Laurie's Reviews > King Rat
King Rat (Asian Saga, #1)
by James Clavell
by James Clavell
I highly recommend this book and give it 4 1/2 stars. It is a quick easy read and you won't be able to put it down once you start. The story is based on a POW prison camp, Changi, in Japanese occupied Malaya during World War II and what happens to the prisoners when survival becomes a constant daily struggle. The main character known as the King, an American elisted man, becomes the fittest of them all by breaking all the rules and imploying tactics of capitalism. He becomes both feared and envied by all of the other prisoners and his main concern is to look out for number one, himself. The second main character, Lt. Marlowe becomes a friend to the King but finds himself in a moral delimna over the tactics the King uses in order to stay at the top of the heirarchy of prison camp. The horrors of Changi force not only physical depravation from lack of food, but disease, mental illness, death and the end of society as known in the norm. King develops a brillant plan to raise rats and sell the meat as chicken meat to get back at his enemies in the camp and to make a profit and does so with the help of the prisoners who seek to be close to him and help in order to survive themselves. The rats raised below the mens huts take on a life of their own once the men are liberated and the camp is closed becoming a "rat race" where the strongest and fittest survives and becomes the king rat. James Clavell is a remarkable author who interestingly also spent time as a british POW at Camp Changi during World War II. It is a disturbing dark book on the brutality of prison camp and the effects it has on the minds and souls of the prisoners as well as the effects on the wives & family members left behind. It also gives the reader a glimpse of the difficult transitions the men face when liberated and faced with the fear of returning home. A powerful book!
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