First novel (released 1962) by author James Clavell and fourth in the timeline of The Asian Saga.

King Rat takes place in the notorious, Japanese controlled Changi prison POW camp located in Singapore late in the second world war. The story revolves around a group of yanks, limeys, and aussies, struggling to survive in a truly harsh environment. Fear, hunger, hopelessness, and death surround them. It's an observation of a person's ability to evolve and change with his environment, no matter how bad it may be.

A little known fact about James Clavell is that he himself was in this POW camp for several years. The road prison in the story did exist. Statistically, only one man in 15 survived their stay. This makes the novel all the more horrifying, and (sadly) interesting.

The title to King Rat is more apt and appropriate than that of any other book that I've read. Behind Shogun, this is his best novel.

Head of the Water Rats organisation

Every so often, a soul is born who encapsulates good, goodness and greatness. Given that I aspire to this state of being, I am ever impressed by anyone who has that nature already. Consequently, from childhood on, I found pleasure in reading of those of heroic stature, trying to glean from their lives some clue that would help me to improve mine, and by nature, myself. I found them in many places - Douglas Bader, heroic for overcoming disability, Donald Campbell who had the grit and ingenuity to break speed records, Ghandi, whose goodness and pacifism gave me something to aim for.

Then there were lesser heroes, not heroes in the traditional sense, but heroes of social nature. Patrick Moore was one such, a man who stood out as being different, interesting, and above all, personable. The world of entertainment is not given to creating traditional heroes, but when people in the limelight step out to do good, then they are heroes of the first water, in my book. Such is the nature of those men who have become King Rat.

Not to be confused with a Rat King (which is a tail-tangled mess of regular rats), the King Rat is the titular head of the British charitable organisation Grand Order of Water Rats. Generally, they are people who are pretty well-known to the public - past King Rats include such worthies as:

Okay, so you do not recognise them. This may be because you are a) Not British or b) Too Young. Neither is your fault.

It's a shame that in this enlightened age, there are no women in this list. This is because entry to the Water Rats is limited to long-standing male members of the entertainment business. I long for the first Queen Rat, but in the meantime as a good recorder, I pass on the only other piece of information available; they are elected for a period of one year, although they can be elected for another term.

They serve out of genuine charity, the caritas of the Vulgate Bible's definition of love in 1 Corinthians 13, giving of themselves that others may live better. Heroes all, I salute you.


It is also worth noting that James Clavell's novel was filmed in 1965 by Bryan Forbes, and starred:

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