copyright 1954; translated by Xan Fielding; Grosset & Dunlap Publishers, New York; hardbound; very good condition with unmarked pages and strong binding; dust jacket has edge wear - see pics.
The Bridge over the River Kwai (French: Le Pont de la rivière Kwaï) is a novel by the French novelist Pierre Boulle, published in French in 1952 and English translation by Xan Fielding in 1954. The story is fictional but uses the construction of the Burma Railway, in 1942–1943, as its historical setting, and is partly based on Pierre Boulle's own life experience working in Malaysia rubber plantations and later working for allied forces in Singapore and Indochina during World War II. The novel deals with the plight of World War II British prisoners of war forced by the Imperial Japanese Army to build a bridge for the "Death Railway", so named because of the large number of prisoners and conscripts who died during its construction. The novel won France's Prix Sainte-Beuve in 1952.
The story describes the mistreatment of prisoners in the POW camp and how they tried to sabotage the construction of the bridge.
Lt. Colonel Nicholson marches his men into Prisoner of War Camp 16, commanded by Colonel Saito. Saito announces that the prisoners will be required to work on construction of a bridge over the River Kwai so that the railroad connection between Bangkok and Rangoon can be completed. However, Saito also demands that all men, including officers, will do manual labor. In response to this, Nicholson informs Saito that, under the Hague Conventions (1899 and 1907), officers cannot be required to do hard work. Saito reiterates his demand and Nicholson remains adamant in his refusal to submit his officers to manual labor. Because of Nicholson's unwillingness to back down, he and his officers are placed in the "ovens"—small, iron boxes sitting in the heat of day. Eventually, Nicholson's stubbornness forces Saito to relent.
Construction of the bridge serves as a symbol of the preservation of professionalism and personal integrity to one prisoner, Colonel Nicholson, a proud perfectionist. Pitted against Colonel Saito, the warden of the Japanese POW camp, Nicholson will nevertheless, out of a distorted sense of duty, aid his enemy. While on the outside, as the Allies race to destroy the bridge, Nicholson must decide which to sacrifice: his patriotism or his pride.