Alistair Urquhart’s “The Forgotten Highlander”

Synopsis: Urquhart’s “The Forgotten Highlander” covers the three years he spent in a Japanese POW camp.  Urquhart gives a modest, but chilling recollection of the events cast upon him by the Japanese, while being ordered to create the Burma Railway (Death Railway).  Part of this railway construction was turned into the feature film “The Bridge on the River Kwai”.

Urquhart wrote the book over the anger he felt towards the Japanese government for not admitting their atrocities in the second world war, unlike the atonement from Germany.

Outlook: I wrote in the synopsis that Urquhart was modest.  Perhaps, he wanted to make the reader more aware of Japanese war crimes, and not focus solely on what he and the hundreds thousands of others went through while constructing that railway.

Approximately 180,000 civilians were ordered to build this railway, and 60,000 prisoners of war.  100,000 Tomil’s alone died while under control the Japanese.

Urquhart paints a picture of torture, restrain, hardship, and perseverance, while again not going into too much detail.  The focus of the book was not to feel sorry for those who perished, but to make the reader aware of just what the Japanese did.

There are hundreds of books regarding the holocaust, the Nazi party, Germany, and both the Allied and Axis sides of the war.  I think people forget specifically about the far East, and focus most on Germany and the “Final Solution”.  Japan was almost an entirely new war.  Moreover, they were the only country to completely disregard the Geneva Convention.

I have a particular interest when it comes to biographies from WW2, and this 320 book took me less than two days to finish.  Urquhart was not only a fantastic human being, but is a terrific writer.

Urquhart also includes his time after the war, which always reminded me of the quote “everybody loves a soldier, until he comes home”.

If biography is your preferred read, or you want to know more about WW2, or simply try a new genre – this is a terrific start.

Urquhart recently passed away, on October 7th 2016.  He was 97.

Featured image courtesy of “WW2Today”


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