Myrmidon to republish two original classic accounts by prisoners of war on the River Kwai Railway

Railroad of DeathMyrmidon has acquired the rights to two original accounts by British Second World War prisoners of the Japanese who worked on the famous ‘River Kwai’ Railway, the subject of the film The Railway Man due to be released in cinemas next year.

Railroad of Death is the original classic account of the construction of the Burma Railway by John Coast, then a young officer in the Norfolk Regiment who wrote his original manuscript on the voyage home. Railroad of Death was a 1946 bestseller and provided inspiration for the film Bridge over the River Kwai and a groundbreaking 1969 BBC documentary Return to the River Kwai. Incorporating Coast’s 1969 interviews for the BBC with his Japanese captors as well as an introduction putting Coast’s experiences into context, Railroad of Death will be published in paperback and ebook in May 2014.

In November 2014 Myrmidon will republish And The Dawn Came Up Like Thunder by Leo Rawlings in hardback and ebook. An artist before the war, Rawlings drew what he witnessed around him as a prisoner of the Japanese, leading him to be unofficially commissioned after his capture to keep a visual record of the prisoners lives. The new edition will include pictures never before published as well as new commentary on Rawlings’ experiences by Dr Nigel Stanley an expert on Rawlings and the medical problems faced on the Burma Railway.

Associate Editor Justin Nash who acquired the rights directly from the families for Myrmidon said, “Both are classics steeped in humanity and crying out to be brought back to the wide audience the books previously had and deserve. Railroad of Death by John Coast was the first and the best account of the camps on the Burma Railway. It also documents the fight of a group of young officers for survival against the Japanese and frustration with the old guard of senior officers who ran the British end of the camps. And The Dawn Came Up Like Thunder by Leo Rawlings is both fascinating and unique. His eyewitness drawings and paintings vividly and uncompromisingly bring to life the diseases, hardships and other sufferings of the prisoners of war.”

The books are to be the first in a range of publications of witness testimony from ordinary soldiers from all sides in the great conflicts of the 20th century and Myrmidon are actively seeking both unpublished war diaries and classic accounts that may now be out of print.