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Extended Audio Sample King Rat: The Epic Novel of War and Survival Audiobook, by James Clavell Click for printable size audiobook cover
3.00006994474365 out of 53.00006994474365 out of 53.00006994474365 out of 53.00006994474365 out of 53.00006994474365 out of 5 3.00 (14,297 ratings) (rate this audio book) Author: James Clavell Narrator: Simon Vance Publisher: Blackstone Audio Format: Unabridged Audiobook Delivery: Instant Download Audio Length: Related: The Asian Saga Release Date: July 2015 ISBN: 9781481523332
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The time is World War II. The place is a brutal prison camp deep in Japanese-occupied territory. Here, within the seething mass of humanity, one man, an American corporal, seeks dominance over both captives and captors alike. His weapons are human courage, unblinking understanding of human weaknesses, and total willingness to exploit every opportunity to enlarge his power and corrupt or destroy anyone who stands in his path.

This enthralling masterpiece about life as a prisoner of war will keep listeners spellbound from the first chapter to the last.

Download and start listening now!

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Quotes & Awards

  • “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

  • “A magnificent novel.”

    Washington Post

  • “Tension wound up to the snapping point.”

    Christian Science Monitor

  • “Clavell’s spellbinding masterpiece…is made more engrossing by flashbacks to the home front.”

    Library Journal

Listener Opinions

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bethany Hammons | 2/17/2014

    " Great story. Discusses honor and character in a prison camp. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jerome Newberry | 2/14/2014

    " I read this book when it first came out then again in 2004. Liked it very much as I do all of Clavels books. It's a very gritty story. The movie left something to be desired. This prison of war camp really existed and much of the story is based on fact. It must have been hell on earth. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 John Nelson | 2/9/2014

    " I first read this book during the mid-1980s, and still had a copy on my shelf after all these years. Probably the best of the Clavell novels, but not a great book. The movie Stalag 17 seems to me to be a better and emotionally truer depiction of life in a WWII prison camp. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Matthew | 2/6/2014

    " A complex novel about human nature in captivity. Social structures and norms are re-ordered in order to survive. The desire for freedom and the fear of it actually materializing. The life of a POW camp is brought to life by Clavell. His prose is excellent and paints a horridly beautiful picture. But still quite as good as Shogun... "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Megan Smith | 1/25/2014

    " I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I didn't expect a book about WWII POWs to be so entertaining and easy to read, but damned if this didn't achieve that. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 John Wiswell | 1/23/2014

    " The beginning of Clavell's truly epic series of culture clash novels is a curiously autobiographical book. King Rat takes us to Changi, a Japanese prison camp during World War 2, where British and American soldiers are held in dire conditions. We watch as people cling to honor, duty and any semblance of structure for their own mental health and survival. Every observation about humanity in these conditions is more interesting because Clavell himself was held in a Japanese prison camp during the war. He controls his memories admirably in the novel, to create a very moving, but never selfishly irrational narrative. His control creates a story that is never too hopeless to lose its deeper meaning, and that embraces its characters as real people, rather than tools for social messages. Readers may be surprised by how entertaining such a dark story can be - authors don't usually go the route Clavell travels. King Rat has the least culture clash of Clavell's series, as most of the interactions are between the Westerners themselves and the major emotional crux is the captivity. For new readers, do not be daunted by the series - the books are tenuously related and can be read in almost any order you like. As this book is the shortest and deals with the most characters of our own cultures, it may be the easiest introduction to James Clavell, though some readers may prefer to jump right into the deeper culture clash of Shogun or Noble House. Regardless, please read at least one James Clavell book in your lifetime. There is no one in historical fiction or literary fiction quite like him. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Andrew | 1/20/2014

    " A very gritty tale of a WWII Japanese prison camp. Struck me as very realistic.. the scenarios seemed like what might have actually occured. Like the writing style, very clean and concise. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Janeen | 8/20/2013

    " This book had me smoking way more than usual and I can remember when last I ate so many eggs. First book my husband and I read together as newly weds 21 years ago. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Mouse | 7/31/2013

    " My first Clavell... I can't wait to read more. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chuck | 6/28/2013

    " This WWII POW survival story is a compelling study of what people do to survive. It takes place in the Japanese' Changi Prison on Singapore Island and is semi autobiographical. It is very well done but I couldn't give it five stars because I found it depressing. "

  • 2 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 52 out of 5 Kim | 6/15/2013

    " The book itself is fine, but it was quite disappointing relative to the other books in the series. Whereas the first three were clearly linked together despite occurring across the centuries, this book is standalone. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ed | 3/29/2013

    " Very interesting book that did a great job depicting a man in a terrible location trying to make ends meet while exploiting others in the process. I would recommend. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Katie | 3/13/2013

    " One of my favorite books. James Clavell tells the story of Allies in a Japanese POW camp with a unique ironic humor, wit, and profound meaning. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Jennifer | 2/25/2013

    " Intense story of life in Changi prison camp is close in feeling to the movie, but explains more. The added parts about the prisoners' families back home were less successful "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Claire Asghar | 10/1/2012

    " I found this be a really engaging historical read. I felt affinity for the characters and I was sad when it ended. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Hannah | 7/25/2012

    " This book will be getting to me for weeks. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Cameron | 6/10/2012

    " This is by far Clavell's easiest book; you can get through it in a few sittings. It's also his most moving. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Lucka | 2/2/2012

    " Must read for anyone who likes war stories! This one goes deeper than most of the rest books about war. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Bill Pollock | 12/17/2011

    " Top Writer..story of a prison camp in ww2. A Classic. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Gordon | 11/29/2011

    " A terrific story of life in a Japanese prisoner of war camp, and how the will to survive can bring out the best and worst in men. The first of Clavell's books that I read, not by any means the last. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Thea | 6/24/2011

    " My dad made me read this when I was 11 when I was complaining about what we were having for dinner. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Bob | 4/23/2011

    " I recall reading this in Junior High, or early High School. A tremendous story of perseverance and dedication. "

  • 3 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 53 out of 5 Ingrid | 3/10/2011

    " SHorter book with some characters met in other of Clavells books. Definitly a darker read, about WWII prisoner of war camp experiences. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Laura | 2/9/2011

    " A brutal story, but riveting. "

  • 5 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 55 out of 5 Patricia | 1/6/2011

    " Loved the whole series! Highly recommend it! "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Ms | 1/5/2011

    " weird ... but, good read "

  • 1 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 51 out of 5 Elizabeth | 12/16/2010

    " the eating rat thing freaked me out too much "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Chuck | 11/25/2010

    " This WWII POW survival story is a compelling study of what people do to survive. It takes place in the Japanese' Changi Prison on Singapore Island and is semi autobiographical. It is very well done but I couldn't give it five stars because I found it depressing. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Celine | 11/10/2010

    " It's a very long time since I read this - I've recently had a hankering to read it again. Must find a copy. "

  • 4 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 54 out of 5 Jim | 11/10/2010

    " A great story teller. Life in a Prisoner of War camp. The big cheese. "

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About the Author
Author James Clavell

James Clavell (1921–1994) was a novelist, screenwriter, director, and World War II veteran and prisoner of war. He is best known for his epic Asian Saga series of novels and their televised adaptations, along with screenplays for such films as The Great Escape, The Fly, and To Sir, with Love. His books Noble House and Whirlwind were #1 New York Times bestsellers.

About the Narrator

Simon Vance (a.k.a. Robert Whitfield) is an award-winning actor and an AudioFile Golden Voice with fifty-eight Earphones Awards. He has won thirteen prestigious Audie Awards and was Booklist’s very first Voice of Choice in 2008. He has narrated more than eight hundred audiobooks over almost thirty years, beginning when he was a radio newsreader for the BBC in London.