prose that takes a back seat to characterization and story. In fact, as you might suspect, this novel is all about character and characterization. Clavell succeeds brilliantly.
T.A. Uner
As an Author myself I trace my roots on why I wanted to write back to "King Rat." After "Shogun" this is probably my favorite Clavell story, and rightfully so, as this was written based on Clavell's own experiences in a POW camp in WW II.

What I take most from this book is that it directly inspired me to pursue writing, not for writing's sake, but to leave something worthwhile behind to inspire future generations.
Гергана
От тук тръгна любовта ми към Джеймс Клавел...
Evolots
Jul 19, 2012 Evolots rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Evolots by: Vasil Tonev
Клавел наистина има добри попадения изледвайки живота в един лагер на военнопленници по време на втората световна война.

Жаждата за живот и омразата към високопоставените изяжда душите на всички. Благодарение на приспособилият се към живота в лагера Цар и сечащият му като бръснач ум преживяват и всички останали. Но те са твърде заслепени от завистта си, за да оценят факта, че дължат преживяването си на Царя. С черна търговия и хитрост той винаги съумява да е на ръба между охолният си живот в лаг...more
Jonathan
The story of life in a Japanese prison camp in which American and British soldiers are held. It is during WWII (obviously).

Inside the camp, the ranks of officers and enlisted men play little part in the dynamics of day-to-day life. It is a question of who can adapt to the deprivation of the camp and has the ability to acquire additional resources.

An American enlisted man becomes an unofficial king of the camp as he possesses the cunning that allows him to get more food and material from the Japa...more
Harv Griffin
pic of my copy of King

At one time or another I've read most or all of James Clavell's novels. KING RAT is by far my favorite. I've lost count of the number of times I've read this novel. I also own the movie version of the story on DVD; and yes, I've lost count of the number of times I've watched the movie. I like the book better.

Clavell survived as a POW in WWII. The sub-story is that the Peter Marlowe character in KING RAT is a fictionalized version of James Clavell and that the Corporal King character is a fictio...more
Vasil
Нека първо да започна с едно признание - аз съм огромен почитател на Джеймс Клавел и неговата така наречена "Азиатска сага" ( 1. Цар Плъх 2. Тай Пан 3. Шогун 4. Търговска къща 5. Вихрушка 6. Гай Джин). За мен той е "мерилото" що се отнася до книги разказващи за изтока. Самият факт, че всеки, който напише каквото и да е по тази тема и след това критиците започват да го сравняват с Клавел, говори достатъчно къде се намира той, а според мен лично той е на върха. Винаги съм смятал, че за да напишеш...more
Holly
I will admit to a certain undying love for James Clavell, mostly due to the many miniseries done of his books inthe 80's. I will also admit that I adore Richard Chamberlain for this same reason. So there.

King Rat is actually a lot different from his other books set in Asia, partly I think because there are no women to speak of. The man in his other books displays a very early 80's chauvinist attitude: he loved to make a big deal about the women's lib movement, in a very patronizing "aren't they...more
Tinea
Jul 22, 2009 Tinea rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Tinea by: Fidget
Shelves: brain-candy
Fidget is really good at recommending books that hook. I never read enough good fiction because I have a block that prevents me from picking up apolitical books. It's a good thing I hang with this kid.

We read King Rat one after the other while backpacking, and I think the word we came up for it was "thrilling." King Rat tells the story of English, Australian, and American WWII prisoners of war in a Japanese camp. They are mostly left to fend for themselves and what unfolds is a grown-up Lord of...more
David
Disappointing, which is a shame, because the concept has so much potential: American, British and Australian POWs in a Japanese prison camp in the latter stages of the Pacific War have basically been abandoned to self-governance; they can do pretty much anything they want, except leave, or get a decent meal or bath. The society they form, with rules and rivalries, seems all the more absurd, as is the central quest of "King" to be the biggest capitalist wheeler-dealer in the sandbox, and even mor...more
George
EPIC ENJOYABLE READING

“Writing can be just about the most important job in the whole world. If it’s any good.”—61%

James Clavell was an amazing writer/storyteller. For him writing should have been the most important job in the whole world because it was so very good. His epic historical novels give you a sense of having been there.

KING RAT (ASIAN SAGE #1) is the third story of his ‘Asian Saga’ series that I have read, now, and it has me looking happily forward to reading more.

Recommendation: REA...more
Martyn V. Halm
My interest in Japanese culture was just blossoming when I came across this powerhouse of a book, which I have re-read since at least three times. The story, about a friendship between an American soldier and a British officer in a Japanese POW camp, and the way the two men influence one another, is interesting enough on its own, but the book also gives insight in how the camp strips the occupants of their civilization and shows the lengths people go through to survive. Recommended not only to t...more
Svetla Angelova
Действието се развива през Втората световна война. В основата на романа са заложени впечатления от действителни събития в живота на автора: като участник във войната Клавел е изпратен в японски военнопленически лагер на индонезийския остров Ява, а впоследствие е преместен в затвора Чанги, близо до Сингапур. „Цар Плъх“ описва борбата за оцеляване на британски, австралийски и американски военнопленници в японски лагер в Сингапур. Един от главните герои е Питър Марлоу, чийто образ е създаден въз ос...more
Walter
"King Rat" is the shortest but the best of the James Clavell novels that I have read so far. The scene of the novel is stark. It's the prisoner of war camp of Changi in Singapore, a place of starvation and brutality of British and American prisoners. Clavell's characters are vivid and interesting, especially the main character, "The King", an American corporal who is the czar of the underground in the camp. The King gathers disciples around him, British and American officers who would not give a...more
Ranee
Oct 28, 2007 Ranee rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition Recommends it for: those who loved empire of the sun
recalling it was a bit tricky, i keep interchaninging scenes from the movie, empire of the sun with the chapers from this book. found some parallelism in their story, but well, maybe my memory could be acting weird on me.
bottomline, this book created enough scenes that could actually transport you back in that particular era, and just like that, fill your senses with enough taste of that "triumph of the human spirit" that we enjoy reading about in other war themed books we have read.
Jim
Clavell was a prisoner of war of the Japanese during WWII & this book is about living in such a camp. It's an incredibly good, yet horrible story. It's not really like 'One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovitch' except that it does give a pretty granular look at just how far from the human norm people can adapt. I can't say much else without a spoiler, so I'll just say that it won't ever be your favorite book to read over & over, but it's a 'must read once'.
Angela
Magnificent! This was utterly engrossing storytelling, which offered offered a fascinating exploration into human nature and the strong will to survive at any cost. The vastly omniscient narrative took a little getting used to - Clavell tells you what everyone is thinking at every moment - but it worked as it gave the story a great deal of depth and insight into each character's motives and fears. Well worth the read.
Robb Thomas
Along the same lines as a lot of the other Clavell novels. The main character is almost identical in all of the stories, and possesses an almost Ayn Rand type ideology of independence and personal achievement. Thoroughly enjoyable, but simplistic. A lazy book that engages the imagination, but in keeps the brain from stirring within its fleshy encasing.
Dick
Having written my own first novel . . . and seen how much better (even marginally) my second novel is compared to that first one . . . its good to see that other novelist's first also screamed "FIRST TIME NOVEL!"

By no means am I equating myself to James Clavell, but King Rat, although good, was nowhere near the mind blowing epic that Shogun was (you can see my review of Shogun http://puborperish.blogspot.com/searc... then again Tai Pan wasn't as good as Shogun either. King Rat was not only not a...more
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James Clavell, born Charles Edmund Dumaresq 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.


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James Clavell. (2007, November 10). In Wikipedia, The Free Encyclopedia....more
More about James Clavell...
Shōgun (Asian Saga, #3) Tai-Pan (Asian Saga, #2) Noble House (Asian Saga, #4) Gai-Jin (Asian Saga, #6) Whirlwind (Asian Saga, #5)

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“And Adam ruled, for he was the King. Until the day his will to be King deserted him. Then he died, food for a stronger. And the strongest was always the King, not by strength alone, but King by cunning and luck and strength together. Among the rats.” 16 likes
“Guard yourself and your conscience no one else will and know that a bad decision at the right time can destroy you far more surely than any bullet!” 6 likes
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