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King Rat Hardcover – Large Print, Jun 1 1984


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Hardcover, Large Print, Jun 1 1984
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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 576 pages
  • Publisher: Ulverscroft Large Print Books; Large Print edition edition (June 1984)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0708981755
  • ISBN-13: 978-0708981757
  • Product Dimensions: 23.5 x 14.6 x 3.2 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 703 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (66 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #2,523,936 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)


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"I'm going to get that bloody bastard if I die in the attempt." Read the first page
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Most helpful customer reviews

Format: Mass Market Paperback Verified Purchase
Story was exciting, lots of plot. Excellent work creating real characters participating in believable war time actions. James Clavell is an excellent author.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jorge Barbarosa on June 10 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Circa 1962 Clavell astounds the reader with his insight to the human condition. From the beginning until the end, King Rat never ceases to surprise and evoke the dark humor concurrent withthe grim reality of terrible circumstances. I remember seeing this book in countless rucks during Viet Nam, read and re-read, taped together, dog eared and in heavily stressed condition then, passed along.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By therosen on April 20 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
King Rat has many unique aspects amongst the other novels in the Asian saga:
- It was written first, with less connections to the rest of the series.
- It's the shortest of the lot.
- It's the most autobiographical, as Clavell spent time in that same prison.
- There is the least cross-cultural interaction.
Having said all of this, this WWII POW survival story is a compelling study of what people do to survive. In a sense, we all become rats, with one as king. Much of the book studies the manipulations between folks vying for power. There are the Americans trying to enforce prison standards. There are people living off of rank to hold a grasp of dignity. And then there is the King of the title, who finds a way to transcend above the problems, living off the black market and a network of informants.
We are introduced to the character that most closely resembles Clavell in this novel too. Though he reappears in Noble House, we first catch the author as the King's sidekick, a downed soldier who has to struggle with where his loyalties are.
I can not recommend the series enough. Whether you go through it chronologically as written, or in the order of time periods written about, you'll find this a deep addition to the series.
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By Len TOP 100 REVIEWER on May 1 2010
Format: Mass Market Paperback
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.
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Format: Hardcover
This novel's one of those a reader finds himself wondering whether he'd have enjoyed it as much if he'd seen the movie first. Probably it's best not to wonder. Steve McQueen made a great hero of the prison camp in the movie, but something was lost. A young man, an entepreneur, finds his element in a Japanese POW camp in Southeast Asia. He's a scrounger, a bargainer, a person who can get whatever anyone needs, wants, yearns for. He charges for it in labor, in goods, in money. All the other prisoners dispise him for what he's able to do, but use him.
This is a story of the human condition, of human weakness, human flaws and blame. Read the book, see the movie and allow yourself to feel the tragedy of a man who's doing what he does best, fills a needed function, earns the hatred and scorn of his betters, all in an environment that ends the day the Japanese surrender.
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By Tyler Tanner on Feb. 18 2004
Format: Mass Market Paperback
An American corporal manages to swindle and manipulate his way to being the "King" of a Japanese POW camp. The one thing that sets this aside from Clavell's three other novels that I have read, aside from being semi autobiographical is the protagonist. The King has a rascal like charm to him that makes the character highly readable and fun. He is the underdog. Plotting and conniving to make a buck and sticking it to his superiors and relishing it. A man in the right place at the right time. He befriends a British Lieutenant by the name of Marlowe (A nice little nod to Joseph Conrad) whose honor and integrity is arguably the the conflict in the book. Finally, on the opposite end of the spectrum, you have the dutiful yet pitful antagonist Lieutenant Grey. Who, while morally and lawfully in the right, alienates himself by taking himself too seriously. These three make for some great tension and are the main drive of the story.
I was pleasantly surprised to find that this was not an epic, despite this being his most personal story. However, Clavell fans will not be disappointed. The protagonist thinks two steps ahead of everyone else (I would hate to play chess with the author) and I would not be surprised if King's shrewdness was a precursor to Toranaga in Shogun. Any less qualified author would have made this story into glorified genre pulp. For those struggling for a visual reference, think Bridge on the River Kwai and Pappilon. A great read and highly recommended.
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