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Publisher's Summary

A naive young man, a railway enthusiast and radio buff, was caught up in the fall of the British Empire at Singapore in 1942. He was put to work on the 'Railway of Death' - the Japanese line from Thailand to Burma. Exhaustively and brutally tortured by the Japanese for making a crude radio, Lomax was emotionally ruined by his experiences. Almost 50 years after the war, however, his life was changed by the discovery that his interrogator, the Japanese interpreter, was still alive - their reconciliation is the culmination of this extraordinary story.

©1995 Eric Lomax (P)2011 Random House Audio Go

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Average Customer Ratings

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From hatred to forgiveness

The Railway Man, by Eric Lomax, is the story of an innocent young man who had a passion for everything trains. Lomax joined the Royal Signal Corp and was captured by the Japanese in 1942. After a detailed map he sketched and a crude radio he built were discovered and confiscated by his guards, Lomax was interrogated on suspicion of being a spy. The interrogation was brutal and seemed likely never to end The interpreter was as cold and cruel as the questioners and was the person Lomax hated most after the war. Lomax was physically and psychologically devastated after his ordeal. He had fantasies of killing the interpreter. But 50 years after it was over Eric Lomax learned the interpreter was still alive and was tormented by his complicity in the interrogation of a particular British POW. Although it seems impossible, Lomax was the very man who Nagase Takeshi must seek forgiveness from to ease his own suffering and guilt. Through a series of near misses and some misunderstanding the two meet. And with the grace and dignity that often only the elderly can display the two former enemies become comfortable together. In the end the two men also became friends. Both Lomax and Takeshi experience great happiness in their final few years through forgiveness and understanding. Do not miss this tale of the ultimate goodness of some men.

16 of 17 people found this review helpful

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Profoundly moving

What an inspiration. It puts my petty grudges in a whole new context. I am so grateful that Eric Lomax shared his story, and I will try to live closer to his standard. How lucky we are to have such guiding lights.

Beautifully read. Riveting. Listened straight through.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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Tough!

It's a very tough listen. I thought I could feel the pain Mr Lomax endured myself. I also thought there was no way in this world I could ever survive what he went through. The speaker was great.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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So Much Better Than The Movie

I recently watched the movie which was made from the basic story in Eric Lomax's excellent book. It's not anywhere near as dramatic as the truth from Lomax's memories.

The Railway Man tells a full story and Eric Lomax comes across as a wonderfully warm human, capable of great forgiveness and kindness to the people who wrecked his physical body.

Obviously suffering from PTSD but before it was actually diagnosed and men were finding themselves capable of being human instead of being 'stiff upper lip' automatons, Lomax had little support for his post war issues, except a loving wife who wished him to become a happier and healthier man.

The beginnings of mutual forgiveness between Lomax and his tormentors was 50 years in coming. For those 50 years both tortured and torturer suffered from the actions that took place during this terrible time of Japanese nationalism and strict idealism of the Japanese racial superiority.

Listing to this story cleared up much for me about WWII..I was an infant in 1943, and have recently begun reading histories and biographies of that time period. This biography/history did a great deal both for opening my eyes and allowing me to see the true reason behind forgiveness and compassion.

I highly recommend listening to or reading the book instead of viewing the movie, which is a loose adaption of the book and stars Nicole Kidman and Colin Firth. Both give great, understated performances and its a movie worth watching-after you read the book.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Gordon
  • Dawson Creek, BC, Canada
  • 04-05-15

An incredible well read account

This book courageously tells a story of pain, suffering and years of sorrow and injuries that never heal. And yet it is balanced with one mans desire to face his fears and answer questions that plagued him for 50 years. This book is well written, riveting and well narrated. I highly recommend it to people of all ages. There is a strong message.... One of compassion and forgiveness.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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A Journey of Forgiveness

This is such a good testimony to the art is forgiveness. Very nicely recorded.

A good book for anyone who also enjoys history.

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Michael
  • Somewhere around the world
  • 01-09-17

Eloquent, detailed, a bit dry, but great ending

Eric Lomax must have been a serious ISTJ (in Myers-Briggs parlance). He loved trains and stamp collections and lists and clocks, etc. He did a good job of relating the details of his experiences, many of which were horrific, but his writing lacked a bit of the storyteller's touch and human insight. But that shouldn't take too much away from this excellent WWII autobiography. I especially appreciated the last part of this book when he meets up with his former 'torture interpreter'. I highly recommend this book to anyone who's interested in the history of allied POWs in south-east Asia during WWII.

The narrator was perfect.

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  • Boone
  • Georgetown, TX, United States
  • 05-25-16

Very Powerful!

This was a great book with a very powerful ending. It was well written, and well read.

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  • Jemmy Bloocher
  • 04-13-13

a tale of humanity, frailty and ultimately redemption

I am sure that this book will stay in my mind for years to come. It is a profoundly moving autobiographical story of one man's experience as a p.o.w in the far east. 'Moving' is oft used, but not by me! I found myself in tears a few times. The quality of the reading was first rate and the prose lovely. I cannot fault this audiobook and feel that my life has been enriched for having heard it. It is not a book I would've picked, but was suggested for my book group. I am very glad it was. The author's honesty and experience can teach us all

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr. R. H. Barnes
  • 11-22-12

Riverting, Captivating, Inspiring

I could not stop listening to this fantastic book. A brilliant insight into a period of modern history that must never be forgotten. Written so fluently and Bill Paterson's narration is excellent.

4 of 4 people found this review helpful

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  • Ann D
  • 03-23-14

moving but measured

What did you like most about The Railway Man?

I was worried that this was going to be more gruesome than I could stand. However this was written in such a way, that although the suffering of Lomax and his fellow prisoners was absolutely appalling, I could listen and sympathise with this man who deprecated his own suffering and wrote so touchingly and with dignity of the suffering of others. The ultimately positive ending brought me to tears- gives us some faith in humanity after all.

Who was your favorite character and why?

2 favourites - Eric Lomax and the interrogator's interpreter, who also suffered for so many years: two dignified old men

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Oh yes! It was harrowing at times, but ultimately up lifting - I cried

Any additional comments?

Loved Bill Paterson's narration - so understated, just what it should be

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Dennis Richards
  • 01-26-14

Masterly

If you could sum up The Railway Man in three words, what would they be?

Gripping, moving and compelling

Who was your favorite character and why?

Lomax himself, his command of the prose and descriptive ability put you alongside him as he travels his lifes' path

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

When he finally forgave his nemesis

Any additional comments?

I can only recommend that you purchase and listen to this book. You will be moved.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • Mrs
  • 01-23-14

Very interesting

It is hard to give an opinion on something that has been the story of a life - it starts slowly and there is as expected a lot of detail about the railway and trains in this country however this is obviously an important backdrop.
It is an emotional and sometimes dreadful story particularly the harrowing details of torture but also rewarding - the meeting between the main character and his Japanese counterpart is nothing short of amazing. How that man could forgive I will never know he must have been an extraordinary character and this is a truly inspiring story.

3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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  • paul
  • 01-28-14

Hard going

First I have to say that the horrendous treatment of the man and his story of its consequences is truly gut wrenching - awful. He has my sympathy - a word that doesn't do his suffering any justice. Deliberate cruelty for defenceless men is the lowest form of evil and this attribute of their treatment of both prisoners and especially Chinese civilians is a great shame for the Japanese.

The book is written as a narrative, it is not a great work of literature. The story should be compelling but the audio delivery is so dreary that I would find myself skipping forward - or falling asleep. A solution if found for anyone who finds similar is to play it at 2x speed on the audio player - sounds daft but is comes over better and the delivery is sharper and keeps the attention- and you get though it in half the speed.

5 of 6 people found this review helpful

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  • Mr. Andrew Trentham
  • 05-17-14

Incredible story

Would you consider the audio edition of The Railway Man to be better than the print version?

Yes due to sight problems it's easier

What did you like best about this story?

Kept me wanting to read on and on

What about Bill Paterson’s performance did you like?

We'll read and being Scotish made it more realistic

Did you have an emotional reaction to this book? Did it make you laugh or cry?

Made me really think about the subject as well as forgiveness

Any additional comments?

I will now watch the film. An exceptional true story

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • jill
  • 05-10-14

Insight into an unimaginable terrible experience

Would you listen to The Railway Man again? Why?

No as I don't listen to any books twice

Who was your favorite character and why?

Eric Lomas as this was who the story was centred

Which scene did you most enjoy?

I can't say that I enjoyed any scene.

Was this a book you wanted to listen to all in one sitting?

Yes

Any additional comments?

I found the beginning rather uninteresting as I have a limited fascination for trains. <br/>The rest of the book was gruelling to listen to but what a man to survive and be able to write <br/>about such a terrible treatment.<br/>

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 05-10-14

worth a read

Is there anything you would change about this book?

i would have put a lot more excitment into the day they were freed from the the hell they had suffered

What was the most interesting aspect of this story? The least interesting?

most interesting was the description of the awful conditions and terror the soldiers had to live through told in a graphic but not too disturbing way, the least interesting was all the information on trains and engines

What does Bill Paterson bring to the story that you wouldn’t experience if you had only read the book?

Bill Paterson captured the deperation and sometimes the fear and even how tired Eric Lomax was of it all

Was The Railway Man worth the listening time?

i believe it was

Any additional comments?

not the best book i have read but im glad ive read it just to remember what those men suffered and its part or our history that should not be forgotten

1 of 1 people found this review helpful

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  • Tony
  • 11-09-16

Privilege

This book has been a privilege to listen to. I cannot imagine the strength of character this took to complete.

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  • Ros H.
  • 07-15-16

Excellent

I found this an excellent book.
My father had fought against the Japanese in WWII. I now understand in part maybe why he was the way he was. A rather difficult man.
This book does give a very true and graphic description of life of the men fighting in this part of the world also the horrendous way the captured men where treated.
I know both my father and grandmother took many long years to forgive or even talk to them. Sometimes I wonder if they ever did Georgie.
The narration of this book was I think what made it even better. Had I tried to read this myself I don't think I could have got through the torture. He somehow made it easier, don't think it that he was being gentle or anything, just I was able to hang in and listen.
An excellent book right to the end

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  • Amazon Customer
  • 07-02-16

A thought provoking book

Well read by Bill Patterson. A story of extreme courage and a will to survive.