What are some good books about life in captivity?
February 7, 2008 3:00 PM Subscribe
Help me find literature written about life in prisons, work camps, concentration camps etc.
posted by Telf to Society & Culture (39 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
Can you guys please suggest some interesting works of fiction or nonfiction focusing mostly on life in prisons, prison camps, concentration camps, DP camps, refugee camps or any similar settings. Stories that take place in war ravaged occupied areas also fit the bill, think postwar Berlin etc. I'm finding myself very interested in this sort of thing recently.
I'm particularly interested in how people survive these situations. Profiles of people who managed to make it to the top of the ad hoc hierarchies of camp life are especially interesting to me. I'm also deeply interested in the bartering and general economies of camp life.
In no particular order, here are some works that I have read and either enjoyed have been deeply affected by:
King Rat by James Clavell. Historical Fiction. Story about life in Japanese-run POW camp in South East Asia. Profiles one low ranking American soldier who claws his way to the top.
Empire of the Sun by JG Ballard Semi autobiographical. Recounts the experiences of a wealthy British child living in a Japanese prison camp during WWII. Reveals lots deal making and bartering.
Survival in Auschwitz by Primo Levi. Autobiographical memoir about life in Auschwitz. Extremely honest, shows competition between prisoners.
Night by Elie Wiesel. Holocaust memoir. Perhaps more inspiring than many of the Holocaust memoirs.
The Captive Mind by Czeslaw Milosz. Has less emphasis on prison/camp life than other listed books, but does profile survivors of the camps and how they lived.
One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. Fiction but semi autobiographical. Account of life in Stalinist prison camp.
This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen by Tadeusz Borowski. Collection memories about concentration camp life.
Maus by Art Speigelman. Graphic Novel. Extremely powerful for a graphic novel. Depicts and contrasts the behavior of the author's father during and after life in a concentration camp.
If anyone could suggest more works in this vein, I'd really appreciate this. Bonus for providing a brief synopsis. Double bonus if you can provided some varied time periods/locations of such life.