Comments on The Damage Done by Warren Fellows, (12 yrs of Hell in a Bangkok Prison)


I broke down and bought a paperback book last night at a used bookstore. My plan was to go and read as many books that were written about Thailand as they had – and get an idea what kind of writers are out there. I found a couple fiction writers that I liked, but overall I wasn’t excited about anything.

Then I went to the non-fiction side and saw this book that I’d read excerpts of over the years – a couple pages every time I picked it up in a bookstore. I decided last night that the price was right and it’d be good reading for a night. 180 THB for a used copy.

The book “The Damage Done” by Warren Fellows, was really well written. It was a very easy read and descriptive enough that I have a good picture what the guy went through. Well, a good snapshot of it anyway. There were huge parts missing that bothered me by the end – but, no matter. They must not have been important to the guy.

I thought about the heat of the prison. Wouldn’t it be sizzling all year round there? He barely mentioned the heat. I guess one gets used to that pretty quickly. He didn’t mention much about how he went about learning Thai except that he picked up a phrase or two here and there and he’d listen intently when Thais’ spoke.

I’ve been here 3 years and only now can I speak so that everyone understands 90% of what I’m saying… and that’s only in BKK and the South, not in Isaan where the tones still screw me up. Admittedly I’m slow in language acquisition but still I had to try from books for a couple years to really ‘get it’.

He didn’t say much about suicide except that a lot of guys OD’ed on drugs in the prison. Were those suicides for the most part? Surely there must be a couple hundred people per year killing themselves in those huge prisons.

The conditions in the prison were appalling, but they didn’t seem that bad really. He didn’t write much about the good things that happened – the positive things that must have happened, as he wanted to focus on the negative… but there had to be a little more than what he mentioned that kept him and others ‘going’ there for so long. He was there twelve years. Man! That’s a lifetime. No, 5 lifetimes when you spend it without freedom.

He tells a lot about the heroin that’s available within the prison. The same thing that he was trying to bring from Thailand to Australia and that he was sentenced to life for – was available at the prisons to buy. Is that nuts?

What was the Thai guard so angry about – the one who moonlighted as a taxi cab driver in BKK when he wasn’t at the prison? I’d like to know more about what he thought about that. I’ve never seen a cruel Thai person. They must exist… but where are they in general society? I’ve not met any. Sure I don’t dick people around as a rule, so maybe I’ve just been lucky.  I’ve met guys that have been in Thai jails and they seem respectful on the outside. Not angry. Not out to get me or anyone. They seem pretty calm. I’ve not been drinking with them… maybe that has something to do with it.

How many foreign prisoners were in the prison? I’d like to know how many from France, Germany, England, the USA, Canada, Mexico, all over… even Laos, Cambodia, China, etc. There was no mention of any guess at the total numbers but some guys where introduced from various countries as the book went on.

Anyway, overall the book was great reading. I think it took me over two hours to read the two-hundred pages. The book was so well worded that pages flew by. It wasn’t crammed full of extra information that makes reading a Tom Clancy book such an intensive effort. The nice size print on white pages helped quite a bit too. I hate grey type on off-color white pages.

It was just really nice reading about a most tragic experience.

Ok, if you want it – let me know I’ll send it out to you. Update – I don’t have it any longer.

Anybody read “Escape” yet? Richard Barrows told me about that one – and even interviewed the guy that wrote it. I’ve not read it yet.

Did you read THE DAMAGE DONE? What’d you think?

Author: Vern

I'm an American expat living in Thailand. I like to write informative pieces about life in, living in Thailand, including topics like: Thai People, Thai Culture, Nightlife, Technology, and I have published a lot of photographs, videos, and even books on Thailand that you can find at ThailandeBooks.com. There are many photographs of Thailand here - feel free to share with attribution (a link back to the home page). All written content on this site by Vern Lovic. Contact me at Google+.

34 thoughts on “Comments on The Damage Done by Warren Fellows, (12 yrs of Hell in a Bangkok Prison)”

  1. I found this book to be short, sweet and to the point……..and wish Warren all the best for the future. Knowing and reading about his ordeal has made me realise how strong the human mind and body can be. Well done, and thank you for sharing your horrific but brave story with us!

  2. I think its very funny that people can read the book and make comments like “ah well he was a smack dealer” or “don’t do the crime if you cant do the crime” what is that? Yeah he was dealing drugs but in the end of the day its not like he was a mass murder (and dont give all this crap about “well drugs kill people so technically he was killing people” the responsibility is in the hands of the drug user not the dealer)
    As for him “over exaggerating” come on i highly doubt that anyone on this page could make it through what he did and if they did they prob wouldn’t have the stones to right a book about how they suffered.
    The tale about his lost love in india was to show how reckless he was before he got caught.
    I too am interested in whether or not prisons like this still exists (and im sure they do) It seems sad that this kinda brutality towards other human begins happens and even more sad to see how easily people can be sucked into that frame of mind of just total power trip. I think the book was amazing, i read it in four hours, when it was finished i read it again. It makes me appreciate all i have, things i took for granted and it helps me to see that i people can survive everything. I dont view the book as a negative thing i think it can be very positive for people to read.

  3. I read this book in a record time for me! 2 days! I can not get it out of my head! Although I do have thoughts of Warren being guilty of the crime and he had been doing it for a long time; I cant believe the way he was treated in ther prison hell holes he found himself in! I can only say to “Warren that he is the strongest person I have ever heard of. I work in a phycatric hospital in Scotland( I am a nurse) and I have seen a lot of horrible mind blowing things and have seen strong people come through some hard situations but nothing like what Warren had to go through! If I had deen in that situation I would too have became a herion addict but the difance is I would of taken enough to kill myself. You are an insparation to me and I will never get you out of my mind!
    KEEP ON KEEPING ON DUDE!

  4. The book is easy to read however let’s not forget why this book was written for the sheer experience of what Fellows endured throughout his 12 year imprisonment and Let’s also not forget why he was in jail in the first place and that is Greed, He got away with trafficking several times and felt he was untouchable. What makes me angry is that people feel sorry for this person because of his experiences in jail. Did you think jail time in Asia is going to be 5 star? You will be treated like an animal as you are seen as an animal and the guards and prison system do not care whether you live or die. Frankly I was rather annoyed when reading the book I felt the money I spent for the book was a waste. He won’t speak about his immediate family because they’re ashamed of him who wouldn’t? He knew the risks, he knew the consequences, but he was driven by greed! That is not something anyone should admire he is lucky that his alive. There are too many greeding people in the world and if anyone thinks they can get away with it then you obviously a moron and you will deserve what you get. People do struggle financially however this is not the way to make “easy” money there is no such thing it;s a matter of using your brains which Fellows never did. People will always learn from the hard way and he learnt his. Shame on the publisher for publishing this book it’s just a waste of people’s time. Like I wasted mine reading it. Why I bought it? I was stuck in transit waiting for a flight I should have proceeded to purchase a comic.

  5. my favourite part of the book is on the mutiny…. i find it weird that the army special force soldier would readily let the australian named bruce off while he killed his own fellow countryman by busting his brain open with the butt of his m16 when he tried to stand up to equal rights….

  6. the book is an excellent read, im not saying its particularly well-written but its an easy read and serves its purpose

    i think the people commenting here saying “shouldnt have done the crime anyway blah blah” are missing the point of the book. Warren Fellows wanted to share his ordeal, maybe partly as a type of psychological healing for himself or maybe perhaps to just let other people know the type of things they will face if taking part in such a crime as he got somehow involved in. throughout the whole book i never feel pity for Fellows but just disgust at what he and the other prisoners had to endure. no-one has the right to do what some of the guards indulged themselves in. they’re sadistic!

    throughout the whole book i liked Warren Fellows. he was obviously never a truely bad person. at the end of the day people who TAKE the heroin when its brought into a country are making their own decision…they’re not forced to take it so more fool them! he just got involved with the wrong people. the only thing that Warren Fellows was really guilty of is greed and a thirst for the adrenaline rush of doing something he knew he shouldnt. he never killed anyone, never even so much as hurt anyone and when in that prison showed bravery and compassion.

    as for the people who are saying ‘what about the good bits’ WTF are the stupid!! if there are guards putting people through this amount of torture, psychological and physical so you really think they’d have anything ‘good’ and did u not read that he tried committing suicide…but when you’re in that situation you dont want to let them win, you want to survive it all. the human body and mind can survive more than people think!

  7. hey vern it’s scotty from krabi. am reading the book now, googled it, and low and behold your site came up :) it is definitely worth reading for anyone traveling overseas, especially to a developing country (with developing prisons). though common sense goes a long way, i.e. smuggling heroin = not smart. i too got the feeling warran was embellishing a bit, but i have no doubt he experienced hell on earth, and certainly more than anyone could deserve for drug smuggling. yes criminals should be punished, but the punishment should fit the crime. i don’t think the book was particularly well-written, but it is a unique chance to catch a glimpse at a disturbingly dark part of life.

  8. Even if it is dealing smack. Why is it ok for afghans to do it? Because they are poor? There seem to be a lot of exceptions for the same type of crime.

  9. He was pointing out how horrible it was in the jails there in thailand. I think he is smart enough to know he wouldn’t get much sympathy from the type of crime he commited. The way they treat people in those thai jails is more of a crime than what he had done or was going to do to people.

  10. John Lloyd you are an absolute Toby “The book is a blinder”, is it hell, James Joyce would turn in his grave at that outlandish remark. The message is non existent. Searching for sympathy for dealing Smack come on mate. “The same misfortune” Are you suggesting he was unfortunate to have been caught ? You idiot. Prison isn’t meant to be fun its meant as a deterrent for people who think its a good idea to distribute heroin. You ought to be carefull they’ll lock you up again for some of your observations here.

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