New and popular titles at Juniata County Library

BOOK REPORT

With so many good books being released all the time, it can be hard to determine what to check out next. Every week, I offer a run-down of significant releases available here at the library.

Visit our online card catalog at juniata.sparkpa.org to search today or call (717) 436-6378 to have a helpful library staff member assist you.

“The Bridge on the River Kwai” by Pierre Boulle

First published in 1954, “The Bridge over the River Kwai” is surely not a new book but has a lasting impact on readers. A war between nations is innately a clash of cultures, and Boulle mixes military fiction with the cultural pride and folly of the Asia-Pacific War. It is a lean, jumpy book, a Conradian tale of the British lost in a dark abroad.

The story unfolds in a Japanese prison camp, where Allied POWs are forced to build a railway bridge connecting Siam (Thailand) and Burma (Myanmar). Under harsh conditions and the haughty perfectionism of Colonel Nicholson, the men rally to the labor of construction, turning the bridge into a symbol of work ethic and national honor, “a masterpiece which was to prove the superiority of the West.”

As the prisoners help the Japanese to invade India, a commando from British Intelligence arrives in the jungle to destroy the bridge. The shocking finale, which differs from the movie, reaps futility on both sides.

The novel’s racism against the Japanese blends subversively with Nicholson’s betrayal. His prideful urge to “do a job properly” is mirrored by the warden Colonel Saito, who hates the British and abuses his prisoners out of fear they might not take him seriously. The relationship of the two characters mirrors that of Imperial Japan’s relationship with the West.

In the end, Boulle, who was himself held in Japanese captivity — and later wrote “Planet of the Apes” — holds that both sides were desperately trying to save face. The things we do during war.

You can find this book in the Adult Fiction section.

Bookshots …

Here are some quick book recommendations that include star ratings I give them or whether you should skip it, borrow it, or buy it.

“Lost and Found,” by Danielle Steel (4 stars)

“Howard Stern comes Again,” by Howard Stern (2 stars)

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Vince Giordano has been the director of the Juniata County Library since 2015.

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