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Titre : The Special Prisoner
Éditeur : New York: Random House
Date d'édition : 2000
Reliure : Hard Cover
Etat du livre : As New
Etat de la jaquette : As New
Signé : Signed by Author
Edition : First Edition, First Printing.
Signed by the author on the title page, not on a tipped-in sheet or bookplate. No inscriptions, personalizations, or remainder marks. N° de réf. du libraire 127-75
Following the enormous success of his two bestselling previous novels, White Widow and Purple Dots, Jim Lehrer takes on a new and controversial subject in this ambitious story about an Ameri-can soldier who, many years after the fact, is forced to relive his harrowing experience in the Second World War.
The Special Prisoner takes its title from the designation the Japanese government gave U.S. airmen held prisoner during World War II--an indication of the severity with which these foreign devils responsible for bombing Japanese cities were to be treated. John Quincy Watson was a skilled young pilot flying B-29s over Japan when he was shot down and taken prisoner in 1945. Fifty years later, now a prominent religious figure nearing retirement, Bishop Watson believes he has long since overcome the excruciating memories of his months as a POW. But a chance sighting of the now equally elderly Japanese officer who repeatedly tortured him instantly transports the Bishop back to that unendurable time, and he finds himself overwhelmed by an un-controllable desire for vengeance. The result for Watson is both a vivid return to the horrors of his past and the triggering of a new series of events that are also horrific--and tragic.
Engaging and emotionally poignant, The Special Prisoner delves into the complicated issue of war guilt and forgiveness, starkly portrayed in the characters of an officer from a country that refuses to admit any wrongdoing and a clergyman who is committed to a belief that to forgive is divine. This is new and controversial territory for Lehrer, and he treats it with passion and respect, while writing in the highly readable, engaging style that is his trademark. This fascinating story of what's fair in war--and what's fair afterward--is a dramatic new novel from the veteran Washington author and newscaster.
Critique: An overwhelming sense of symmetry permeates The Special Prisoner, but it doesn't come in the lovely, harmonious, balanced variety. Instead it's the terrifying symmetry of life at its most basic, of innocence, guilt, death, and rebirth. Jim Lehrer's hero, Bishop John Quincy Watson, is imprisoned alternately in physical and metaphysical realms throughout the novel, a "man of God and grace" who comes to wrestle with a "long-dormant barbaric monster ... waiting in his soul."
This retired Methodist is an all-American boy who did his duty for his country in World War II at a high personal cost. Shot down over Tokyo on his 17th mission as the young pilot of a B-29 Superfortress, Watson spent the rest of the war in a Japanese POW camp. Designed specifically for bomber crews--who were considered the worst of the White Devils--it was run by a particularly ruthless guard called the Hyena. As the novel opens, the now 70-year-old, crippled Bishop has just spotted Tashimoto, the Hyena, in an airport in Texas, casually boarding a plane. Memories of the camp come flooding back and slam head-on into what Watson had presumed was a rock-solid wall of spiritual piety, and he quickly sets off on a mission of revenge. He tracks his prey to a hotel room in San Diego, and what happens next plunges him into recollections of unspeakable horror, changing his life irrevocably. The novel becomes a vicious game of back and forth between past and present, captor and captive; the Bishop unwittingly slides in and out of each role as he confronts the demon without and ousts the demon within. But is Tashimoto really the demon he seeks? If not, what monsters of delusion has the Bishop actually let loose?
Lehrer explores questions of guilt, shame, forgiveness, and self-examination with an obvious passion, if not intellectual rigor, and his eye for detail is sharp. He intertwines the stories with the precision of a chainlink fence, using such devices as the interplay between the Hyena's bamboo stick and the crippled Bishop's cane. The Special Prisoner is a densely packed, suspenseful read that gets more captivating as it gathers speed. --S. Ketchum
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