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One Fourteenth Of An Elephant


One Fourteenth Of An Elephant

2.3 (1845)

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    Available in PDF Format | One Fourteenth Of An Elephant.pdf | English
    Ian Denys Peek(Author)
In February 1942, Singapore fell to the Japanese. Denys Peek and his brother were just two of tens of thousands of British and Commonwealth soldiers and citizens taken prisoner.
Eight months later, he and his comrades were packed into steel goods wagons and transported by rail to Siam. They were to become part of the slave labour force destined for the massive construction project that would later become infamous as the Burma Thailand Railway. He would spend the next three years in over fifteen different work and 'hospital' camps on the railway, stubbornly refusing to give in and die in a place where over 20,000 prisoners of war and uncounted slave labourers met their deaths.
Narrated in the present tense and written with clarity, passion and a remarkable eye for detail, Denys Peek has vividly recreated not just the hardships and horrors of the railway and the daily struggle for survival but also the comradeship, spirit and humour of the men who worked on it. It stands as a haunting, evocative and deeply moving testimony to the suffering of those who lived and died there - a salutary reminder of man's potential for inhumanity to his fellow man.

"'May become one of the great epics of our time.'" (SUN-HERALD)"'A triumph of memory and passion.'" (WEEKEND AUSTRALIAN)"'Denys Peek has forged a diamond out of the terrible degradation of the past.'" (MELBOURNE AGE)"'Brutally frank and beautifully moving.'" (ADELAIDE ADVERTISER)

2.5 (4424)
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Book details

  • PDF | 688 pages
  • Ian Denys Peek(Author)
  • Bantam (28 Feb. 2011)
  • English
  • 9
  • History
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Review Text

  • By Mike Higgins on 11 November 2004

    Like most people of my generation, I thought I knew all about the Burma Railway and the privations of the POW's that worked on it as slave labour. But now, having read this excellent new book, I realise I never knew the half of it. Mr Peek has written a warts and all account of his time spent building this railway, that the Japanese thought was so important to their quest to conquer all of South East Asia. They were unbelievably brutal to the POW's. Most of the 1000's of deaths occurred from neglect. The POW's were fed what amounted to starvation rations and consequently came down with every tropical disease in the book. The Japanese offered no medical facilities whatsoever. Mr Peek pulls no punches when he talks about his Japanese captors. His language may not seem to be terribly politically correct these days, especially 60 years after the event, but his account would seem to be honest. When you reach the end of this book its easy to see why so many of his generation can never forgive or forget. A special hatred was reserved for the British and Allied Officers, captured during the fall of Singapore. Whilst the men under their command were being brutalised on a day-to-day basis, the Officers, with a few notable exceptions, were content to stay aloof and did absolutely nothing to help. 1000's of men were reduced to wearing nothing more than a makeshift loincloth, but the Officers strutted around in carefully looked after, parade-ground standard spotless uniforms. Harrowing though this account of the Burma Railway is, it is curiously uplifting in a way, because the author shows how the human spirit can rise above almost everything that life can throw at it. I can thoroughly recommend this book to anyone who would like to learn the truth about the situation in South East Asia during WW2.

  • By P. J. Berry on 4 June 2014

    this book tells it as it was on the death railway. a book all should read, starting with schoolchildren who should be aware of all that happened in ww2.

  • By DES on 12 July 2015


  • By Debbielloyd on 18 December 2005

    I picked up this book by chance and really had no idea what it was going to be about , it was the title that caught me ! I ended up walking around the house reading it ~literally ! It is an account of his time as a Prisoner ( or should it be Slave ? ) of War in Burma and Siam. He was put to work with thousands of others in building the infamous Burma railway. How he survived I do not know. How he kept his spirits high, I shall never understand.The circumstances and conditions in which they were kept defies belief. Written in a diary format, it kept me gripped until the very last page. I too would recommend it as History reading for School children.

  • By Dianne Cowling on 18 October 2015

    A true story of heroic perseverance in the face of unwarranted violence and cruelty yet Ian Denys and his brother never loose hope nor their humanity and determination to help those less fortunate than themselves at great personal cost. An amazing story of courage and heroism in the face of such evil. A privilege to read, harrowing to know and still waiting for acknowledgement of the wrong that was done to so many by so few.

  • By Panther on 8 September 2004

    Although many of the author's experiences, which are vividly described in the present tense, are repeated, the book cannot be considered long-winded or repetitive because it is chock full with moving and absorbing anecdotes of both the author's and fellow POWs' usually dreadful (but sometimes amusing) stories. Although this is a long book, I could not help wanting to turn the next page and find out more of this gripping tale. No reader can remain a disinterested observer; the treatment of POWs described herein is too shocking not to engender anger and astonishment at the barbaric behaviour of Japanese and Korean soldiers.

  • By Barbara Steward on 30 April 2005

    This book was brilliantly harrassing, I wanted to be able to go offer the prisoners food and medicine, such were the vivid descriptions of deprivation. The tenacity of those young men wouldn't go amiss in todays society and how Denys Peek survived is a miracle, he must have had a wonderful constitution and strong mental health. I was very surprised at the officers behaviour.."I'm alright Jack mode" and very glad to be enlightened.This book should be compulsory reading in schools, with its vivid descriptions and tons of truth about dreadful happenings.

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