F Spencer Chapman Biography

Discussion in 'The Book Club' started by schweik, Oct 21, 2009.

Welcome to the Army Rumour Service, ARRSE

The UK's largest and busiest UNofficial military website.

The heart of the site is the forum area, including:

  1. This one is going straight on my Christmas list. If I can wait that long, which I probably can't.


    I think I may pull Chapman's own book "The Jungle is Neutral" off the shelf and give that another read, too. For those of you who have not read it: find it, buy it and read it. It is awesome.
  2. Thanks for the heads up.
  3. Andy_S

    Andy_S LE Book Reviewer

    'The Jungle is Neutral' has acheived classic status, but that always rather puzzled me. OK, according to Wiki:

    Chapman remained a thorn in the Japanese side, accounting for no less that seven trains, fifteen bridges and forty motor vehicles and the killing of some hundreds of Japanese troops in a short period of time at the beginning of Japanese occupation

    However, MY recall of the book is that Spencer Chapman and his chums did not really DO a lot - they were sick from various jungle diseases most of the time - bar evading the Japanese. Much of his success in his E&E endeavours must go to the indigenous guerillas; likewise, his tactical successes.

    Perhaps I should dust off the book...
  4. Spencer Chapman was a certainly a brave man but there was quite some doubt, not least among ex-Force 136 people, that some of his exploits detailed in his book actually happened.

    The Jungle is Neutral is certainly one of the books of the Second World War but for more low-key narratives of life behind the Japanese lines, a couple of books that I found worth reading are 'Red Jungle' the story of John Cross a Royal Signals WO who led a stay-behind party and 'A Fearful Freedom' the story of Jim (sorry, can't recall his last name without digging out the book), a soldier from the Royal Norfolk Regiment who evaded capture and eventually teamed up with Cross's party.
  5. Read the review in the Sundays looks like a must read for a history geek like me
  6. Sunday Times covers a lot of the same ground as The Guardian


    There's something slightly inhuman about that level of determination. I've always thought that (for example) Graeme Obree's ability to hurt himself on the bike was not unconnected with his health problems. In the case of F. Spencer Chapman you've got to think that his childhood did something to him. It would be interesting to run a research project on people who can endure to discover what they have in common. Early trauma would be my guess - resulting in something quite close to (but not) passive suicidal tendencies.

    [Zo, dell me about your mudder :) ]
  7. mysteron

    mysteron LE Book Reviewer

    Heard about this on R4 the other day. Sounds fascinating. The description given made Mr Chapman sound like an amazing man. On the Crimbo list!
  8. seaweed

    seaweed LE Book Reviewer

    For me the memorable bit in Chapman's book (read years ago) was where he asks his hosts what sort of tasty monkey is in the stewpot. Answer, 'Jap'.