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It is August 1945 and World War II is over. Japan has surrendered. As the Western world rejoices, deep in the jungles of British North Borneo the small number of remaining Australian and British prisoners of war are massacred. Of the 2434 prisoners incarcerated by the Japanese at the Sandakan POW camp, only six, all escapees have survived. The POW’s sent from Singapore in 1942-43 to work on airfield construction, endured frequent beatings, and were subjected to other, more diabolical punishment. Sustained only by an inadequate and ever diminishing rice ration and with little medical attention, many died of malnutrition, maltreatment and disease. Lynette Silver, through painstaking research and interviews with survivors, as well as a study of Japanese records, has pieced together a detailed and highly readable account of the lives and ultimate fate of Sandakan’s POW’s. She tells a totally gripping and horrifying tale, not only of the prisoners, but the reasons why they, and their story, became World War II’s most deadly secret.

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