Railway Man

Railway Man : A POW's Searing Account of War, Brutality and Forgiveness

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The passion for trains and railroads is, I have been told, incurable. I have also learned that there is no cure for torture. These two afflictions have been intimately linked in the course of my life, and yet through some chance combination of luck and grace I have survived them both I was born in Edinburgh, in the lowlands of Scotland, in 1919. My father was an official in the General Post Office there, a career which he had started as a boy of 16 and which he intended me to imitate to the letter. He was fascinated by telephony and telegraphy, and I grew up in a world in which tinkering and inventing and making were honoured past-times. I vividly remember the first time that my father placed a giant set of headphones around my ears and I heard, through the hiss and buzz of far-off-energies, a disembodied human voice In the worst times, much later, when I thought I was about to die in pain and shock at the hands of men who could not imagine anything of my life, who had no respect for who I was or my history, I might have wished that my father had had a different passion. But in the 1920s, technology was still powerful and beautiful without being menacing. Who would have thought that a radio, for example, could cause terrible harm? It seemed to be a wonderful instrument by which people could speak to each other; and yet I heard Hitler ranting over airwaves, and saw two men beaten to death for their part in making such an instrument, and suffered for my own part in it for a half a century.show more

Product details

  • Paperback | 292 pages
  • 149.86 x 228.6 x 20.32mm | 385.55g
  • WW Norton & Co
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0393334988
  • 9780393334982
  • 151,728

Review quote

" An extraordinary story of torture and reconciliation -- I turned the last page weeping tears of sorrow, pride and gratitude." -- John McCarthyshow more

Flap copy

Winner of the 1996 NCR Book Award A naive young man, a radio enthusiast and radio buff, was caught up in the fall of the British Empire at Singapore in 1942. He was put to work on the Railway of Death -- the Japanese line from Thailand and Burma. The most disastrous engineering project in history, it killed 250,000 Allied prisoners and Thai labourers. Lomax helped to build a radio so that he and his comrades could follow news of the war. The radio was discovered and he was brutally tortured. One of his tormentors was a young Japanese interpreter; Lomax never forgot him. Despite an outwardly successful life, Lomax was emotionally ruined by his experiences and could never share them with anyone. Almost fifty years after the war, his life was changed by the discovery that his interrogator, the Japanese interpreter, was still alive. This is the story of a tragic life and a transformed old age.show more