‘The Railway Man’: Five Reasons to Read Eric Lomax’s Harrowing PoW Account

‘The Railway Man’ is Eric Lomax’s autobiographical tale of survival and heroism as a prisoner of war in Singapore during World War Two. It’s harrowing but something that should be experienced, and here’s why…


  1. It’s real: there’s no plea for sympathy, it’s not being told because Lomax wants the world to weep for him. No, this story is written for the sake of letting us know what history often misses, and as an act of healing for a man who has struggled to cope with the unthinkable for years.
  2. It’s not the taught thing: who has a knowledge of World War Two outside of Europe and America? Pearl Harbour is probably the most popularised knowledge of events beyond the Western Front, and I myself have to admit I knew very little about Japan’s involvement in hostilities. Why shouldn’t this area of heroism and bravery be memorialised?
  3. The language: it’s an old guard sort of expression that haunts every page; I think my favourite came towards the end with a reference to a beautiful memories to barbarism.
  4. You won’t stop when the book is finished: it’s addictive. It’s a search for knowledge and understanding from the word ‘go’, and you can’t help but need more when it finishes.
  5. It’s not just about war: the end is perhaps a highlight. Beyond the war, beyond the conflict, there’s a life that Lomax had to return to and attempt to live, despite a lack of understanding and comfort provided on the Home Front.


Get reading – it’s a journey that leaves you angry, terrified and upset, but more importantly reminds us that the war wasn’t just a battlefield in France – lest we forget.


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