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?