A world within the world provides a laboratory for human behaviour utilized by James Clavell in this book to illustrate the clash of cultures, American, British, Australian, Japanese, and Malayan. The King is an American buying and selling, constantly looking for a profit, a way to get ahead in a world where the number one priority if individual survival. Peter Marlowe, a British air force officer, attracts the interest of the King when the latter discovers that Peter speaks the local dialect and thus, could be very useful for the purpose of trading with the natives. For Peter, their relationship develops into a friendship however the King maintains the belief that there are business partners and when that partnership is no longer of benefit to both, then all interactions between the two become irrelevant. Peter attracts the ire of a superior officer, Robin Grey, who dislikes his association with the King and his connections to a higher class from England. Robin hates the King's illegal trading which is open to anyone, no matter their origin of birth yet, at the same time, resents the rigid class structure that limits his ambitions for promotion in the British armed forces. Robin nearly dies of starvation while Peter is able to save his own life and one of his friends through his association with the King. The horrid conditions of the Japanese internment camp are made a reality by the reaction of rescuing troops at the end of the book. King Rat is a multilayered book that can be read and enjoyed by all ages.