5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent war-time story
Story was exciting, lots of plot. Excellent work creating real characters participating in believable war time actions. James Clavell is an excellent author.
Published 11 days ago by t123
3.0 out of 5 stars NOT AS COMPELLING AS IT SHOULD BE
This is my first James Clavell novel. In a nutshell, it is a Japanese version of Stalag 17. It is the story of American, British, and Australian POW's at Changi prison camp. A place where the real world is turned completely upside down. In addition to being prisoners, the POW's find their ranks are meaningless. Devoid of societal/military rules "the strong"...
Published on Oct. 14 2003 by Jeff Howard
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent war-time story,
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This review is from: King Rat (Mass Market Paperback)Story was exciting, lots of plot. Excellent work creating real characters participating in believable war time actions. James Clavell is an excellent author.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A great study of the human psyche,
This review is from: King Rat (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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5.0 out of 5 stars The black sheep of the saga,
This review is from: King Rat (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.
5.0 out of 5 stars A multilayered masterpiece,
This review is from: King Rat (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.
5.0 out of 5 stars A prison camp and an opportunity,
This review is from: KING RAT (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.
4.0 out of 5 stars Great adventure,
This review is from: King Rat (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.
5.0 out of 5 stars ANGER AND NOSTALGIA,
This review is from: King Rat (Mass Market Paperback)There we go again, after Shogun this is my second book by clavell. The best thing about the book is that the author did not try to justify the war. Japs were not the villains. Its was something bigger....situations...the situation,time was the biggest enemy. Just how mean people can get when the find themselves in bad situations. it is quiet true people can actually forget that they are fighting for the good side when it comes to saving their lifes.
Mr clavel who actually went through all this, has written the book with an emotion (cant tell axactly is it anger or nostalgia)
The book is a must read for every book lover
5.0 out of 5 stars No doubt breath-taking,
This review is from: King Rat (Paperback)An amazing story, so vivid it seems like Mr. Clavell transcribed a true story. Very real, thought-provoking. This is my first Clavell novel (although I did watch all of Shogun on DVD) and have to say I'll be reading more of his in the near future.
I liked the texture, the rawness of it all. A story of poor, helpless prisoners who create their own little 'society' if you will, in this war camp in South East Asia. Imagine having to eke it out in those conditions.
Overall, this book kept me glued and it hasn't aged a day...
3.0 out of 5 stars NOT AS COMPELLING AS IT SHOULD BE,
This review is from: King Rat (Mass Market Paperback)This is my first James Clavell novel. In a nutshell, it is a Japanese version of Stalag 17. It is the story of American, British, and Australian POW's at Changi prison camp. A place where the real world is turned completely upside down. In addition to being prisoners, the POW's find their ranks are meaningless. Devoid of societal/military rules "the strong" survive. #1 is "the King," an American corporal who runs the prison camp from the inside.
The King effectively manipulates everyone in the camp from Colonels on down, through his payroll system. If you want money, eggs, cigarettes, medicine, you have to see the King. If you want to sell something, everyone knows you go through the King.
Suspense is derived from the near misses of getting caught by the Japanese or the pip-squeak MP, Captain Grey. Grey's sole motivation is catching the King "breaking the rules." Much of the action is seen through the eyes of Peter Marlowe, an affable English lieutenant to whom the King takes a liking due to his command of the local language and it's value to the King in trading and conversing with the guards.
The King teeters on the edge of good and evil throughout the book, never completely falling off the fence to either side. Under the circumstances, the reader tends to forgive the King's "business" dealings over this lack of compassion for the suffering around him. But when the suffering befalls Marlowe, the King reacts as a true friend and saves Marlowe's arm from amputation.
The finale is somewhat ambiguous and anticlimactic. The man who was once on top, the King, is reduced to a lowly corporal again and the many officers and outranking enlisted men are quick to see the King put back into his place when they are rescued and order is restored.
The books is adequate at best as there are no major conflicts or plot twists. But it is one of the few books telling the story of a Japanese POW camp.
5.0 out of 5 stars crazy fellow,
This review is from: King Rat (Mass Market Paperback)king rat was set in changi, singapore.. it's a breath taking novel by james clavell.. its my first clavell's novel and already it has left an amazing impression for me.. it focuses on our life and what we have to do to live by using your brain.. it shows the inner character of human beings.. how human beings react when they have nothing and they even eat dog's meat to fulfill their hunger.. its a bit funny too.. the book shows the king's brainstorm and how he survived and how he was fit and fine ithe camp while everybody was in a miserable condition.. it doesnt matter how you achieve ur goal or how you get the things u wanted.. but what matter is that you've got it...
its a fantastic book and it reflects the miserable POW camp during the second world war
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King Rat by James Clavell (Mass Market Paperback - Sept. 1 1986)
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