Book Review: The Railway Man



WORDS | Ben Nour

Recently adapted into a film, The Railway Man is a powerful and confronting autobiography by former British prisoner of war, Eric Lomax. Recruited to the army at the outbreak of war in 1939, Eric is sent to Scotland for training before his placement in India and Singapore.

It is in Singapore that Eric is taken prisoner following the surrender of the city-state to Japan, and in arduous detail he describes his long imprisonment, the torture he and his fellow prisoners receive at the hands of their captors, and his work on the Burma Railway.

Following the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and the end of World War II, Eric is released but suffers from psychological trauma from his many years of imprisonment. Decades after his release, Eric nurtures a deep-seated hatred of his torturers and by a series of strange coincidences; he discovers that one of his torturers is still alive. It’s this confrontation that is perhaps the most moving and powerful moment of Eric’s journey.

Well written and engaging, this novel is a moving account of Eric Lomax’s life, and a man’s ability to overcome tragedy.