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The author was born in Java and led an idyllic life until the age of 9½ when the Japanese invaded Indonesia in WWII.  What follows is a graphic account of the horrors of internment camp life through the eyes of a young boy.  That the family survived is a miracle and a testament to their fierce will and determination to do so.

 These characteristics were evident when, as a 13 year old he began his education in England re-learning basic schooling in a language he was not familiar with.

 He moves to Kenya and life becomes an unfolding tapestry of fighting the Mau Mau - safaris to the remote regions his work as a Hides Improvement Officer took him - the sheer beauty, grandeur and wonder of that country with it’s people, wild game and flora - a fascinating tableau of an exciting life that is perhaps given to only few to experience


Book review

It has been said “that to successfully set your course for the future, you must know where you’ve come from.”

Raymond de Brissac Bernard has done this not only for his family, but for everyone privileged to read this real-life adventure and example.

From the Rising Sun to the Roar of the Lion is set within a period of dramatic world change, both in national and political boundaries and social and religious assertiveness wherein the experiences and responses of the writer and of those around him provide lessons for us all.

Born in what was known as colonial “Dutch East Indies” to staunchly-loyal English parents, whose strong character, dignity and decency enabled them to respectfully and confidently associate with people of other races and creeds, both socially and in business, Raymond describes in his own style daily life and circumstances but within the narrative we witness the writer’s own character development.  Examples of his astute parents fair and respectful dealings with all people including the indigenous Javanese and Arab traders providing unexpected and fortuitous outcomes arise throughout the chapters which frequently become so intense and interesting that the book is difficult to put down.

The account of life and death in the internment camps of the fanatical, cruel and even sadistic military - to whom surrender was a sign of weakness,(hence the even worse treatment accorded Dutch nationals), but death was honourable, provides a civilian insight seldom found in history books and reveals the indomitable spirit, courage, resourcefulness and endurance of man and no less the women, even unto death.

But they would NOT be intimidated!

The story is so captivating that we can almost feel the air of freedom when finally the family is reunited and on the ship to England.  The disembarkation, meeting relatives and the writer’s educational experiences demonstrate his own determination to succeed, at the same time providing glimpses of post-war England.

Then into Africa.  Chapter after chapter of marvellous word pictures of the geography, botany, wild life, people, politics and national aspirations.  But throughout we read of the vocation, life and love of Raymond de Brissac Bernard.

Every reader will find this autobiography of value, it is full of fascinating and informative vignettes of human life and circumstance - a particularly valuable book for young and old alike.

Alwyn Crafter