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The Narrow Road to the Deep North A novel of the cruelty of war, and tenuousness of life and the impossibility of loveRichard Flanagan s story of Dorrigo Evans, an Australian doctor haunted by a love affair with his uncle s wife journeys from the caves of Tasmanian trappers in the early twentieth century to a crumbling pre war beachside hotel, from a Thai jungle prison to a Japanese snow festival, from the Changi gallows to a chance meeting of lovers on the Sydney Harbour BridgeTaking its title from th century haiku poet Basho s travel journal, The Narrow Road to the Deep North is about the impossibility of love At its heart is one day in a Japanese slave labour camp in AugustAs the day builds to its horrific climax, Dorrigo Evans battles and fails in his quest to save the lives of his fellow POWs, a man is killed for no reason, and a love story unfolds

  • Paperback
  • 467 pages
  • The Narrow Road to the Deep North
  • Richard Flanagan
  • English
  • 18 November 2019

About the Author: Richard Flanagan

Richard Flanagan born 1961 is an author, historian and film director from Tasmania, Australia He was president of the Tasmania University Union and a Rhodes Scholar Each of his novels has attracted major praise His first, Death of a River Guide 1994 , was short listed for the Miles Franklin Award, as were his next two, The Sound of One Hand Clapping 1997 and Gould s Book of Fish 2001 His earlier, non fiction titles include books about the Gordon River, student issues, and the story of conman John Friedrich.Two of his novels are set on the West Coast of Tasmania where he lived in the township of Rosebery as a child Death of a River Guide relates to the Franklin River, Gould s Book of Fish to the Macquarie Harbour Penal Station, and The Sound of One Hand Clapping to the Hydro settlements in the Central Highlands of Tasmania.



10 thoughts on “The Narrow Road to the Deep North

  1. says:

    I shall be a carrion monster, he whispered into the coral shell of her ear, an organ of women he found unspeakably moving in its soft, whorling vortex, and which always seemed to him to be an invitation to adventure I guess I m inviting haters and trolls by reviewing this much loved Booker Prize winner, but the eye rolls started somewhere halfway through chapter one and they just wouldn t stop.It makes me feel bad saying this about a book which was clearly inspired by the author s father sI shall be a carrion monster, he whispered into the coral shell of her ear, an organ of women he found unspeakably moving in its soft, whorling vortex, and which always seemed to him to be an invitation to adventure I guess I m inviting haters and trolls by reviewing this much loved Booker Prize winner, but the eye rolls started somewhere halfway through chapter one and they just wouldn t stop.It makes me feel bad saying this about a book which was clearly inspired by the author s father s own experiences on the Burma death railway How can you criticise a work that sets out to tell such an horrific story of war and violence But this book is drowning itself in its own pretentious language A woman s ear is an invitation to adventure Give me a break.If the story had been less dressed up with fancy trimmings, in my opinion it would have been better, had no Man Booker Prize, and sold far fewer copies Which is sad, really But I guess when you strip it down, The Narrow Road to the Deep North is yet another war story with plenty of gore and sadness it achieves differentiation by waxing poetic about life, love and ears.AndHe found her nipples wondrousOh, come on They Are Nipples They might be a lot of things, but wondrous Forgive me if I m somewhat skeptical Or perhaps I m just jealous and wish I had wondrous nipples I didn t realise it was something I was missing out on until now.Then there s Dorrigo Evans who, despite the flowery language and metaphors floating around, feels like a Gary Stu worthy of some YA books I ve read I just don t buy into his self deprecation He s like one of those people who is humble just so he can wait around to be applauded for being humble Like he fancies himself as a modern Socrates I know nothing Therefore I mintelligent than you because I know that I know nothing Let s all step out of the way and make room for Dorrigo s lack of ego.The Man Booker Prize is such a huge award that I m always intrigued by its winners, but I find myself liking them less and less Whatever they re being judged on is clearly not something I m looking to read.Oh well, there are thousands of positive reviews of this book if you want to go see why you should love it.Blog Facebook Twitter Instagram Tumblr

  2. says:

    I received this book for free from Bookworld in exchange for an honest review.This book Where do I even start The Narrow Road to the Deep North had such a profound impact on me I often had to stop mid sentence and contemplate everything this book, people, life I didn t even realise at first that it had drawn me in so deeply, but when I finished I was catatonic.Richard Flanagan is extremely talented He has such a way with words his style is so unassuming, but then I find myself needing t I received this book for free from Bookworld in exchange for an honest review.This book Where do I even start The Narrow Road to the Deep North had such a profound impact on me I often had to stop mid sentence and contemplate everything this book, people, life I didn t even realise at first that it had drawn me in so deeply, but when I finished I was catatonic.Richard Flanagan is extremely talented He has such a way with words his style is so unassuming, but then I find myself needing to take a step back from the book and just breathe for a moment Every single character is illustrated so vividly, and in such a short amount of time, that I found myself empathising with people that seem to have no sense of humanity Stunning Absolutely stunning One of the best books I have read Full review HERE

  3. says:

    Beware Richard Flanagan s new novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North His story about a group of Australian POWs during World War II will cast a shadow over your summer and draw you away from friends and family into dark contemplation the way only the most extraordinary books can Nothing since Cormac McCarthy s The Road has shaken me like this all theso because it s based on recorded history, rather than apocalyptic speculation.A finalist for this year s Man Booker Prize, The Nar Beware Richard Flanagan s new novel, The Narrow Road to the Deep North His story about a group of Australian POWs during World War II will cast a shadow over your summer and draw you away from friends and family into dark contemplation the way only the most extraordinary books can Nothing since Cormac McCarthy s The Road has shaken me like this all theso because it s based on recorded history, rather than apocalyptic speculation.A finalist for this year s Man Booker Prize, The Narrow Road to the Deeper North portrays a singular episode of manic brutality imperial Japan s construction of the Thailand Burma Death Railway in the early 1940s The British had long investigated this route, but they deemed the jungle impenetrable Once the Japanese captured Burma, though, its army needed aefficient resupply route, and so the impossible became possible in just over a year by using some 300,000 people as disposable labor Flanagan s late father was a survivor of that atrocity, which took the lives ofthan 12,000 Allied prisoners I had known for a long time that this was the book I had to write if I was to keep on writing, Flanagan said recently Other novels came and went as I continued to fail to write this one Those other novels that he refers to so modestly include his 2001 masterpiece, Gould s Book of Fish, which also dealt with the unfathomable abuse of prisoners But the horrors of that story about a 19th century convict kept in a partially submerged cage in Tasmania were leavened by ribald humor and a style so lush that the sentences seemed to send tendrils off the pages, which were printed in several different colors The Narrow Road to the Deep North sports none of that dazzling showmanship Its magic is darker andsubtle, its impactdevastating Here, Flanagan is writing about events that outstrip surrealism His quiet, unrelenting style is often unbearably powerful Not just an enlivened historical documentary or a corrective to Pierre Boulle s The Bridge over the River Kwai, this is a classic work of war fiction from a world class writer.The story casts its roving eye on 77 year old Dr Dorrigo Evans, a celebrated war hero whose life has been an unsatisfying string of sterile affairs and public honors He loved a woman once, but tragedy intervened, and since then each new award and commendation only makes Dorrigo feel undeserving and fraudulent Thehe was accused of virtue as he grew older, thehe hated it, Flanagan writes Virtue was vanity dressed up and waiting for applause Asked to write the introduction to a collection of once contraband sketches by one of the servicemen imprisoned with him in Siam, he begins to recall the experiences of that hellacious period.Flanagan has always bent time to his art in the most captivating ways His first novel, Death of a River Guide, played out the history of Tasmania in the few minutes it takes a man to drown The Narrow Road to the Deep North has acomplex, impressionistic structure as it moves fluidly forward and backward, changing perspectives and locales, keeping us mesmerized but never confused For many pages, the novel shimmers over the decades of Dorrigo s life, only flashing on the horrors of war and the ghosts who haunt him.But soon enough, that unspeakable period comes into focus in a series of blistering episodes you will never get out of your mind Assenior captured officers succumb to disease, Dorrigo finds himself placed in command of 700 sickly prisoners who he held, nursed, cajoled, begged, hoodwinked and organised into surviving, whose needs he always put before his own This character bears some resemblance to the Australian war hero Col Edward Weary Dunlop The hospital tent, equipped only with rags and saws, is a theater of magical thinking and unfathomable gore During one operation scene, I confess that I forced my eyes down the page in a blur.What stretches the story beyond the visceral pain it brings to life is the attention paid to these men as individuals, their pettiness and their courage, their acts of betrayal and affection, and their efforts to cling to trappings of civilization no matter how slight or futile The greatest burden and the one most affectingly portrayed is Dorrigo s moral conundrum Every morning he begins bargaining with his Japanese captors, who insist that dying for the emperor is an honor sufficient to raise his men from the shame of being captured Dorrigo must select the healthiest prisoners for that day s crushing labor But his men like a muddy bundle of broken sticks are starving, suffering from cholera, and, in the never ending rain, their ulcer covered bodies are rotting away The ceaseless torture described here is strikingly uncreative no water boarding, no electrodes, nothing from the Dick Cheney Handbook for Liberators Instead, the prisoners are simply kicked to death or beaten with bamboo poles to bloody mush Dorrigo must strive to save each one, knowing that, ultimately, he can t rescue any of them and that their deaths here in the jungle in service to an insane ambition mean nothing and will quickly be forgotten.Among the novel s most daring strategies is its periodic shift to the Japanese and Korean guards points of view both during and long after the war Flanagan pulls us right into the minds of these men raised on emperor worship, trained in a system of ritualized brutality and wholly invested in the necessity of their cause It s a harrowing portrayal of the force of culture and the way twisted political logic inflated by religious zeal can render obscene atrocities routine, even necessary The novel doesn t exonerate these war criminals, but it forces us to admit that history conspired to place them in a situation where cruelty would thrive, where the natural responses of human kindness and sympathy were short circuited And in its final move, the story makes us confront the conundrum of evil men who later become kind and gentle under the cleansing shower of their own denial How infinite are our ways of absolving ourselves, of rendering our crimes irrelevant, of mitigating the magnitude of others pain.Ultimately, though, the tale belongs to Dorrigo, whose heroism is never sufficient to satisfy his own ideals His ordeal as part of a Pharaonic slave system that had at its apex a divine sun king seems the kind of psychic injury that never heals, but Flanagan insists that the real source of the doctor s chronic despair is the loss of his one true love That s a mystery spun here in prose as haunting and evocative as the haiku by 17th century Japanese poet Basho that gives this novel its title No other author draws us into the strange, terrible neverendingness of human beings the way Flanagan does This review was first published in The Washington Post

  4. says:

    I ve read it I m in awe But now I don t want to talk about it ever again.

  5. says:

    I have mixed feelings about Richard Flanagan s The Narrow Road To The Deep North, the winner of the 2014 Man Booker Prize The book is obviously well researched It was inspired by the author s father s gruelling experiences as a POW working on the notorious Death Railway during WW2, in which starving and dying prisoners were forced by the Japanese to hack through the Burmese jungle and build a railway from Bangkok to Rangoon The novel took 12 years to finish Side note in interviews, Flana I have mixed feelings about Richard Flanagan s The Narrow Road To The Deep North, the winner of the 2014 Man Booker Prize The book is obviously well researched It was inspired by the author s father s gruelling experiences as a POW working on the notorious Death Railway during WW2, in which starving and dying prisoners were forced by the Japanese to hack through the Burmese jungle and build a railway from Bangkok to Rangoon The novel took 12 years to finish Side note in interviews, Flanagan said his father died the day the book was finished Touching, right It has all the hallmarks of a classy, literary, important work about love, war, good, evil, the endurance of the human spirit, etc etc handsome, tasteful cover enigmatic quotations including that hard to remember title from poets like Basho, Tennyson and Issa I had to look that last writer up that are meant to be deep and meaningful multiple shifts in time and place our protagonist is a boy remembering light now he s an old respected war hero and surgeon who sleeps with anything that breathes now he s a young doctor in love, although the woman he s shtupping is his uncle s much younger wife now he s a soldier in Siam Thailand now he s performing gruesome surgery on his fellow soldiers with crude instruments and no sanitation now, like Schindler from another Booker Award winning novel by an Australian , he s having to choose what prisoners get to live and die now he s living with the AFTERMATH OF ALL OF THE ABOVE multiple shifts in perspective okay, there s our main protagonist lover war hero conflicted family man, Dorrigo Evans there s also his band of soldiers, who sport hearty names like Darky Gardiner, Sheephead Morton and Tiny Middleton and each have one characteristic that makes them stand out oh yeah, plus we get to see through the beady eyes of the villainous, sadistic Japanese captors and a Korean guard, who of course all turn out to have their own fears and prejudices How democratic, and, ya know, fair of Flanagan, right So there s all of that And yetIt s also highly repetitive The shifts in time at the beginning areconfusing than effective The characters, even our flawed hero Dorrigo, remain utterly opaque There doesn t seem to be anything connecting him and his experiences with anything that happens later.While there are passages of intensity, vigour and simple, almost Hemingwayesque beauty a late scene in a fish restaurant brought me to tears with its understated power , there are also sections of clunky, overwritten, melodramatic and obvious prose And some of the descriptions of women are howlingly bad.There s also something contrived and self conscious about the novel, as if it were written with a big, prestigious, important movie adaptation in mind The Australian Patient I know I m in the minority here, and some of the book sharrowing scenes will, of course, stay with me I do recommend the book And perhaps I ll revisit it when that inevitable big budget film comes out

  6. says:

    The very best books don t just entertain, uplift or educate us They enfold us in their world and make us step outside of ourselves and become transformed And sometimes, if we re really lucky, they ennoble and affirm us.The Narrow Road to the Deep North is such a book Once I got past the first 60 or 70 pages, there was no turning back I turned the last page marveling at Mr Flanagan s skill and agreeing with historian Barbara Tuchman that, Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, s The very best books don t just entertain, uplift or educate us They enfold us in their world and make us step outside of ourselves and become transformed And sometimes, if we re really lucky, they ennoble and affirm us.The Narrow Road to the Deep North is such a book Once I got past the first 60 or 70 pages, there was no turning back I turned the last page marveling at Mr Flanagan s skill and agreeing with historian Barbara Tuchman that, Without books, history is silent, literature dumb, science cripples, thought and speculation at a standstill The Narrow Road is based on an actual event the building of the Thai Burma death railway in 1943 by POWs commanded to the Japanese The title comes from famed haiku poet Matsuo Basho s most famous work and sets up a truism of the human condition even those who can admire the concise and exquisite portrayal of life can become the agents of death.The key character, Australian surgeon Dorrigo Evans, is also a study in contradictions a man called Big Fella who protects those under his command from starvation, heinous deceases and senseless dehumanizing while struggling with his own demons The passages are haunting and heartbreaking the skeletal bodies covered in their own excretement, the bulging ulcers, the breaking of mind and spirit Yet Mr Flanagan does not depict these scenes to shock the reader Rather, he reveals the senselessness of it all Nothing endures Don t you see That s what Kipling meant Not empires, not memories We remember nothing Maybe for a year or two Maybe most of a life, if we live Maybe But then we will die, and who will ever understand any of this And later For an instant, he thought he grasped the truth of a terrifying world in which one could not escape horror, in which violence was eternal, the great and only verity, greater than the civilizations it created, greater than any god man worshipped Richard Flanagan implies again and again that only books and poems survive.One of the book s strengths is that it never resorts to us and them After depositing us in the midst of hell, he delivers us back to a post war world where Japanese and POWs alike struggle to justify and endure The only weakness is an overwrought love affair at the beginning of the book but to Richard Flanagan s credit, he doesn t take the easy way out in crafting its culmination.The dedication to prisoner san byaku san ju go 335 was so enticing I Googled it, only to find that the prisoner alluded to was actually Richard Flanagan s father As he states early on when describing the unofficial national war memorial commemorating the railroad, There are no names of the hundreds of thousands who died building the railway Their names are already forgotten There is no book for their lost souls Let them have this fragment Richard Flanagan does honor to these unsung heroes

  7. says:

    I m actually surprised that I didn t like this book, not so much because of the critical acclaim but because I have yet to see it get less than 5 stars from any of my Goodreads friends So I am clearly the odd one here, left proverbially scratching my head to figure out why my reaction is so divergent from those I usually agree with, and with similar taste for weighty historical fiction The author is talented, and there are some very powerful lines in the midst of detailed, gritty, historical r I m actually surprised that I didn t like this book, not so much because of the critical acclaim but because I have yet to see it get less than 5 stars from any of my Goodreads friends So I am clearly the odd one here, left proverbially scratching my head to figure out why my reaction is so divergent from those I usually agree with, and with similar taste for weighty historical fiction The author is talented, and there are some very powerful lines in the midst of detailed, gritty, historical realism But there is something missing for me, and as is typically the case when I don t fully connect with a book, it comes down to the characters While I pitied the characters in this work it would be hard not to, as they face torture and horror of every description constantly few of the men of the line stood out to me distinctly and even less were likable , and I had a hard time keeping them separate in my mind Also, I never grew attached to the main characters, and found myself mostly disliking both Dorrigo and Amy.This is a book filled to bursting with ugliness all the terrible traits of humanity, and all the ways we destroy and degrade and torment each other It gets incredibly gratuitous at times, and while I don t mind darkness and violence in historical fiction that warrants it, I did feel like the author was trying to use shock value and repulsive, minute detail as a too easy way to lend power and gravity to the book There was also something about the style of the writing that struck me as too contrived, like I could feel the author s desperation to be weighty and artsy, like a painting with all the strategic, careful brush stokes but missing something bigger Some of my favorite books wade just as deep into the horror of human experience A Fine Balance comes immediately to mind but with a complex beauty, too, which in my humble, and clearly unpopular opinion renders those worksauthentic power and depth

  8. says:

    Why at the beginning of things is there always light My head is full of a plethora of thoughts that, somehow, need to find their way into a text Or do they Probably not This must be one of the most difficult reviews I have chosen to write and this is not a cliche It s reality Difficult because how can one possibly describe the horrors brought about by monsters in one of the darkest eras of History that, sadly seems not too far away or lost in time Difficult because love and pain andWhy at the beginning of things is there always light My head is full of a plethora of thoughts that, somehow, need to find their way into a text Or do they Probably not This must be one of the most difficult reviews I have chosen to write and this is not a cliche It s reality Difficult because how can one possibly describe the horrors brought about by monsters in one of the darkest eras of History that, sadly seems not too far away or lost in time Difficult because love and pain and lose are feelings that cannot be easily turned into paragraphs or measured by phrases this is good , this is bad Difficult because no matter how hard I tried, no matter how mesmerizing the writing was at times, this book will not enter my favourites We failed to form any kind of connection.Dorrigo Evans is a surgeon in the Australian Army during the nightmare of the Second World War He and his regiment are now prisoners of war in a Japanese camp in Burma and the plague is quickly descending So he is needed by friends and enemies alike, because there is a bridge that needs to be built and it won t wait Dorrigo struggles to keep his men alive, physically and psychologically, and most of all, he tries to preserve his own will to live and not give up Because he started feeling dead long before he became a POW His mind travels back in time, to his younger days, and to the event that defined him and defeated himthan any other battle he had ever given His relationship with Amy, a young woman, his uncle s wifeA happy man has no past, while an unhappy man has nothing else Dorrigo is the most complex, interesting character in those pages He is a kind human being, considerate and brave He loves with all his heart, he fights to keep his men with him, but he is never happy He cannot find happiness, he feels that every joy is a fleeting moment for which he is somehow unworthy There were parts when I felt that Dorrigo had actually fallen victim to a weird notion of self depreciation, of self pity He was broken beyond repair But why For whom For Amy For himselfMy disgraceful, wicked heart , thought Amy, is braver than the world It seemed to me that Amy was the driving force of the story She is definitely a controversial character, but she provides life When I was reading Amy s POV, I was thinking that Flanagan had reserved the most beautiful language in this novel for her There is a calmness and a tenderness, a childish spirit that suits Amy, although we somehow feel that the storm is about to break, on many levels That the underlying terrors will soon become reality And even though, many may call her wicked , selfish or manipulative , for me she is the breath of life in the book.Flanagan provides many points of view Too many, in my opinion He divides the stories of the Australian and the Japanese characters almost equally and I found that this made the story significantly slower I appreciated the Haiku references and the fact that he didn t omit the enemy s voice, creating a highly balanced narration What I felt as a reader was that these characters weren t interesting enough to turn my mind away from Dorrigo and Amy s fate As simple as that They obviously served the purpose of the writer and I don t dare to presume as to what it was but they made me lose much of my initial connection to the story I admit I skimmed quite a few pages of the Japanese chapters I couldn t bring myself to care for them In addition, the part of the book set after the end of the war felt slow, flat and melodramatic.There were two things I deeply appreciated in the novel First, Flanagan s use of the question of morality was exceptional What is considered moral What of the feelings that are experienced by all of us and may come in utter contrast with issues like fidelity or bravery or mercy Especially in times of war when these things cease to matter The second was the way the horrors of the camp were depicted I found the chapters harrowing, haunting, raw, but not in any way disgusting or written for the sake of shock value In fact, a minor issue I had was that there were times when I thought he played it safe, choosing the easier road Sometimes, the situation called for language withpunch,tension There have been films and books about the subject that arenightmarish,realistic even.The writing was at times exceptionally poignant and darkly poetic Other times, I found it verbose, tiresome, melodramatic Apart from the interactions in the camp, I felt that the dialogue resembled the old 40s films Now, perhaps my stone hearted self has taken over once again , but in my opinion, dialogue such as this is a bit unrealistic and inconsistent with the powerful themes dealt with in the rest of the novel Keith and Ella s characters seemed copied out of cliches and I couldn t abide with this.My journey with this Booker Prize winner started in anticipation and excitement, but somehow, my way fell flat Yes, this is a special book, beautiful in a disturbing way However, when I skipped too many pages, when I felt nothing, no connection throughout the story, when I compare it to other war novels, I cannot bring myself to rate itthan 3 stars Will I recommend it to a friend Certainly Do I consider it memorable Yes But I do not think this is the best war novel ever written and certainly not one of the best books ever written It gave me nothing I hadn t read before

  9. says:

    This narrative was magnificent on so many levels.The structure told in present and past The themes love, loss, survival, good vs evil The history of a railroad being built in the deep jungles of Java Built by POWs with their bare hands as they staved off disease, starvation and brutal beatings The character a man so strong, so broken searching for the meaning in his life The language to feel the emotions attached to these characters Exquisite Authentic Undeniably devastating T This narrative was magnificent on so many levels.The structure told in present and past The themes love, loss, survival, good vs evil The history of a railroad being built in the deep jungles of Java Built by POWs with their bare hands as they staved off disease, starvation and brutal beatings The character a man so strong, so broken searching for the meaning in his life The language to feel the emotions attached to these characters Exquisite Authentic Undeniably devastating The relationships of these men what these soldiers endured and what they would do for each other The disruption and destruction of war on the soldiers, their families their lives.It is a story of survival Surviving the brutal ordeal of being captured and held prisoner in the deep, dark and dank jungle The acute starvation The mandated work to build a railway that defied being built The hopelessness the disease The heart breaking triumph of stealing food that only makes one ill.The devastation of war and the costs and sacrifices made.And the hope to find the world again with the goodness that once existed.This was one intense and difficult read My heart hurts.5

  10. says:

    For an instant he thought he grasped the truth of a terrifying world in which one could not escape horror, in which violence was eternal, the great and only verity, greater than the civilizations it created, greater than any god man worshipped, for it was the only true god It was as if man existed only to transmit violence to ensure its domain is eternal For the world did not change, this violence had always existed and would never be eradicated, men would die under the boot and fists and horFor an instant he thought he grasped the truth of a terrifying world in which one could not escape horror, in which violence was eternal, the great and only verity, greater than the civilizations it created, greater than any god man worshipped, for it was the only true god It was as if man existed only to transmit violence to ensure its domain is eternal For the world did not change, this violence had always existed and would never be eradicated, men would die under the boot and fists and horror of other men until the end of time, and all human history was a history of violence While reading this powerful novel about the Australian POWs during World War II, I couldn t help but fall victim to the same dark sentiment expressed above I may switch the television on to the news or read a headline in the newspaper and it does seem to fit The senseless violence in our own communities or in the world at large it seems to be a never ending cycle Flanagan rather bluntly depicts the brutality of beatings, starvation, horrific disease and gruesome deaths of the prisoners at the hands of their captors, the Japanese brandishing a wartime mentality and a pride for country in the service of their emperor Central to this story is Dorrigo Evans, an officer and a surgeon, one who could repeatedly betray his vows of marriage but could never forsake his men Dorrigo, as a human being, is an obviously flawed character He doesn t even believe in his own calling to lead men But, his men put their lives in his hands and never question his rank or his ability Forced under grueling and unbelievable conditions to build a railway for the Japanese through the rugged landscape of the Asian jungle, the POWs honor Dorrigo with their unwavering respect He never quite seems to grasp why they do soAs if rather than him leading them by example they were leading him through adulationBut, this is one key to survival finding something or someone in which to believe Without it, one would undoubtedly give up But what motivates Dorrigo to survive and carry on with his duties Well, of course, back home there exists his one true love a love that should be out of reach, but not for the ambitions of Dorrigo Evans Amy will wait for him when he returns from the war or won t she I think perhaps what I found to be the most compelling point of this novel was not the shocking events that we were obligated to witness in the camp itself, but the aftermath of the experience on all those involved, from the Japanese officers to the Korean guards to the Australian prisoners What did these men feel after the war sorrow, joy, guilt, or self contempt Would they be able to resume life as usual Would the captors atone for what they had done to the prisoners Well, in real life, we would probably see a range of outcomes, and that is exactly what Flanagan so masterfully recounts in these portions of the book Some would never quite understand the blame placed on them for their crimes against humanity, others would perhaps try to come to terms with their guilt and find peace in the end The POWs may block the evil from their minds and never turn back others may never find true happiness again, always searching for it in the wrong places Some would seek salvation in their family life others would emotionally neglect their families I should note here that this novel is not written in a chronological timeframe, but rather with constant shifts in time and also between multiple characters I have mixed feelings about this approach In one way I found this to detract a bit from my understanding of the book I often felt that perhaps I should go back and make sure I didn t miss something important at an earlier point in the book Since I didn t have all the information up front, could I not have read enough into certain passages at the beginning to take away what Flanagan was trying to say The prose was far from being cut and dry and maybe I missed some subtlety that initially did not seem to matter However, the shift in time did help break up some of thedisturbing scenes within these pages Just when I thought I could read noof a certain grisly event, the narrative would switch to another time, another person A little reprieve, if you will The only other little quibble that I had bears pointing out At times I felt it was overly dramatic, but in a visual sort of way Not in a way that added to my understanding of individual motives or to aid with characterization, but in a manner that perhaps was used to increase the shock value a bit I know others may not agree, as after all this is a book about a harrowing event in history and perhaps should be painted as such Overall, this book was excellent and one that I would not hesitate to recommend to others, as long as the reader is okay with some of thegraphic passages I learned a lot about another piece of World War II that I previously knew nothing about, and the author is clearly well versed on the subject There are great moments of superb writing and keen insight into the minds of men we would otherwise fail to penetrate In the end, when pondering life and death and why bad things happen to good people, why people can endure and survive such atrocities, only to later die a meaningless and senseless death, I have to agree with the POW Darky Gardiner s reflection,Life wasn t about ideas Life was a bit about luck Mostly though, it was a stacked deck Life was only about getting the next footstep right

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