The Garret Tree
Sunday, April 06, 2008
  A River Kwai Story published, available online
A River Kwai Story: The Sonkrai Tribunal was officially published on April 4, 2008 by Allan and Uwin in Australia. The publisher is distributing the book in Australia, New Zealand and parts of the western Pacific. Allan and Unwin also has non-exclusive rights to distribute the book in Asia.

So far I haven't been able to sell rights in North America, the United Kingdom and Europe.

No matter, in the age of the Internet, the book is available online almost everywhere! (See below)

A River Kwai Story is a project that has taken almost eight years, but I was planning it for almost a decade, if not more, before that.

My father was a prisoner on the railway of death and so I heard his stories at the breakfast table. He also bought any book he could on the railway, most of the POW memoirs that were published following the success of David Lean's movie The Bridge on the River Kwai.

I really began work in the summer of 2000, when I was admitted to the interdisciplinary masters program at York University in Toronto.

Although my father was part of the group known as "H Force," when I was reading the memoirs my father had bought, I had a gut feeling that "F Force," the events at Sonkrai, was the key to understanding what happened on the Railway of Death. My gut feeling was confirmed when, as part of the interdisciplinary program, I began studying international humanitarian law and found out that the story of F Force not only had some of the most fascinating characters of the Second World War, but was also a little known but key case in the concept of command responsiblity for war crimes.

As I entered the second year of the part time program in September 2001 (I worked for CBC throughout the process and I am still working for CBC News) the attacks on September 11, and the subsequent events in Afghanistan, Guantanamo and Iraq made the story all the more relevant. While the Bush administration was denying that there was a strong legal definition of what constituted "inhuman treatment" of detainees, it was clear that every post-war case in the Far East, including the cases tried by the United States, clearly defined "inhuman treatment."

After I graduated from the MA program in the fall of 2003, I turned turning the academic thesis into a book. I thought it would take a year. It took four. There were delays in getting additional material to flesh out the academic thesis, to write the book as world events kept me busy at my job and then there were some delays in the production process at the Australian publisher.

Now it's available for you to read:

International orders for A River Kwai Story The Sonkrai Tribunal

Updated August 2008

Outside of Australia and New Zealand, the best way to order this book is through a book store that resells through

A River Kwai Story page on

(Note this link does not operate from either or, if you want to order you must go through

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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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