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Building the Death Railway: The Ordeal of American Pows in Burma, 1942-1945
     

Building the Death Railway: The Ordeal of American Pows in Burma, 1942-1945

by Robert S. LaForte
 

The 'scar-winning movie 'Bridge Over the River Kwai' dramatized to millions the building of the infamous Japanese 'Death Railway' - the supply line for Japan's planned invasion of India during World War II. But the movie told only part of the story, giving the impression that all men working on the line were British. In fact, 668 Americans - serving on the USS

Overview

The 'scar-winning movie 'Bridge Over the River Kwai' dramatized to millions the building of the infamous Japanese 'Death Railway' - the supply line for Japan's planned invasion of India during World War II. But the movie told only part of the story, giving the impression that all men working on the line were British. In fact, 668 Americans - serving on the USS Houston and with the Texas National Guard's Second Battalion - worked alongside the other Allied troops in the jungle camps. In 'Building the Death Railway', their story is told for the first time. In 22 interviews with American survivors, we learn the details of their lengthy ordeal. Disease, punishment, camaraderie, work conditions and attempts to escape are described by the men who were there. The story begins with their capture and ends with their liberation 42 months later. The Burma-Thailand 'Death Railway' was one of the most horrible sentences a prisoner of war could endure. Thousands died in the jungles of Burma. More than 130 Americans - one man in five - never returned home, victims of neglect, abuse, starvation and disease. 'Building the Death Railway' gives the American perspective on events that shocked the world.

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The 22 survivors of Japanese prisoner-of-war camps represented here are either former crewmen aboard the U.S.S. Houston or members of the 133rd Field Artillery Battalion. All were incarcerated in the same camps throughout most of WW II. Tough, Depression-bred men, they recount their wartime experiences with fierce emotion but no self-pity despite extreme suffering. With virtually no medical care available, most contracted malaria, dysentery and tropical ulcers. All suffered prolonged starvation (one in five of the 688 Americans in the group portrayed died in captivity). Each survivor recounts the details of his capture, the claustrophobic voyage from the collection point in Java to the infamous Chagi Prison in Singapore, the slave-labor toil on the Burma-Thailand Railroad (an ordeal dramatized in the 1957 film Bridge on the River Kwai ), and their eventual liberation in 1945. The editors, who both teach history at the University of North Texas, offer enlightening speculation as to the reasons for Japanese cruelty toward POWs, and also on the relationship between the survival of these particular men and their Texas upbringing. (Dec.)

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780842024280
Publisher:
Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
Publication date:
01/01/1993
Pages:
328
Sales rank:
1,011,980
Product dimensions:
6.48(w) x 9.18(h) x 1.13(d)

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