James Clavell, born Charles Edmund Dumaresq Clavell was a British novelist, screenwriter, director and World War II veteran and prisoner of war. Many of his novels were converted to movies, most famous of them being The Great Escape with Steve McQueen. In WW II he was wounded by machine-gun fire, he was eventually captured and sent to a Japanese prisoner-of-war camp on Java. Later he was transferred to Changi Prison in Singapore. He suffered greatly at the hands of his Japanese captors. Changi was notorious for its poor living conditions. Clavell was reportedly saved, along with an entire battalion, by an American prisoner. The novel
This is captured in the novel King Rat from 1962. The novel opens in early 1945. Peter Marlowe, a young British Flight Lieutenant, has been a P.O.W. since 1942. He describes horrible conditions in Changi. The P.O.W.'s are given nothing by the Japanese other than filthy huts to live in and the bare minimum of food needed to prevent starvation. Officers from various parts of Britain's Asian empire are reduced to wearing rags and homemade shoes. Biggest concern is obtaining enough food to stay alive from day to day and avoiding disease or injury, since almost no medical care is available. Some literally steal food out the mouths of their comrades, while others give away what they have or take terrible risks to help their friends. Then Marlowe meets with „King“, an american corporal who became infamous throughout the camp as the most successful trader and black marketeer in Changi. Actually he was the only one who lived like a human being with clean clothes and enough food for more than 5 men. They become close friends, later Marlowe helps King with his trades. Marlowe being a naive idealist then sees how the world really works, he changes his points of view what makes his bond with King even stronger. The book ends with liberation of the camp by British forces. King leaves to America and is never seen by Marlove again. The book features many different characters, from different countries and their struggle for survival. Some live of the others, some take great risks to help the others, biggest of them being a construction of a riado to get news about the progress of war, what later Marlowe with 2 of his friends do too. Novel realisticaly shows the life in a prison camp, men´s problems with food, deseases, japanese guards, weather, their personalities, concerns about their families or how the war will end. Analylis of the book
King Rat – why is the book called King Rat? One of the main character´s last name and also nickname is „King“ and the rat probably because they literaly lived like rats while they were in Changi. So he was the King of the rats. Or, Later in the book they start a rat farm to get meat and sell it and the first rat they caught was the biggest and the strongest of all so the title can be based on the similarity of King with this rat. The novel consists of 4 parts called Book One, Book two, Book Three, and Book Four. Each book deals with a little different time and closely describe different characters. They go chronologically where Book One is the beginning of the story early in year 1945 and Book Four shows King´s and Marlowe´s last and biggest deal and moves to their departure from the camp in the end. It has 26 chapters simply named Chapter + a number. Reason for this is that there is so much going on in each chapter that it would be very difficult to name the chapters and the names would be very misleading. It has 383 pages. There is no pattern to this, no resemblance to years of his birth or anything. He just finished on his page and so it has 383 pages. The book itself is great, the way it´s written is very exceptional and catchy and the way the writter puts so many ideas and situations together is simly ingenious. But in the end many things are left unexplained like fake promotion of an MP officer or fates of different characters. It is full of reported...
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