The Garret Tree
Monday, April 30, 2007
  A River Kwai Story The Sonkrai Tribunal

Here is the cover of A River Kwai Story The Sonkrai Tribunal.

Publication date is Friday, July 6, 2007.

More prisoners of war died at Sonkrai than any other camp on the infamous River Kwai Railway. The seven thousand Australian and British prisoners of war who comprised
F Force were sent by the Japanese to build the toughest section of the railway in the mountains between Thailand and Burma. More than three thousand people died from slave labour, disease, starvation and exposure to the never-ending monsoon rain.

In 1946 seven former guards from the infamous River Kwai camp were put on trial for their lives before a military tribunal in Singapore, charged with the deaths of more than three thousand people. The account of the trial tells for the first time the story of F Force from all sides-Australian, British and Japanese-from the lowest private to the lieutenant colonels in command. The testimony, verdict and the surprise sentence shed new light on what really happened on the Railway of Death.

You can view the Allen and Unwin July books international sales page here.

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Sunday, April 29, 2007
  Photography: Shooting a volcano
Soufriere Hills volcano In late March and April, 2007, I went to Montserrat to shoot the Soufriere Hills volcano. A photo galley is now up on (supplemented with wire pix to tell the back story).

The growing lava dome looms over abandoned homes outside the town of Plymouth.

Most of the pictures were shot from a dive boat 2,000 metres off shore.
Since the dome collapse in January, 2007, you cannot enter the
exclusion zone, even with a police escort. This may change if the
volcano settles down.

I have been interested in volcanoes since I was kid, so these are in
some ways vacation pix.

I met Vicky Hard, the director of the Montserrat Volcano Observatory
and she gave me some good advice which I thought I would pass on in case
anyone ever gets an assignment to shoot a volcano.

Her most important advice was that the fine (sometimes microscopic)
volcanic ash can be deadly to cameras and computer equipment, the
observatory has to replace its equipment frequently because the ash
shortens its working life.

Every morning when I got up, I had to clean a very fine layer of ash
from the top of my (closed) laptop even though the volcano was
relatively quiet.

She said ash can destroy an SLR when changing lens (this has happened
to photographers in the past)

So if you are ever assigned to shoot a volcano, take a high quality
fixed lens camera or an SLR that is at the end of its useful life or be
prepared to pay for a thorough cleaning and overhaul when you get back.

On Vicky’s advice I did not take my SLR on the dive boat for the
shots I took from the west side of Montserrat. I used my Panasonic
Lumix FZ50, which has 450 mm equivalent optical zoom. There was some
chop and a little spray, but not that much, but I had to clean the UV
filter on the camera every few minutes. The tiny grains of ash combined
with the spray meant the UV filter quickly looked as if it had been
sitting uncovered on a shelf for about a decade.

I did use my SLR for the pictures I took on the east side of the island
from Jackboy Hill, the weather was fine, there was little wind and I was
shooting on land, with no danger of sea spray.

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I write in a renovated garret in my house in a part of Toronto, Canada, called "The Pocket." The blog is named for a tree can be seen outside the window of my garret.

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Name: Robin Rowland
Location: Toronto, Canada

I'm a Toronto-based writer, photographer, web producer, television producer, journalist and teacher. I'm author of five books, the latest A River Kwai Story: The Sonkrai Tribunal. The Garret tree is my blog on the writing life including my progress on my next book (which will be announced here some time in the coming months) My second blog, the Wampo, Nieke and Sonkrai follows the slow progress of my freelanced model railway based on my research on the Burma Thailand Railway (which is why it isn't updated that often) The Creative Guide to Research, based on my book published in 2000 is basically an archive of news, information and hints for both the online and the shoe-leather" researcher. (Google has taken over everything but there are still good hints there)

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    A River Kwai Story
    A River Kwai Story
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