ISBN 978-0-9560740-1-0 CD cover imageThe Colonel of Tamarkan

Philip Toosey and The Bridge on the River Kwai

By Julie Summers

Read by Anton Lesser
Abridged by Neville Teller

Produced by Roy McMillan
Music recorded by Shannon Harris

A Daily Telegraph audiobook of 2009

Runner-up Best Audiobooks of the Year 2010

Broadcast on BBC Radio 7 – April 2010
Radio choice: The Daily Telegraph

The Colonel of Tamarkan by Julie Summers – Read by Anton Lesser

A remarkable tribute to a forgotten British hero.

Alec Guinness won an Oscar for his portrayal of Colonel Nicholson in The Bridge on the River Kwai but, as Julie Summers reveals in this brilliant and moving biography, his role bore scant resemblance to the facts.  The real officer in charge of the bridge-building was her grandfather, Philip Toosey.  In The Colonel of Tamarkan, Julie Summers draws upon first-hand interviews with those who knew and fought alongside her grandfather as well as family archives to create a remarkable tribute to a forgotten British hero.

The story of the Death Railway is at its most poignant when told first-hand.  During the course of researching The Colonel of Tamarkan, Julie Summers spoke to many former Far Eastern prisoners-of-war and was always moved by their personal accounts.  Her grandfather, Philip Toosey, died in 1975 so she never heard him speak of it, but Anton Lesser brings colour and empathy to Toosey’s experiences in a way she had hardly dared hope possible.  ‘Hearing The Colonel of Tamarkan come alive through Anton Lesser’s reading has been one of the most exciting experiences I can recall.  He succeeds in capturing Toosey’s humour, his mental toughness and his honesty, but also his despair when the prisoner-of-war camps were bombed by the RAF in 1944.’

The Colonel of Tamarkan– Philip Toosey and The Bridge on the River Kwai by Julie Summers was first published in Great Britain by Simon & Schuster UK Ltd in 2005.  It attracted praise from historians and the military on its publication in 2005.  Robert van Maier of the Pacific War Study Group called it ‘Essential reading for anyone interested in the history of the Second World War . . . an important work about a truly great and noble man’ and General Sir Peter de la Billière commented: ‘ . . . seldom have I been so impressed and moved by a story.  It is the telling that gives him the justice and understanding that he so richly deserves.’

The abridged audio version of The Colonel of Tamarkan was published by Chrome Audio in August 2009 and broadcast on BBC Radio 7 in April 2010.  The producer was Roy Macmillan.  The music was recorded and composed by Shannon Harris – our thanks to Boosey & Hawkes for giving us permission to use the Colonel Bogey march by Kenneth J Alford.

julie-summersJulie Summers is a writer, historian and broadcaster with a particular interest in the Second World War.  Her other books include Remembered – A History of the Commonwealth War Graves Commission and Stranger in the House – Women’s Stories of Men Returning from the Second World War (released as an audiobook by Chrome Audio in 2008).  Julie is currently working on a book about returning evacuees.  She lives in Oxford.

anton-lesserAnton Lesser has performed widely on stage, in film and on television. He has played many leading roles with the RSC, where he is an Associate Artist, and is particularly well-known for his spoken word and radio work.  His recordings include Paradise Lost, the Odyssey and Great Expectations, which won a Talkie Award.

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