KING RAT Hardcover – Feb 1 1983
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From Library Journal
King Rat is named after the central character in Clavell's spellbinding masterpiece about the brutality of prison camp life in Japanese-occupied, World War II Malaya. The King, an American corporal, seeks to dominate both captives and captors by his courage, profound insight into human frailties, and pragmatic American business techniques in a class-ridden society where Japanese and British actions are bound by bankrupt codes of "honor." The novel, originally published in 1962, is made more engrossing by flashbacks to the home front. Reader David Chase superbly transfers Clavell's genius as a writer to this superb audio. His skill lies in communicating the author's uproarious black humor and in his fabulous timing and phraseology. Highly recommended.
-James Dudley, Westhampton Beach, NY
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
“A magnificent novel.”—Washington Post
“A dramatic, utterly engrossing novel...harsh and brutal in its revelations...James Clavell is a spellbinding storyteller, a brilliant observer, a man who understands much and forgives much.” —New York Times
“Tension wound up to the snapping point.”—Christian Science Monitor
"Breathtaking....worth every word, every ounce, every penny."—Associated Press --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
- 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.
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
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.
The theme is how men survive in the horrendous conditions of POW camps. Set in one of the worst camps, Changi, near Singapore, an American corporal, called The King, thrives. He is street-smart, unscrupulous, the most powerful man among the 10,000 prisoners, and somewhat appealing in his vulnerability. The King is also honest -- at least about himself -- and the only other honest person in the book is his antagonist, the wretched, diarrhea-ridden British cop, Grey, who is attempting to rise above his lower-class origins. Most of the other British officers in the book are revealed to be vicious hypocrites.
The King and his callow, worshipful friend, a British pilot named Marlowe, outsmart everyone...but then the war ends, and the real world begins again. This is a good tale on several levels: adventure, survival, an insider's look at a Japanese POW camp, and an examination of the differences between Brits and Americans. The movie rates five stars. The book is almost there.
Most recent customer reviews
Not as good as the original King Rat. Too much sidetracking with the wives at home and such and not sticking to the story.Published 6 months ago by Harold Watkins
It is a historical novel. It is a powerful story of survival that unflolds within a Japanese war camp during WWII. It is an astonishing weave of raw emotions and motivation. Read morePublished 7 months ago by Karl_
Great book! This particular copy had a strange misprint resulting in about 100 pages to be slightly offset on the vertical ( e.g. Read morePublished 9 months ago by CanonSherpa
James Clavell's stunning book on the brutal life inside a Japanese prison war camp during WW2. Gritty and compelling, it the the story of how soldiers survive, the upper crust... Read morePublished 21 months ago by Carole P. Roman
I wish every first novels had such ambition, scope and gusto. KING RAT is about the manliest, most violently existential novel south of Hemingway. Read morePublished on Sept. 7 2014 by Benoit Lelievre
Story was exciting, lots of plot. Excellent work creating real characters participating in believable war time actions. James Clavell is an excellent author.Published on Dec 9 2013 by t123
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,... Read morePublished on May 1 2010 by Len