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.