Long Way Back to the River Kwai: Memories of World War II

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Overview

A searing memoir of World War II, this is the story of one man's survival of the brutal slave-labor conditions that inspired the classic book and film Bridge over the River Kwai. Loet Velmans was seventeen in 1940 when the Germans invaded his native Holland. He and his family immediately made a daring escape to London, just barely managing to board the only refugee boat to leave from their local harbor. Once in London, however, they decided to relocate to the Far East, further from Hitler's reach. Only dimly ...
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1st Edition, Fine/Fine- DJ rear cover lightly rubbed, o.w. clean, bright & tight. No ink names, tears, chips, foxing etc. Price unclipped. ISBN 1559707062

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Long Way Back to the River Kwai: Memories of World War II

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Overview

A searing memoir of World War II, this is the story of one man's survival of the brutal slave-labor conditions that inspired the classic book and film Bridge over the River Kwai. Loet Velmans was seventeen in 1940 when the Germans invaded his native Holland. He and his family immediately made a daring escape to London, just barely managing to board the only refugee boat to leave from their local harbor. Once in London, however, they decided to relocate to the Far East, further from Hitler's reach. Only dimly aware of the aggressive Japanese Pacific campaign, they sailed to the Dutch East Indies -- now Indonesia -- where Loet joined the army. In March 1942 the Japanese invaded the archipelago and conquered it in a week. Along with all local Dutch soldiers, Loet was sent to Changi, a prison in Singapore built for 600, but now housing 10,000. Despite dire shortages and overcrowding, Loet discovered a resourcefulness he hardly knew he possessed, acclimating to the harsh conditions and forming bonds of cooperation with British, American, Dutch, and Australian POWs, all trying to endure the increasingly cruel and inhuman behavior of their Japanese captors.

Over the next three and a half years Loet and his fellow POWs were shipped "up country" to a series of slave labor camps, where they were forced to build a railroad through the dense jungle on the Burmese-Thailand border. The Japanese planned to use the railroad to invade and conquer India. Completely ignoring the Geneva Convention regulations for the treatment of POWs, the guards forced Loet and his fellow captives to build this "Railroad of Death," as it came to be called, in an unreasonable eighteen months, stretching some three hundred miles through impossible jungle. More than 200,000 POWs and slave laborers died over the course of the backbreaking work. Loet, though suffering from malaria, dysentery, malnutrition, and unspeakable mistreatment, never gave up hope, and ultimately survived to tell his tale. Almost sixty years later he returned to Thailand, to revisit the place where he should have died, and to walk across the ground where he had personally buried his closest friend. Out of that emotional visit came this gripping account of survival under appalling conditions, a book that will take its place as a classic beside The Diary of Anne Frank, Bridge over the River Kwai, and Edith's Story.

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Editorial Reviews

The Washington Post
It is good that by the 1970s extensive business dealings in Japan had taught Velmans that "there was no longer any reason to think of the Japanese as the bad guys," but it is also good that he has the honesty to say, "I never lost my compulsion to keep a wary eye on them." To harbor such feelings has nothing to do with racism and everything to do with the brutal legacy of war. This candid, understated book is a useful contribution to our understanding of that essential truth. —Jonathan Yardley
Booklist

Exceeding readable . . .

Simon Winchester
“Well-remembered and impeccably written . . . [A] most wonderful book.”
Washington Post Book World
“This candid, understated book is a useful contribution to our understanding of an essential truth.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781559707060
  • Publisher: Arcade Publishing
  • Publication date: 10/28/2003
  • Edition description: 1ST
  • Pages: 240
  • Product dimensions: 5.75 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.87 (d)

Meet the Author

Loet Velmans came to America after World War II, where he worked for and became CEO of public relations firm Hill and Knowlton. His wife, Edith Velmans, is the acclaimed author of Edith’s Story. They divide their time between New York City and Sheffield, Massachusetts.
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Table of Contents

Maps vi

Reflections 1

Prologue 7

1 Boyhood 21

2 Escape 37

3 Refuge 51

4 Prison 81

5 Death Camp 129

6 Recovery 167

7 Renascence 187

Epilogue 211

Acknowledgments 235

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 3
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Sort by: Showing all of 5 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 13, 2014

    I Also Recommend:

    I thoroughly enjoyed the book Long Way Back to the River Kwai: M

    I thoroughly enjoyed the book Long Way Back to the River Kwai: Memories of World War II. Loet Velmans is an excellent author. He vividly describes life as Prisoner of War. It is an awe-inspiring book filled with hope.

    1 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 26, 2014

    Ellen

    I will be a twin

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 25, 2014

    To joey

    For what? We wont rape babies for sure. Maybe boys but not girls... urs zoey and leila

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 27, 2014

    Joey to ellen

    She got a abort<ph>ion

    0 out of 1 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted November 19, 2012

    B&N Shipping exceptionally SLOW

    It took B&N over a month to ship

    0 out of 2 people found this review helpful.

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