Author(s): Brian MacArthur
Many of the prisoners held by the Japanese during the WWII were so scarred by their experiences that they could not discuss them even with their families. They believed that their brutal treatment was, literally, incomprehensible. But some prisoners were determined that posterity should know how they were starved and beaten, marched almost to death or transported on 'hellships', used as slave labour - most notoriously on the Burma-Thailand railway - and how thousands died from tropical diseases. They risked torture or execution to draw and write diaries that they hid wherever they could, sometimes burying them in the graves of lost comrades. The diaries tell of inhumanity and degradation, but there are also inspirational stories of courage, comradeship and compassion. When men have unwillingly plumbed the depths of human misery, said one prisoner, the artist Ronald Searle, they form a silent understanding of what solidarity, friendship and kindness to others can mean. The diaries and interviews with surviving prisoners drawn on in Surviving The Sword will tell a new generation about that solidarity, friendship and kindness.
* Author PR activity to include media interviews and appearances at literary festivals * Review round-ups * Reading copies available
*'Here is an important, timeless story, and MacArthur does it justice' EVENING STANDARD *'Skilfully structured, measured and compassionate account ... [MacArthur shows] clear perspective, narrative energy and immense empathy' FINANCIAL TIMES *'Brian MacArthur does an excellent job in telling a new generation of the inhumanity and degradation [FEPOWs] suffered and the remarkable courage and comradeship the men displayed in defiance of evil' SUNDAY EXPRESS 'Brian MacArthur has made a significant contribution to the literature of the war in the Far East, which is still much less known to us than the matching struggle in Europe' SUNDAY TELEGRAPH 'MacArthur does justice to these men. He lays bare the horrors, so awful that, reading of them, one is amazed that there were any survivors. But he also pays tribute to the courage the vast majority showed in their determination not to die, and especially to the work of their doctors and medical staff, improvising ways of carrying out operations in appalling conditions. Excerpts from the diaries that some of them managed to keep make you realise that the Japanese camps, like the Nazi death camps, were all that we have imagined of ell translated to the surface of the Earth and made reality. There are pages of this book that will bring tears to your eyes, tears evoked by horror pity and often admiration' Allan Massie, TIMES 'Commendably, in this first essay into military history, he has allowed the voices of these veterans of the Far East Prisoners of War Association to speak to us directly across the 60-year void; they echo from the mouth of a tropical hell with an awful eloquence ... a deeply moving read' John Crossland, SUNDAY TIMES 'Brian MacArthur's compelling story of the extraordinary suffering of British, Australian, Dutch and American prisoners of the Japanese provides excruciating detail ... the capacity of men to inflict misery on each other is almost balanced by their ability to find little pleasures in the most terrible of circumstances' TLS
Brian MacArthur is associate editor of THE TIMES. He was founder editor of TODAY and THE TIMES HIGHER EDUCATION SUPPLEMENT and has been a journalist for forty years. He is the editor of three books on journalistic themes for Penguin.