MLA Platinum Award Press Release

Summary and book reviews of The Special Prisoner by Jim Lehrer

The Special Prisoner

by Jim Lehrer

The Special Prisoner by Jim Lehrer X
The Special Prisoner by Jim Lehrer
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

  • First Published:
    May 2000, 256 pages
    Paperback:
    May 2001, 240 pages

    Genres

  • Rate this book


Buy This Book

About this Book

Book Summary

Explores 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.

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 American 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 uncontrollable 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.

Excerpt
The Special Prisoner

Bishop John Quincy Watson, a man of God and grace, was yanked back into his ordeal of hate and horror by a pair of eyes.

They flashed at him from out of the crowd in a concourse at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport-DFW as it was known by those who knew airports. He stopped with a jolt and turned around. He fixed his sights on the backs of people walking past.

None of the backs looked familiar.

He walked toward Gate 32A, where he was to board a flight to Washington's National Airport.

The bishop hadn't seen the face, only the eyes.

Whose were they?

Then he knew. It came to him cleanly, clearly, and absolutely. The eyes were those of a man he knew fifty years ago as "the Hyena." He knew it with a crushing certainty that was as unshakable as John Quincy Watson's faith in the Almighty.

For reasons of exercise and pride, the bishop seldom used the motorized carts provided at airports for the old and lame, choosing instead to make his way ...

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for a year or $12 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Reviews

Media Reviews

Library Journal
Gripping...a harrowing novel of redemption and revenge.

Author Blurb Stephen E. Ambrose
This account of an American prisoner of war in Japanese hands rings with truth. Lehrer, himself a Marine, has captured the reality of what it was like. The brutality, the sadism, the horror, and, above all else, the triumph of will that got the prisoners through the experience are all here. Lehrer's book is honest, factual, and a tribute to the men who endured and prevailed over the worst existence imaginable.

Author Blurb Iris Chang, author of The Rape of Nanking
Riveting...I couldn't put this book down! The Special Prisoner delves into the full complexity of human evil and revenge.

Reader Reviews

Curtis

This book had a chilling ring of truth....best book i have read in years....Currently reading "No Certain Rest".......this guy knows what he is doing

Christina

I really enjoyed the book. The text really drew me into the story and the historical fiction storyline was gripping! I just wish it was longer so I could feel his pain and his exhaustion from being at Sengi 4. Overall good book!

Write your own review!

Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for a year or $12 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Readalikes

Readalikes Full readalike results are for members only

More books by Jim Lehrer

If you liked The Special Prisoner, try these:

  • Unbroken jacket

    Unbroken

    by Laura Hillenbrand

    Published 2014

    About this book

    More books by this author

    In her long-awaited new book, Laura Hillenbrand writes with the same rich and vivid narrative voice she displayed in Seabiscuit. Telling an unforgettable story of a man's journey into extremity, Unbroken is a testament to the resilience of the human mind, body, and spirit.

  • The Coldest Night jacket

    The Coldest Night

    by Robert Olmstead

    Published 2013

    About this book

    More books by this author

    Olmstead reveals an unspoken truth about combat: That for many men, the experience of war is the most enlivening, electric, and extraordinary experience of their lives.

Non-members are limited to two results. Become a member
Search Readalikes again
How we choose readalikes
Membership Advantages
  • Reviews
  • "Beyond the Book" articles
  • Free books to read and review (US only)
  • Find books by time period, setting & theme
  • Read-alike suggestions by book and author
  • Book club discussions
  • and much more!
  • Just $39 for a year or $12 for 3 months
  • More about membership!

Editor's Choice

  • Book Jacket: How to Build a Heart
    How to Build a Heart
    by Maria Padian
    Maria Padian is well-known for her motif of exploring teen reactions to social issues. Her novel ...
  • Book Jacket: Follow Me to Ground
    Follow Me to Ground
    by Sue Rainsford
    Ada and her father are human-like beings who age slowly and possess the power to heal all illness. ...
  • Book Jacket: Children of the Land
    Children of the Land
    by Marcelo Hernandez Castillo
    In this exquisitely crafted memoir, Marcelo Hernandez Castillo describes coming of age as a young ...
  • Book Jacket: A Good Neighborhood
    A Good Neighborhood
    by Therese Anne Fowler
    After fictionalized biographies of Zelda Fitzgerald (Z, 2013) and Alva Vanderbilt (A Well-Behaved ...

Readers Recommend

  • Book Jacket

    Cartier's Hope
    by M. J. Rose

    A Gilded Age gem of ambition & betrayal from the author of New York Times bestseller, Tiffany Blues.
    Reader Reviews

  • Book Jacket

    Father of Lions
    by Louise Callaghan

    A true-to-life narrative of one man's remarkable quest to save the Mosul Zoo.
    Reader Reviews

Book Club Discussion
Book Jacket
American Dirt
by Jeanine Cummins

"American Dirt is a Grapes of Wrath for our times."
—Don Winslow

About the book
Join the discussion!
Win this book!
Win The Lost Family

The Lost Family
by Libby Copeland

A deeply reported look at the rise of home genetic testing and the seismic shock it has had on individual lives.

Enter

Wordplay

Solve this clue:

A F I Need I A F I

and be entered to win..

Books that     
entertain,
     engage

 & enlighten

Visitors can view some of BookBrowse for free. Full access is for members only.

Join Today!

Your guide toexceptional          books

BookBrowse seeks out and recommends the best in contemporary fiction and nonfiction—books that not only engage and entertain but also deepen our understanding of ourselves and the world around us.