Wednesday, December 20, 2006

One Fourteenth of an Elephant by Ian Denys Peek

One Fourteenth of an Elephant"A memoir of life and death on the Burma - Thailand railway"
Copyright: 2005
Pages: 520
Book Source: Own Purchase

 In February 1942, Singapore fell to the Japanese and Denys Peek was among the tens of thousands of British and Commonwealth soldiers and citizens taken prisoner. Eight months later, he and countless other PoWs were packed into steel goods wagons and transported by rail to Slam - their destination the massive construction project that would become infamous as the Burma Thailand Railway. He would spend the next three years in over 15 different work and 'hospital' camps on the railway, stubbornly refusing to give up in a place where over 20,000 prisoners of war (an innumerable slave labourers) met their deaths. Written with clarity, passion and a remarkable eye for detail, Denys Peek's memoir recalls not just the hardships and horrors of the railway, the daily struggle for survival, but also the comradeship, spirit and humour of the men who worked on it. It stands as a haunting, evocative and deeply moving testimony to the suffering of those who lived and died there - a salutary reminder of man's potential for inhumanity to his fellow man.
I found this memoir particularly meaningful. I have a great uncle who was a POW forced to work on the Burma railway, he had all his fingernails removed by the Japanese whilst a prisoner & I also visited the Bridge over River Kwai and memorial museum while in Thailand.

Told in the present tense, One Fourteenth of an Elephant is an evocative and deeply moving recount of the suffering and bravery of those who lived and died on the railway. The author and survivor Ian Denys Peek takes us through the courageous daily struggle for survival against inhumanity and brutality, degradation, misery and death.

The atrocities were horrific but this book was far from depressing. The story is told with passion, honesty and humour and only a small degree of repetitiveness. An enlightening 'MUST' read.


Post a Comment

Thanks for taking the time to leave some comment love, I'm a 'comment back' kinda girl. Don't forget to check the 'Notify me' box