This is first of all a remarkable story of survival. But to an extent it is also a different kind of Second World War history, in the sense that war history, usually the province of scholars and commanders, is brought to dramatic life and is broken down to its basic, human elements in Eaten By the Japanese, a fascinating and horrific memoir of war, imprisonment, and torture by Japanese soldiers during World War II. This account, perhaps the only one written by an ordinary Indian soldier, radiates a humanity and a pathos which make its appeal universal and transnational, like Iris Chang's account of The Rape of Nanking.Crasta does not fit the usual stereotype of a soldier: a pugnacious, boisterous brawler, a jingoist ready to march off to battle, dangerous when provoked. He is rather a man who in his whole life never willingly hurt a fly, who is so forgiving, so moved by a small kindness that he invites his former enemies to visit his home. Yet, the desperate need for a job makes this man join the colonial army of his masters to save the British Empire--which is under attack by the empire of another Asian country. In the process, he is nearly Eaten By The Japanese. Eaten By the Japanese raises many controversial questions. What does the ordinary soldier--who is by definition trained and commanded not to think--think about war when he decides to think anyway? Did Britain treat Indians justly after the war and reward them fairly for their sacrifices? What about the Americans, who merrily bombed the Indian prisoners--their own side? This is a non-elitist, first-person account of history, coming from an invisible man and an invisible class. And what about cannibalism and man's inhumanity to man? At a time when various skeletons of the war are emerging from the closet, renewing discussion and the demand for apologies and reparations--is the fate of Indian soldiers who were eaten, killed, or tortured too trivial to consider? These are some of the questions posed by Richard Crasta, son of the author, and an author in his own right of the novel The Revised Kama Sutra--published by Penguin India and other foreign publishers--and of the HarperCollins India book of essays Beauty Queens, Children, and the Death of Sex), in his moving biographical introduction and concluding essays.
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The first published memoir of an unknown Indian soldier who was a low-ranking recruit in the British Indian Army and a prisoner of the Japanese in the Second World War. With an Introduction and two concluding essays on "Fathers and Sons" by Richard Crasta, Son of the author and author of 'The Revised Kama Sutra', 'Impressing the Whites' 'Beauty Queens, Children, and the Death of Sex' and 'What We All Need'.From the Author:
Bringing out my father's book was one of the most moving and satisfying experiences of my 25 years as a writer. My father was 86 years old at the time that this manuscript, which had been lying in his steel trunk for 50 years, was seen by me; reading it brought tears to my eyes. I was able to understand him in a way that I never had before. It took me a year to publish it; he saw the published copy when he was 87 1/2 years old, and died less than two years later. Since then, I have shown it to India's then Army Commander-in-Chief, General V. P. Malik, and was praised for it, and heard that it had moved many senior army officers. My hope is that it will be read in America and in Britain, for whose freedom thousands of Indians like my father fought during the Second World War.
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