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King Rat par [Clavell, James]
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King Rat Format Kindle

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Longueur : 370 pages Word Wise: Activé Composition améliorée: Activé
Page Flip: Activé Langue : Anglais

Description du produit

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Chapter One


“I’m going to get that bloody bastard if I die in the attempt.” Lieutenant Grey was glad that at last he had spoken aloud what had so long been twisting his guts into a knot. The venom in Grey’s voice snapped Sergeant Masters out of his reverie. He had been thinking about a bottle of ice-cold Australian beer and a steak with a fried egg on top and his home in Sydney and his wife and the breasts and smell of her. He didn’t bother to follow the lieutenant’s gaze out the window. He knew who it had to be among the half-naked men walking the dirt path which skirted the barbed fence. But he was surprised at Grey’s outburst. Usually the Provost Marshal of Changi was as tight-lipped and unapproachable as any Englishman.

 “Save your strength, Lieutenant,” Masters said wearily, “the Japs’ll fix him soon enough.” 

“Bugger the Japs,” Grey said. “I want to catch him. I want him in this jail. And when I’ve done with him—I want him in Utram Road Jail.” Masters looked up aghast. “Utram Road?” 

“Certainly.” 

“My oath, I can understand you wanting to get him,” Masters said, “but, well, I wouldn’t wish that on anyone.” 

“That’s where he belongs. And that’s where I’m going to put him. Because he’s a thief, a liar, a cheat and a bloodsucker. A bloody vampire who feeds on the rest of us.” 

Grey got up and went closer to the window of the sweltering MP hut. He waved at the flies which swarmed from the plank floors and squinted his eyes against the refracted glare of the high noon light beating the packed earth. “By God,” he said, “I’ll have vengeance for all of us.” 

Good luck, mate, Masters thought. You can get the King if anyone can. You’ve got the right amount of hate in you. Masters did not like officers and did not like Military Police. He particularly despised Grey, for Grey had been promoted from the ranks and tried to hide this fact from others. 

But Grey was not alone in his hatred. The whole of Changi hated the King. They hated him for his muscular body, the clear glow in his blue eyes. In this twilight world of the half alive there were no fat or well-built or round or smooth or fair-built or thick-built men. There were only faces dominated by eyes and set on bodies that were skin over sinews over bones. No difference between them but age and face and height. And in all this world, only the King ate like a man, smoked like a man, slept like a man, dreamed like a man and looked like a man. 

“You,” Grey barked. “Corporal! Come over here!” 

The King had been aware of Grey ever since he had turned the corner of the jail, not because he could see into the blackness of the MP hut but because he knew that Grey was a person of habit and when you have an enemy it is wise to know his ways. The King knew as much about Grey as any man could know about another. 

He stepped off the path and walked towards the lone hut, set like a pimple among sores of other huts. 

“You wanted me, sir?” the King said, saluting. His smile was bland. His sun glasses veiled the contempt of his eyes. 

From his window, Grey stared down at the King. His taut features hid the hate that was part of him. “Where are you going?” 

“Back to my hut. Sir,” the King said patiently, and all the time his mind was figuring angles—had there been a slip, had someone informed, what was with Grey? 

“Where did you get that shirt?” 

The King had bought the shirt the day before from a major who had kept it neat for two years against the day he would need to sell it for money to buy food. The King liked to be tidy and well-dressed when everyone else was not, and he was pleased that today his shirt was clean and new and his long pants were creased and his socks clean and his shoes freshly polished and his hat stainless. It amused him that Grey was naked but for pathetically patched short pants and wooden clogs, and a Tank Corps beret that was green and solid with tropic mold. 

“I bought it,” the King said. “Long time ago. There’s no law against buying anything—here, anywheres else. Sir.” 

Grey felt the impertinence in the “Sir.” “All right, Corporal, inside!” 

“Why?” 

“I just want a little chat,” Grey said sarcastically. 

The King held his temper and walked up the steps and through the doorway and stood near the table. “Now what? Sir.” 

“Turn out your pockets.” 

“Why?” 

“Do as you’re told. You know I’ve the right to search you at any time.” Grey let some of his contempt show. “Even your commanding officer agreed.” 

“Only because you insisted on it.” 

“With good reason. Turn out your pockets!” 

Wearily the King complied. After all, he had nothing to hide. Hand - kerchief, comb, wallet, one pack of tailor-made cigarettes, his tobacco box full of raw Java tobacco, rice cigarette papers, matches. Grey made sure all pockets were empty, then opened the wallet. There were fifteen American dollars and nearly four hundred Japanese Singapore dollars.

“Where did you get this money?” Grey snapped, the ever-present sweat dripping from him. 

“Gambling. Sir.” 

Grey laughed mirthlessly. “You’ve a lucky streak. It’s been good for nearly three years. Hasn’t it?” 

“You through with me now? Sir.” 

“No. Let me look at your watch.” 

“It’s on the list—” 

“I said let me look at your watch!” 

Grimly the King pulled the stainless steel expanding band off his wrist and handed it to Grey. 

In spite of his hatred of the King, Grey felt a shaft of envy. The watch was waterproof, shockproof, self-winding. An Oyster Royal. The most priceless possession of Changi—other than gold. He turned the watch over and looked at the figures etched into the steel, then went over to the atap wall and took down the list of the King’s possessions and automatically wiped the ants off it, and meticulously checked the number of the watch against the number of the Oyster Royal watch on the list. 

“It checks,” the King said. “Don’t worry. Sir.” 

“I’m not worried,” Grey said. “It’s you who are to be worried.” He handed the watch back, the watch that could bring nearly six months of food. 

The King put the watch back on his wrist and began to pick up his wallet and other things. 

“Oh yes. Your ring!” Grey said. “Let’s check that.” 

But the ring checked with the list too. It was itemed as A gold ring, signet of the Clan Gordon. Alongside the description was an example of the seal. “How is it an American has a Gordon ring?” Grey had asked the same question many times. 

“I won it. Poker,” the King said. 

“Remarkable memory you’ve got, Corporal,” Grey said and handed it back. He had known all along that the ring and the watch would check. He had only used the search as an excuse. He felt compelled, almost masochistically, to be near his prey for just a while. He knew, too, that the King did not scare easily. Many had tried to catch him, and failed, for he was smart and careful and very cunning. 

“Why is it,” Grey asked harshly, suddenly boiling with envy of the watch and ring and cigarettes and matches and money, “that you have so much and the rest of us nothing?” 

“Don’t know. Sir. Guess I’m just lucky.” 

“Where did you get this money?” 

“Gambling. Sir.” The King was always polite. He always said “Sir” to officers and saluted officers, English and Aussie officers. But he knew they were aware of the vastness of his contempt for “Sir” and saluting. It wasn’t the American way. A man’s a man, regardless of background or family or rank. If you respect him, you call him “Sir.” If you don’t, you don’t, and it’s only the sons of bitches that object. To hell with them! 

The King put the ring back on his finger, buttoned down his pockets and flicked some dust off his shirt. “Will that be all? Sir.” He saw the anger flash in Grey’s eyes. 

Then Grey looked across at Masters, who had been watching nervously. “Sergeant, would you get me some water, please?” 

Wearily Masters went over to the water bottle that hung on the wall. “Here you are, sir.” 

“That’s yesterday’s,” Grey said, knowing it was not. “Fill it with clean water.” 

“I could’ve swore I filled it first thing,” Masters said. Then, shaking his head, he walked out. 

Grey let the silence hang and the King stood easily, waiting. A breath of wind rustled the coconut trees that soared above the jungle just outside the fence, bringing the promise of rain. Already there were black clouds rimming the eastern sky, soon to cover the sky. Soon they would turn dust into bog and make humid air breathable. 

“You like a cigarette? Sir,” the King said, offering the pack. 

The last time Grey had had a tailor-made cigarette was two years before, on his birthday. His twenty-second birthday. He stared at the pack and wanted one, wanted them all. “No,” he said grimly. “I don’t want one of your cigarettes.” 

“You don’t mind if I smoke? Sir.” 

“Yes I do!” 

The King kept his eyes fixed on Grey’s and calmly slipped out a cigarette. He lit it and inhaled deeply. 

“Take that out of your mouth!” Grey ordered. 

“Sure. Sir.” The King took a long slow drag before obeying. Then he hardened. “I’m not under your orders and there’s no law that says I can’t smoke when I want to. I’m an American and I’m not subject to any goddam flag-waving Union Jack! That’s been pointed out to you too. Get off my back! Sir.” 

“I’m after you now, Corporal,” Grey erupted. “Soon you’re going to make a slip, and when you do I’ll be waiting and then you’ll be in there.” His finger was shaking as he pointed at the crude bamboo cage which served as a cell. “That’s where you belong.” 

“I’m breaking no laws—” 

“Then where do you get your money?” 

“Gambling.” The King moved closer to Grey. His anger was controlled, but he was more dangerous than usual. “Nobody gives me nothing. What I have is mine and I made it. How I made it is my own business.” 

“Not while I’m Provost Marshal.” Grey’s fists tightened. “Lot of drugs have been stolen over the months. Maybe you know something about them.” 

“Why you— Listen,” the King said furiously, “I’ve never stolen a thing in my life. I’ve never sold drugs in my life and don’t you forget it! Goddammit, if you weren’t an officer I’d—” 

“But I am and I’d like you to try. By God I would! You think you’re so bloody tough. Well, I know you’re not.” 

“I’ll tell you one thing. When we get through this shit of Changi, you come looking for me and I’ll hand you your head.” 

“I won’t forget!” Grey tried to slow his pumping heart. “But remember, until that time I’m watching and waiting. I’ve never heard of a run of luck that didn’t sometime run out. And yours will!” 

“Oh no it won’t! Sir.” But the King knew that there was a great truth in that. His luck had been good. Very good. But luck is hard work and planning and a little something besides, and not gambling. At least not unless it was a calculated gamble. Like today and the diamond. Four whole carats. At last he knew how to get his hands on it. When he was ready. And if he could make this one deal, it would be the last, and there would be no more need to gamble—not here in Changi. 

“Your luck’ll run out,” Grey said malevolently. “You know why? Because you’re like all criminals. You’re full of greed—” 

“I don’t have to take this crap from you,” the King said, and his rage snapped. “I’m no more a criminal than—” 

“Oh but you are. You break the law all the time.” 

“The hell I do. Jap law may say—” 

“To hell with Jap law. I’m talking about camp law. Camp law says no trading. That’s what you do!” 

“Prove it!” 

“I will in time. You’ll make one slip. And then we’ll see how you survive along with the rest of us. In my cage. And after my cage, I’ll personally see that you’re sent to Utram Road!” 

The King felt a horror-chill rush into his heart and into his test i cles. “Jesus,” he said tightly. “You’re just the sort of bastard who’d do that!” 

“In your case,” Grey said, and there was foam on his lips, “it’d be a plea - sure. The Japs are your friends!” 

“Why, you son of a bitch!” The King bunched a hamlike fist and moved towards Grey. 

“What’s going on here, eh?” Colonel Brant said as he stomped up the steps and entered the hut. He was a small man, barely five feet, and his beard rolled Sikh style under his chin. He carried a swagger cane. His peaked army cap was peakless and all patched with sackcloth; in the center of it, the emblem of a regiment shone like gold, smooth with years of burnishing. 

“Nothing—nothing, sir.” Grey waved at the sudden fly-swarm, trying to control his breathing. “I was just—searching Corporal—” 

“Come now, Grey,” Colonel Brant interrupted testily. “I heard what you said about Utram Road and the Japs. It’s perfectly in order to search him and question him, everyone knows that, but there’s no reason to threaten or abuse him.” He turned to the King, his forehead beaded with sweat. “You, Corporal. You should thank your lucky stars I don’t report you to Captain Brough for discipline. You should know better than to go around dressed like that. Enough to drive any man out of his mind. Just asking for trouble.” 


From the Paperback edition.

Revue de presse

“A magnificent novel.”—Washington Post

“A dramatic, utterly engrossing novel...harsh and brutal in its revelations...James Clavell is a spellbinding storyteller, a brilliant observer, a man who understands much and forgives much.” —New York Times

“Tension wound up to the snapping point.”—Christian Science Monitor

"Breathtaking....worth every word, every ounce, every penny."—Associated Press

Détails sur le produit

  • Format : Format Kindle
  • Taille du fichier : 4045 KB
  • Nombre de pages de l'édition imprimée : 370 pages
  • Editeur : Dell (19 novembre 2008)
  • Vendu par : Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Langue : Anglais
  • ASIN: B001LOEG7W
  • Synthèse vocale : Non activée
  • X-Ray :
  • Word Wise: Activé
  • Lecteur d’écran : Pris en charge
  • Composition améliorée: Activé
  • Moyenne des commentaires client : 4.5 étoiles sur 5 2 commentaires client
  • Classement des meilleures ventes d'Amazon: n°116.255 dans la Boutique Kindle (Voir le Top 100 dans la Boutique Kindle)
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Format: Broché
Clavell nous raconte une autre facette de l'Asie, mais cette fois, sous ses aspects les plus cruels, car l'histoire se déroule dans un camp de prisonniers de guerre, comme on pouvait en trouver dans cette région au climat insupportable.
L'histoire décrit comment les plus forts et les moins scrupuleux peuvent survivre dans de telles conditions.
Une leçon de survie.
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This novel - really different from the others of the saga, more "historic" and less clan story - is as the others ones very interesting and captivating.. I've learned a lot, thanks !
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Commentaires client les plus utiles sur Amazon.com (beta) (Peut contenir des commentaires issus du programme Early Reviewer Rewards)

Amazon.com: 4.5 étoiles sur 5 269 commentaires
6 internautes sur 6 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 Shortest in the series (the fourth of five works), still a terrific read 4 octobre 2014
Par Amazon Customer - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
This is the fourth of five excellent volumes in Clavell's asian masterworks. It reads well, connects well to the other volumes, and is a massive read compared to most works of fiction. This book is the shortest of the set, quite short in fact in comparison, but still about normal book length.

The Kindle version I received contained extra sections that were edited out of the original work, and frankly, I can see why. After reading a bit of the extra content, and knowing how the book was originally structured, I just skipped the new stuff (frankly, I think the original editor was right: it doesn't fit or flow well.) You should read the introduction, which explains the rationale for including this other material.

Having said that, still, highly recommended both on its own and as the fourth in the whole series. Be sure to read the books in order for the most enjoyment; they're connected although quite distant in time from one another, and by reading them in order, the history of the current book you're reading will be deeper and your comprehension of what is going on, and why, will be much better:

1) Shogun -- read first
2) Tai-pan
3) Gai-jin
4) King Rat
5) Noble House -- read last
5 internautes sur 5 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 King Rat 14 août 2012
Par Samantha Helle Sebens - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
This is the fourth book in James Clavell's "Asian Saga". It is also the first book he wrote and the one that is closest to being autobiographical.

King Rat really can be read as a stand alone novel. It is only about 350 pages long and doesn't involve any characters from previous novels (even though Peter Marlowe and Robin Grey appear in Noble House). It is about a Japanese prisoner of war camp called Changi in World War II.

The King is an American soldier who trades camp members' valuable items to the guards for money which can then be used to buy contraband food. This is against Japanese rules and, thus, camp rules but most officers turn a blind eye to the trading. Robin Grey is the exception and he sets out to catch the King and humble him.

King Rat is a very accurate depiction of Japanese prisoner of war camps in World War II and shows that the only true rule in the camp is to survive.

The forward of the book mentions that the original publication had removed the women's perspectives. I am glad they added those parts back in, even though I wish they could have been a little more fleshed out. The big question at the end of the book is "what happens when the surviving soldiers go home?" We don't learn the answer to that question (even though we know a few things about the people left behind that the men aren't aware of) but that is the point. Changi has been the entire world for these men for so long and now that they are free, how do they go back to "normal"?
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
4.0 étoiles sur 5 Although the subject matter is not my favorite, it is one of the few Clavell books ... 15 mars 2017
Par Alaska Hermit - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Format Kindle Achat vérifié
You cannot go wrong with a Clavell story. Although the subject matter is not my favorite, it is one of the few Clavell books I have not read, but read it out of curiosity. It was not difficult to read, and the story flowed well. The plot was not always predictable, and there were some surprises in how the prisoners of the Japanese responded to being freed by the Allies.
1 internautes sur 1 ont trouvé ce commentaire utile 
5.0 étoiles sur 5 King Rat - The book 11 mars 2014
Par Vivian Taylor - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Poche Achat vérifié
James Clavell is an excellent writer. I read his book, King Rat, some 40 years ago and truly enjoyed it. Recently I saw the movie on TCM and decided to buy the movie as well as purchase and read the book again.
As it is when movies are made from books, there must be a lot of editing. This is why I prefer to read the book more than see the movie. Too much is lost.
I felt the intensity of the POW camp and the struggles of daily survival. It has every thing in it that you could want in a story, drama, intrigue, suspense, conspiracy, cunning, and self examination… a lot of examination! It puts people in the realest of conditions, causing them to resort to extreme measures.
This is an adult read, but good for teenagers and up. I think men would enjoy this book more than women. Although I am a woman, I enjoyed the book very much. I like those humanistic sides of people.
I happily recommend this book. It is an excellent read.
5.0 étoiles sur 5 King Rat - by James Cavell 25 novembre 2012
Par Nancy Morse - Publié sur Amazon.com
Format: Broché Achat vérifié
There are two editions of this important book and only through Amazon was I able to procure both of them with minimal effort, because of the enormous number of accessible suppliers to this site.

The original first-published edition was the best one to begin with. Being able to afford to buy a good used copy of the subsequent one that his daughter published from his notes posthumously, was a revelation. He had originally created a side-by-side story of the women involved with these prisoners of war in a Japanese prison camp and then must have decided that it would take away from the importance of the Prison Camp's true horrors.

This supplementation, slipped in to every chapter, would have been too much for me initially. I wanted to read the man's side of the story first and digest it. It is very powerful, true stuff.

Then I used the other edition to understand how he wove these women (actually fantasies in most cases) into the story.
It gave one a great deal to think about!

Thanks for having access to these important books for people like me!

Nancy Morse
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