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Like many thousands of other unsuspecting young soldiers, Ken Adams was sent out to the Far East during the Second World War. He immediately saw action on the Malay Peninsula before being captured at Singapore. As a trained medic he was initially assigned to work at Changi Hospital, where conditions were bad enough. However, this was only the start of the three-year ordeal and many moves and far worse camps in Thailand were to follow.
In Healing in Hell, Ken describes his life, work and the terrible conditions endured at the hands of the Japanese and Korean guards and, worst of all, the Kempetai secret police. He found himself faced with cases far beyond his medical expertise. Diseases such as dysentery, malaria, avitaminosis, cholera and smallpox were prevalent and had to be treated with minimal or no medicines. Starvation was a fact of life.
He and his comrades and patients were frequently moved around from camp to ghastly camp and, in 1945, he took part in a gruelling march of many hundreds of miles, which proved fatal to many.
All books by former POWs of the Japanese are harrowing and this one is no exception given the Author's experiences. What sets this account apart from others is the way he deals frankly with issues like death when seen for the first time, and the powerlessness and endless frustration of indeterminate imprisonment. What also sets this account apart from others is the way he addresses the too often overlooked and painful difficulties of resettling back into his family and society after being cut off for so long in captivity of the worst kind.
For all these reasons, Healing in Hell is an exceptional memoir that demands reading.
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