Interviews, letters, diaries and logs combine to give a voice to allied prisoners of war in the Second World War in Prisoner of War. POWs came from all walks of life but they shared the endless battle to survive against brutality, disease, hunger and despair.
The book follows them from capture, through interrogation, imprisonment (and escape for some) to liberation and homecoming. Told in the POW’s own voices, these remarkable stories of extreme hardship borne with great courage and of hope in the face of seemingly unbearable privations are absolutely compelling.
They also give pause for thought along the lines of counting your blessings and being grateful for warmth, shelter and enough to eat, and of the incredible sacrifices men and women make during times of war.
Who could resist a title like Unshaven jaws? Those old enough to remember designer stubble might be hoping for Don Johnson in a pastel T-shirt and an unstructured linen jacket with the sleeves rolled up and espadrilles with no socks but those who have moved on since the ’80s would be glad that it is in fact about real men.
You can’t get any more real mannish than the sixty All Black test captains who have led the national team since 1903 and that is what this book is about. It’s largely made up of photographs and what photographs they are; ranging from so full of action that you might have trouble figuring out what’s going on to the classic static team shot of the boys lined up with their arms folded and their knees on poignant display, they reflect the huge changes New Zealand society has seen in the 100 or so years the All Blacks have existed.
It’s not all about the photographs though, while the words are admirably succinct they still have space for the telling anecdote like the one about James ‘Jimmy’ Duncan, the first All Black captain, who suffered from alopecia. He wore a cap on the field and was rumored to have whipped it off on more than one occasion, throwing to a support player and confusing the opposition who chased it thinking it was the ball while ‘Jimmy’ got a free run to the line.