"4,000 DAYS: My Life and Survival in a Bangkok Prison" by Warren Fellows

"4,000 DAYS: My Life and Survival in a Bangkok Prison"

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KIRKUS REVIEW

An account of 11 years spent in the brutal Thai penitentiary system, including nine years in the infamous Bang Kwang. Fellows was a youth from Sydney, Australia, who fell in with the wrong crowd. At the age of 21, he began drug-running, which took him to such exotic locales as India. In 1978, the Thai police busted him and a friend with a suitcase full of heroin, and thus begins Fellows's journey into hell. Drug dealing in Thailand is punishable by death. Fellows was sentenced to life imprisonment--a sentence equal to death, as he makes abundantly clear throughout his narrative. There is a raw power to Fellows's story, which is gripping no matter how clumsy the prose is at times. His description of the vermin in Maha Chai, the prison in which he spent two years awaiting his trial, is fodder for a lifetime's worth of nightmares. And it's matched by the tales of the sadistic rituals of torture that he witnessed. However, Fellows's barely concealed fury, while lending a certain power to the book, also makes the story feel a little undigested. Fellows somehow glosses over the fact that he was dealing drugs until the very end of the book. Moreover, he seems to mitigate his own culpability by emphasizing how easy drugs are to obtain in Thailand and, more disturbingly, the great cruelty of the Thai people: ""they are perhaps the cruellest people in the world,"" he writes. It is both to his credit and to his detriment that Fellows confides, ""You might believe that I'm just wallowing in self-pity, and, well, I am--it's because I pity myself so much that I don't feel the need to ask for pity from anyone else."" Pity, anger, rage are all in Fellows's story, but very little else.

Pub Date: Dec. 11th, 1998
ISBN: 0312253648
Page count: 224pp
Publisher: St. Martin's