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The Special Prisoner

A Novel

Jim Lehrer

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Description

BONUS: This edition contains an excerpt from Jim Lehrer's Tension City.

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.

Publishers Weekly Review

May 01, 2000 – As in his previous novel, White Widow, the plot of newscaster-writer Lehrer's newest book turns on a chance encounter. In this case the pivotal meeting is between retired Methodist Bishop John Quincy Watson of San Antonio, Tex., an elderly ex-B-29 pilot and POW, and a Japanese businessman in whose eyes Watson sees the stare of the interrogator who tortured him. Incredulous that his old nemesis could have survived, Watson nevertheless discovers that the stranger has checked into a San Diego hotel under the interrogator's last name, and he decides to confront him. Mr. Tashimoto, however, denies he is the former camp official his prisoners nicknamed "the Hyena" because of his sadistic laugh. With this tension-filled standoff underway, Lehrer suspensefully alternates between Watson's harrowing memories of WWII and his present-day cat-and-mouse interrogation with the roles reversed. The first half of the narrative is a provocative, at times wrenching, dramatization of racism, war crimes and revenge--with right not necessarily on Watson's side--but the second is deprived of much of its drive when Watson tragically loses control of the situation and is brought to trial for his violent behavior. Although the ending does not satisfactorily resolve the moral ambiguity of its tantalizing premise, Lehrer's novel successfully illuminates still-sensitive issues for both the U.S. and Japan.
The Special Prisoner
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  • $11.99
  • Available on iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, and Mac.
  • Category: Fiction & Literature
  • Published: May 02, 2000
  • Publisher: Random House Publishing Group
  • Seller: Random House, LLC
  • Print Length: 240 Pages
  • Language: English
  • Requirements: To view this book, you must have an iOS device with iBooks 1.3.1 or later and iOS 4.3.3 or later, or a Mac with iBooks 1.0 or later and OS X 10.9 or later.

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