The Railway Man by Eric Lomax Review

the railway manThis book was recommended to me by my mother, who apparently sat down and got so immersed in this book that she said I HAD to read it. So I did. And, wow…there are absolutely no words I can find to describe how I felt, especially at the end. Disbelief? Shock? Utter admiration for that small sliver of humankind?

Eric Lomax, wrote an autobiographical book called ‘The Railway Man’ about his experiences as a prisoner of War during World War II. He especially focuses on his times having  been a prisoner for the Japanese military and being forced to build the Burma Railway.

There are graphic scenes about his torture and the emotional stress he went through during his time there, but the main core of the book that especially got me was the end of it. After having struggled with the repercussions of what happened to him, Eric Lomax is then faced by the translator of his interrogators who was present during his questioning and torture whom he decides to meet, full bent on hurting the man, only to then face him and forgive him and the two share one of the most touching and astonishing scenes I’ve ever read.


When I read autobiographies, especially ones dealing with difficult topics, I find myself struggling to come up with an objective way to review them. I don’t want to seem disrespectful but at the same time I want to seem honest and like this is my real point of view.

Eric Lomax, is an extremely courageous man who dealt with so many difficult and horrendous events that got thrown his way. He is also a man who is specific with exact dates and details and he attempts to be as precise as possible, especially in his descriptions about his early years and school years. I tended to skim over those paragraphs to be honest. I mean, I did read them…but I also didn’t really feel it was necessary to the core of the story at hand. It felt almost as if it was a distraction to avoid talking about the events that occurred in the prison camps.

When he did talk about it though, I couldn’t help but feel empathy towards him and everything that he went through. I mean, there’s not much I can ‘review’ about it, but his persistence and the way in which. in spite of everything, he pushed forward, made me admire and respect him so much.

The interrogation scene was a hard scene to read. I had to put it down after they tortured him because it was getting too difficult to process. How is it possible that people can treat other human beings like that?

I didn’t cry though. I didn’t cry for the whole book…up until the end. That scene where he meets the translator had me broken down in tears after the first meeting point. All that anger and determination to hurt this man who had done all these horrible things to him, disappeared after they talked. There is actually raw footage here on youtube of their actual meeting point from the documentary they made about him which I’ll link so you can see what I’m talking about. I was crying after seconds of that video.

My basic point to this review is that I really want to start reading more autobiographical books because I feel like even though I do enjoy the fantasy world and occasional YA novels, we live on a planet surrounded by billions of people who have their own lives and stories they want to share, so why shouldn’t I read them and gain knowledge from the choices and decisions they made?

Language/Style: 6 points
Plot: 9 points
Story: 7 points
Characters (People): 9 points

Giving this book a total of 31 points out of 40 points.

Favorite Part: The physical healing happens so fast; it is the rest that takes time.

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