Tuesday, April 23, 2013

POWs & Clavell's King Rat

From April 11th's BBC article, "Medal of Honor for US Army chaplain Father Kapaun:"
An Army chaplain who saved the lives of fellow US soldiers before perishing in a North Korean prison camp has been awarded a posthumous US Medal of Honor...
In the official Medal of Honor citation, Kapaun is hailed for staying behind at the battle of Unsan to tend to wounded comrades when Chinese soldiers overran the American position...
After their capture, Kapaun and wounded soldiers able to walk were marched to a prison camp near Pyoktong, just south of the Yalu River in North Korea. During the march and his time at the camp, Kapaun helped carry wounded men, bathed them and washed their clothes, stole food for his fellow prisoners and held secret prayer services in defiance of the Communist camp officials.
He contracted dysentery and pneumonia, and after months in near-freezing and starving conditions, Kapaun died in late May 1951 at the age of 35.
For a novel about POWs, try King Rat by James Clavell (who himself was a prisoner of war in WWII):
The time is World War II. The place is a brutal prison camp deep in Japanese-occupied territory. Here, within the seething mass of humanity, one man, an American corporal, seeks dominance over both captives and captors alike. His weapons are human courage, unblinking understanding of human weaknesses, and total willingness to exploit every opportunity to enlarge his power and corrupt or destroy anyone who stands in his path.

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