James Clavell, King Rat: about a Japanese POW camp in which one prisoner, a pathetic loser before the war, who became the most powerful man in the camp by trading with the enemy and exploiting the misery of his fellows. He used to try to pressure the other prisoners to join him, calling them fools for holding onto their ideals in the midst of the corruption which had become the way of life for the surrounding peoples.
When the Japanese surrendered and the American troops liberated the camps, the prisoners streamed out into the first freedom and safety they had known for years, a freedom and safety that they had feared was gone forever, a freedom and safety which many had died without seeing. and even as they rejoiced, this man - the King Rat - sat alone in the center of the deserted camp and wept, because his power and influence were gone forever.
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