by Pierre Boulle
"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 become 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 distorted 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 pride." (From Amazon.com)
I chose to read The Bridge Over the River Kwai for the War Through the Generations Challenge because it showed the war from a perspective that had nothing to do with the Germans or the Holocaust. I wanted something totally different. I had never seen the movie either, so I had no idea what to expect.
What a got was tale of heroism, stoicism, tragedy and the folly of war that surprised me with how much I enjoyed it. The characters were well-rounded enough to become real people for a few warm spring hours and their plight was just complicated enough to keep me suitably uneasy. I was sad to see it end the way it did, which is quite different from the movie from what I understand, but I found certain portions of the plot just unrealistic enough that the harsher ending gave the entire book more credibility. I don't mean to diminish what this story has to say about war. It is simply that while it was a very good book and well worth reading, it just wasn't as powerful as some of the other WWII novels I've read lately.
Just an aside -- Did you know Pierre Boulle also wrote Planet of the Apes? Me neither. Now I have to read that, too! :-)
NOTICE: (Updated March 5, 2010)
Beginning December 19, 2009, Books 'N Border Collies will be posting but only intermittently while I pursue personal goals. I plan to share some reading I'm doing, but there will be no reviews. I will, however, be sharing my exploration of vegetarian cooking and the cookbooks and websites I use to educate myself. I hope you enjoy it!