The Railway Man

The Railway Man - Eric Lomax

I've been talking about going to see the Railway Man in the cinema with friends but wanted to know more about it, so I thought I'd give the book a chance. That nice little plan also fits in with my endeavour to read more non-fiction this year. (It's not a challenge as such but I noticed that fiction occupies most of my shelves.)


Anyways... I'm so glad I read this. It is a remarkable story of perseverance, submission, anger, hate and forgiveness. 


The story tells of the author's life as POW working on the infamous Burma-Siam Death Railway and in Singapore and deals with the impact that the experience has made on him.


To be honest, I had not heard of Eric Lomax before and my picking up this book is purely due to the film release. So far, I have only read one other book which is set in similar circumstances - James Clavell's King Rat, which although fiction is based on Clavell's own experiences.


With respect to the story, I was amazed how much King Rat and The Railway Man intertwined: In King Rat, the characters detail the gruesome conditions of Changi prison, but count themselves lucky to be there and not in the Outram Road prison - because no one ever returns from Outram Road.

Lomax ends up  in Outram Road.

To him Changi means comfort and survival.


Also, King Rat touches on the same (or similar) events and story lines such as the dangers of building radio equipment, the slow starvation, the prevalence of disease. However, it is only after reading Lomax's account that the full horrors of the situation hit home - simply because his memoirs are not fiction. The Railway Man did exist. His experience was real.