To the Kwai and Back: War Drawings, 1939-1945

Ronald Searle, Author Atlantic Monthly Press $34 (192p) ISBN 978-0-87113-073-0
This remarkable document, which the artist 40 years later modestly deprecates as ""graffiti,'' may in its authenticity and power to stir emotion remind readers of Goya. A British Army volunteer posted to Singapore in 1941, Searle was for four years a prisoner of the Japanese. Determination and talent spurred him to record in pen and ink his own and fellow prisoners' circumstances. Searle was ``among the reprieved'' and his visual diary survived, now published here for the first time. With ironic, surprisingly lighthearted commentary, he documents Singapore's fall with depictions of torture and executions, the slave-built Siam-Burma railroad where two-thirds of Searle's group died, the horror of insect-ridden jungle laborers beaten to amuse the guards and the eventual return of 5000 men to a Changi prison built for 600. Searle's moving drawings only occasionally suggest the style of his more familiar, recent cartoons. (April 28)
Reviewed on: 01/01/1986
Release date: 01/01/1986
Hardcover - 192 pages - 978-0-285-63745-0
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