Pierre Boulle: Le pont de la rivière Kwaï



375 starsI usually came across this fiction during my college years in a number of good bookshops in Bangkok but I thought it was beyond my reading capability so I never picked it up to read I vaguely knew from my reading that there was an acclaimed film entitled The Bridge On the River Kwai 1957 but surprisingly I had never watched it until the menacingly advanced internet era allows us to watch any film at will provided that we are lucky that film in uestion is copyright free by simply typing its title on YouTube In the meantime I think there is something worth reading and essential to our background information on the film production and understanding on this military novel in which we can read on this website However the river s name itself may pose a problem to those unfamiliar with its pronunciation especially to foreigners or tourists who encounter it for the first time Kwai is transliterated from a Thai word so it is right to pronounce the word Kwai as if there is a letter r following ust imagine it with an r like this Kwair Please note there is a pitfall on pronouncing Kwai as you see rhyming with eye because that is another Thai word meaning buffalo I agreed with some readers verdict stating that the film was worth watching and interesting than reading this 4 part 25 chapter military fiction For some reason I found reading its Parts 1 3 tedious while Part 4 war like with intense climax and action Moreover there is an inconstancy regarding the promulgated concept on the Southeast Asia Coprosperity Sphere p 21 and the Southeast Asia Sphere p 189 The author might have focused on Southeast Asia so he has rephrased it In fact the concept was entitled Greater East Asia Co Prosperity Sphere In the early 1950 s I first came across this concept in some Thai tabloids translated into Thai as and wondered what it meantTo continue This was in my personal opinion a complete stinkerThis book is raved about by so many people it and the movie it inspired were the forerunners of a great deal of historical literature film and documentaries about the bridge in uestion and the Japanese WWII prison camps that worked on the Burma railway Some have called it a classic war novel but I found it appallingly badly written or possibly translated I would not know stereotyped way past the point of caricature incredibility verbose and insultingly incorrect on historical detailsPerhaps if this was the first story of it s kind I had read or if I knew nothing about the actual history I might have tolerated it better but no matter what it would NEVER have been a good bookFirst The writing It was very verbose florid and clumsy You have to give it some leeway for being a translation sure The romance languages do not always translate easily to English But the descriptions of the camps and the conditions were vag I always feel odd rating a classic as it is so far beyond my power to comment on whether for good or for evil I both loved the book and hated it and now that I ve gotten all the way through it I will have to process and then read it again to try to get my mind around it I spent most of the book struggling to understand what I was reading I couldn t connect with the characters especially Nicholson I spent the first part of the book beating my head against the wall trying to understand what he was doing and why Finally I did some research into British army customs and regulations of the time which helped me out I kept going But the first duty of an officer is to escape This is aid and comfort to the enemy How is this not treason until I manage to grasp that at the time the first duty of an officer was to secure the lives of his men I couldn t get around the extremely paternal attitude of the officers toward the enlisted men until I realized that I was approaching the situation as a modern American and wasn t taking into account the still class based structure of the British army of the time when the officers were still gentry and the enlisted men were still commoners by and large Eventually I was able to accept that I was reading something of a very different time and place and instead of stumbling over the racism and paternalism I had to ust accept it for what it was and move on The book is as they say what it is I saw the movie first and I had no idea how much they d changed the ending I was shocked at the 1942 Boldly advancing through Asia the Japanese need a train route from Burma going north In a prison camp British POWs are forced into labor The bridge they build will becom.

( READ Le pont de la rivière Kwaï ) AUTHOR Pierre Boulle – ecogenlife.org

D times better than the movie Pierre Boulle s writing was excellent and the best thing here is the great character study of these men Since the book is based on his own experiences during World War II it is a great look into what life was like for these soldiersIt is a book that you can t read with 21st Century glasses on You definitely have to remember this is a picture of what life was like during and after World War II when these feelings were still raw For the love of history inside of me I will always love this book This is a book where I will fully admit that my modern perspective is a huge part of why I couldn t stand it Studied as an historical text with extensive contextualization before reading it might come off different but from a 2016 perspective this is a deeply insistently even ardently racist book about supreme stupidity to be honest in the guise of honorIt s the racism that bugs me the most honestly I know when this book was written and I know that the Japanese Army was responsible for truly heinous war crimes during World War Two and I know that people in this time very likely would have been this racist and yet none of that makes it any easier to ignore The Japanese people and their culture are denigrated at almost every turn in this book by the characters but also by the narrative prose They re referred to as children savages incompetent a 25 Rounded upI have not seen the film that is based on the book though I can imagine that the film might bring out some of the personalities better especially given the cast Boulle s idea for the book is certainly intriguing but until the last few pages it lacks drama For such a short book really almost a novella I thought Boulle repeated himself particularly about how great western engineering was and how the British soldier was such a better example of humanity than his Japanese counterpart I could make allowances for some of this but the repetition of this theme throughout gave the book a xenophobic cast that detracted from the story No doubt Boulle s own experiences gave him a aundiced view of the Japanese he served in a Japanese labor camp so I certainly don t begrudge him his opinions I ust thought the ideas were overelaborated in the bookI m eager to see the film now because I feel like there was a lot of depth to this story that the book didn t completely plumb I decided to finally read this classic after a trip to Bangkok late last year My colleague and I took a day trip to and indeed walked across the Bridge Over the River Kwai and visited the nearby military cemetery which is attractive well organized and maintained and well moving and the extremely informative museum OK we rode elephants too but that s not relevant Of course all of this merely reinforces that this popular book is a work of FICTION as was the movie One of the real highlights of the museum is the video interviews with a number of survivors both Japanese and POW s Some of the interviews highlight the inaccuracies of the movie etc But again it was one of the best most engaging small museums I ve seen anywhere As for the book it s a great story and it s very nicely written or accurately in my case translated The descriptions and the vocabulary are vivid the story proceeds at a nice pace and the characters merit your interest Topical supplement If this topic interests you I strongly recommend Richard Flanagan s Booker Prize winning Narrow Road to the True North I enjoyed this WW2 story that inspired the 1957 movie The story follows two plots that come to a point in the end like the movie Colonel Nicholson and the POW construction crew building the bridge The other being the demolitionssabotage team conducting a special operations warfare style mission to blow up the bridge Colonel Nicholson was prideful a hard line disciplinarian and snob of the officer corps Colonel Saito was the strict Japanese camp commandant under pressure from the Japanese High Command to build the bridge at any cost Major Shears was the commando leading a small team into the ungle to demolition the bridge These three characters created tension and overlapping dynamic that made a good book in my opinion I liked this book because Pierre Boulle does a good ob at telling the story The use of description in the writing added uality to the plot I eually enjoyed the book and the movie Thanks. Ted sense of duty aid his enemy While on the outside as the Allies race to destroy the bridge Nicholson must decide which will be the first casualty his patriotism or his pri.

Nd although having pondered it I think that the book s ending is true to the characters than the 11th hour redemption of the movie I was surprised that for such an action and suspense heavy plot that much of the action took place in narrative form of characters telling other characters what happened instead of following it in real time so to speak That disturbed the flow of the story for me taking me out of the moment I m assuming that that was a style choice on the part of the author although I have no idea why I feel that the true application of the novel would not be in military history classes but rather in psychology and sociology classes to study the impact of stress and the mind s extraordinary abilities to take care of itself and the level of cognitive dissonance we re all capable of to ustify our actions with our deeply held beliefs and No Way Home just keep going How knows what evil lurks in the hearts of men The Shadow and Pierre Boulle know Three stars for The Bridge Over the River Kwai by Pierre Boulle I liked it but man o man it annoyed me A product of it s times written in 1954 Kwai is both stereotypical and stiff in the telling of a 1942 WWII Pacific Theatre event I suppose most have at least seen or heard of the film starring Alec Guinness and William Holden The stiff necked Brit Colonel Nicholson whose pride blinds his patriotism somehow and the attending figures that surround him Colonol Saito his Japanese counterpart that is head of that particular POW camp and the bridge that must be built for the Japanese invasion to go as planned I d seen most of the film many years ago and really Guinness is perfect for the part of Nicholson breathing a life into the character that is somehow flatter in the book But I must get back to the book Sorry Blind pride Men following orders Oppressiveungle temperatures Partially unprepared insurgents Boulle really brings out the similarities of nationalities probably a bit ahead of his time I think A uote of the first page of the book kind of sums it up The insuperable gap between East and West that exists in some eyes is perhaps nothing than an optical illusion Perhaps it is only the conventional way of expressing a popular opinion based on insufficient evidence and masuerading as a universally recognized statement of fact for which there is no Sequins and Spurs justification at all not even the plea that it contains an element of truth During the last war saving face was perhaps as vitally important to the British as it was to the Japanese Perhaps it dictated the behavior of the former without their being aware of it as forcibly and as fatally as it did of the latter and no doubt that of every other race in the worldI like that in other words we are all the same underneath the skin as it were Nationalism racism and whatever other isms one can think of are essentially superfluous It is true and I wish would realize it We are creeping up on that thought but faster please I enjoyed this tale of obsession within a parable on the futility and absurdity of war loosely based on Japanese use of British prisoners of war to build a railroad bridge in theungles of Siam during World War IIBoulle as narrator opens the novel euating the values and behavior of the West specifically the British and specifically its symbol Col Nicholson with those of the East ie the Japanese ie and its symbol Col Saito During the last war saving face was perhaps as vitally important to the British as it was to the Japanese Perhaps it dictated the behavior of the former without their being aware of it as forcibly and fatally as it did that of the latter and no doubt that of every race in the world Perhaps the conduct of each of the two enemies superficially so dissimilar was in fact simply a different though eually meaningless manifestation of the same spiritual reality Perhaps the mentality of the Japanese colonel Saito was essentially the same as that of his prisoner Colonel Nicholson Published in 1952 and written as Allied war crimes trials of Japanese soldiers were ust winding down Boulle s suggestion that both sides were driven by the same beliefs of cultural superiority would have been unusually broad minded for a former Free French I read this book the first time as an assignment for World History class in high school I read the book and then later saw the movie To me the book was a thousan. E a symbol of service and survival to one prisoner Colonel Nicholson a proud perfectionist Pitted against the warden Colonel Saito Nicholson will nevertheless out of a distor.

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Librarian Note There is than one author in the Goodreads database with this namePierre Boulle 20 February 1912 – 30 January 1994 was a French novelist best known for two works The Bridge over the River Kwai 1952 and Planet of the Apes 1963 that were both made into award winning filmsBoulle was an engineer serving as a secret agent with the Free French in Singapore when he was captu