Three Came Home

Three Came Home

Agnes Newton Keith / Feb 17, 2020

Three Came Home Three Came Home tells of the author s time in Japanese POW and civilian internee camps in North Borneo and Sarawak and was made into a film of the same name in It describes Keith s life in North

  • Title: Three Came Home
  • Author: Agnes Newton Keith
  • ISBN: 9780771045028
  • Page: 210
  • Format: Paperback
  • Three Came Home tells of the author s time in Japanese POW and civilian internee camps in North Borneo and Sarawak, and was made into a film of the same name in 1950 It describes Keith s life in North Borneo in the period immediately before the Japanese invasion in 1942, and her subsequent internment and suffering, separated from her husband Harry, and with a young son Three Came Home tells of the author s time in Japanese POW and civilian internee camps in North Borneo and Sarawak, and was made into a film of the same name in 1950 It describes Keith s life in North Borneo in the period immediately before the Japanese invasion in 1942, and her subsequent internment and suffering, separated from her husband Harry, and with a young son to care for Keith was initially interned at Berhala Island near Sandakan, North Borneo today s Sabah but spent most of her captivity at Batu Lintang camp at Kuching, Sarawak The camp was liberated in September, 1945.

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    About "Agnes Newton Keith"

      • Agnes Newton Keith

        Agnes Keith was born in 1901 in Illinois but grew up in Hollywood long before Tinsel Town became what it is today In 1934 she married Henry Harry George Keith, an Englishman whom she had first met as a childhood friend of her brother Harry was on leave from Sandakan where he had lived since 1925 and where he served as Conservator of Forests, Director of Agriculture, and Curator of the Museum for the government of British North Borneo Sandakan then was the capital of North Borneo, a territory that was an anomaly, governed by a company, the British North Borneo Chartered Company Agnes accompanied Harry back to Sandakan where she was introduced to the life of a memsahib in an isolated British colonial community in an exotic land Over the next five years, Agnes documented her observations and experiences in a highly personal series of articles that were published in her first book Land Below the Wind that won the Atlantic Monthly annual prize for non fiction in 1939 Agnes writes with sensitivity and humour, capturing the essence of colonial life from the perspective of an American expat and describing the local people Chinese, Murut, and Malay with affection and sympathy As the book draws to a close and the Keiths prepare to leave Sandakan on home leave after five years, the ominous clouds of war are looming, illustrated by an accidental encounter between the young daughter of the Chinese consul, a neighbor of the Keiths, and the Japanese consul and his wife who are guests for tea at the Keith house After their leave, the Keiths returned to Sandakan where their son George was born Soon they were engulfed by war and the family of three was interned with the small British community, first in a camp on Pulau Berhala off Sandakan and then at the notorious Batu Lintang camp near Kuching, Sarawak, where Agnes and little George were separated from Harry until the war ended and liberation came in 1945 All through their captivity Agnes secretly kept notes of their horrific experience that were published after the war in her second book Three Came Home made into a film in 1950 starring Claudette Colbert Agnes, Harry, and George returned to Sandakan after the war and rebuilt their house that had been destroyed in the war Their subsequent years in North Borneo were the subject of Agnes s third book, White Man Returns


    1. I stumbled upon this accidentally. My husband surprised me one Christmas with a set of books sold by the case from Little Brown Publishing, probably clearing out their warehouse. They were all old, mostly first-edition hardbacks of young adult novels and mysteries. I picked this up expecting a quick read - a little drama, a little mystery, a little diversion. Surprised, I discovered instead a true journalistic account of a mother's three year imprisonment, along with her husband and toddler in a [...]

    2. I was reminded of this book today while reading a review of another book set in the same time period and circumstances. I believe I read this book when I was in junior high or high school, about 50 years ago, and my memory of it is still strong enough for the 4* rating. A reread is probably in order at some point but I believe a memory that strong certainly justifies adding it to my list of "read" books with a comment.Thanks to Tara Masih's review of The Flamboya Tree: Memories of a Mother's War [...]

    3. This is Agnes Keith's account of spending three years in a Japanese camp on the island of Borneo in the South Pacific during World War II. She is a gifted writer, able to create a candid portrait of internees and captors alike. My bookmark had ample space for jotting down new (to me) vocabulary. Listing the words within context will convey the feel of the book.My vocabulary list tour through the book:Offal (pg. 141) "The new camp site was to be over the excrement pits of the soldiers' camps, whe [...]

    4. Agnes Newton Keith was an American who, in the early 1940s, was married to a Brit who was the Conservator of Forests and Director of Agriculture in Civil Service in North Borneo. As the war moved closer, there was no official evacuation of any American, British or European women and children. Agnes Keith chose to stay with her husband and they, along with their young son, were interned by the Japanese from January 1942 until September 1945.Keith had already written a novel about Borneo that had [...]

    5. I bought this because it was in the same vein as the Santo Tomas Internment books I've been reading, though this book has nothing to do with the Philippines. It's a book about American and British civilians interned by the Japanese in Borneo, at around the same time, World War II. The writing is beautiful — very lyrical, poetic, with very long sentences, which I like. Lovely descriptions. Author is very understanding, sympathetic, so much more forgiving than I can imagine anyone to be in that [...]

    6. Agnes Keith's story of her imprisonment in a Borneo internment camp by the Japanese during WW II is awe inspiring and amazing in so many ways. She presents her three plus years of captivity in all its horrible details but she doesn't ask the reader to feel sorry for her - more to gain strength from what she and her young son George went through and how they survived. Her civil-service British husband is kept in an adjacent camp and his situation and those of British and Australian POWs are heart [...]

    7. Devoured this book in two days. It is beautifully written, with so much compassion, love and sadness. Keith offers a brutal account of her days as a prisoner of war in Japanese-captured Borneo, which she recorded down and carefully hid on bits of scrap paper at much peril. I did not feel that she was prejudiced against her Japanese captors as much as she was greatly saddened by war itself, and hate. She presents here the terrible conditions of which she survived in great detail, and I couldn't h [...]

    8. Life in a Japanese prison camp in Borneo. Humanity and inhumanity of war. Author writes fairly about everyone, including the Japanese guards. Astonishing and touching book, and one I'm surprised hasn't been heard of more.

    9. An amazing story of this woman's discovery in a Japanese Prison Camp during WWII that hatred was self-destructive and love was more powerful than hate. Here are a couple of quotes that I appreciated: p. 149 "Thinking was sometimes the way to wisdom, when bitter realities could be left behind in the foretasting of dreams and ambitions; but sometimes it was the way to destruction, when one was overwhelmed in an agony of despair."p. 231-2 "Each one of us was beginning to know that it is not enough [...]

    10. This book made me realize that I have never had anything to complain about. I appreciated the author's candid voice and honesty. This book revolves around the themes of suffering. Violence, pain, sadness and hunger are woven into Keith's account of being a prisoner of war. I found some typos and had to resist the urge to edit.

    11. My parents had an old hardcover copy of this book around our house for years. I often thought about reading it but never did. I found this trade paperback copy at a thrift store a couple of years ago and finally got around to it. Sorry I put this off for so long. This was a very compelling account of the author's (Agnes Keith) imprisonment by the Japanese during WWII. She and her husband, Harry were assigned to a post in Borneo at the start of the war. Harry was the director of agriculture for t [...]

    12. I really enjoyed this book probably for two reasons - I like war history from the human rather than military perspective and I live in Kuching where part of the book was set. I also went googling extensively after I'd finished the book because the author makes no mention of a step-daughter (Harry had a daughter born in 1927 - probably to a local woman) and with all the prose about the importance of family etc, I thought it unusual that the daughter is not mentioned anywhere. It seems she had bee [...]

    13. Written in 1946, it is a true story about a family captured by the Japanese. It was also made into a movie.

    14. I came to this book from the bibliography in "Ghost Soldiers" which covered the rescue of POWs from Camp Cabanatuan in the Philippines. This is a memoir by Agnes Newton Smith about the imprisonment of her husband Harry, her and their toddler George in the POW camps in Boreno. Her husband was a British civil servant in Agriculture. All would eventually end up in Kuching Prison Camp, which housed both the civilians that were rounded up when Borneo fell to the Japanese, and Australian and British P [...]

    15. Agnes Newton Keith was taken prisoner in North Borneo, along with her husband and son, in 1942 and remained "interned" until September 1945. During those three years, she and her little boy were separated from her husband, and starved nearly to death by the "honorable" wardens of their captivity. Agnes herself was beaten on various occasions, most notably when she dared to report an attempted sexual assault committed by one of her captors. What makes all of this even more creepy, if that were po [...]

    16. Any story of being imprisoned in a Japanese POW camp during World War 2 is bound to be horrifying and compelling, but this one is exactly that---and more, due to the fact that it covers life in a woman's POW camp, a point of view not normally described in POW memoirs (since they're mostly written by male soldiers or civilians)[If I'm wrong about that please let me know!].Agnes Newton Keith writes matter-of-factly the details of life in Borneo before, during, and after capture by the Japanese, th [...]

    17. Very much a book of it's time. I found it a real challenge to get my head around teh vocabulary used when speaking about different races of people as pretty much every term used is not acceptable language these days.This made me disconnect somewhat when reading it as it made me feel uncomfortable. That being said, the terminology isn't used in a racist/derrogatory sense but feels blunt at times, no surprise when a nation is holding you captive and treating you so badly.This book is another that [...]

    18. The second book in the Borneo trilogy, Agnes Newton Keith covers the four years that she, her husband and young son spent as prisoners/internees in the Japanese POW camps on the island of Borneo. Keith’s son was only two years old when they were rounded up and interned. She and her husband were segregated – men on one camp, women and children in another. With amazing grace and fortitude and without bitterness or anger, Keith shares the story of her life living in inhumane conditions in the c [...]

    19. The inspiration for TV series 'Tenko', 17 March 2015This review is from: Three Came Home (Mass Market Paperback)When the Second World War broke out in the East, the author was a popular author, living a privileged colonial life in Borneo, with her civil servant husband and toddler son. Refusing opportunities to escape back to the USA, she found herself in a series of Japanese camps with other women and children . Ms Keith relays everyday life for them - ever-decreasing rations, only made tolerab [...]

    20. This book was such an important testament to human courage and perseverance! As Agnes, her husband Harry and small son George are taken captive by the Japanese during World War II, the years ahead hold struggle, fear and overwhelming obstacles. Harry is placed in the men's camp, to undergo the horrors of internment. Agnes and little George, with the other women and 23 other children, learn to survive in the women's camp. They bargain and steal food for themselves and especially their children. T [...]

    21. As the other reviews mentioned this is a true story of a woman POW and her child who were interned by the Japanese during WWll. Some of the things that amazed me about her story were first - her respect and understanding of the Japanese - second - her clear and un-melodramatic writing and three - her will to survive. I picked this book up on a used book rack and liked it so much I put it in my school library. Big surprise - the movie with Claudette Colbert and Sessue Hayakawa was really good and [...]

    22. "I know now the value of freedom"- Outstanding memoir worthy of all the praise and awards given. I usually note memorable sections or parts of the books that hit home and stay with me but there was just too much. Every word was a gem. Eye opening, humbling, touching, tragic.Keeps my life in perspective as I take my hot showers, eat my fresh food, go to the doctor, take vitamins, wear my clean clothes, look at the roof over my head as I lay in the comfort of my warm bed. Such strength and resilie [...]

    23. This book, despite its sort of grim subject matter (the family of three was interned in a Japanese POW camp during WWII), is actually a page-turner and very moving. The author and her toddler son lived for over three years in a series of prison camps, and she vividly describes the world of such camps as few have ever done, and it's especially interesting to me as the mother of a boy the same age as her son was at the time. Their whole family survived and was reunited at the end, so at least you [...]

    24. With her husband and then two year old son, Keith was incarcerated in a Japanese POW camp in North Borneo during WWII. The book is a detailed view of the cruelties endured but Evidence not seen: a woman's miraculous faith in a Japanese prison camp during WWII by Darlene Diebler Rose offers faith as the medium for survival. Keith's admonitions as to the evils of war seems to ignore what should be done when one side won't play nice.

    25. If you were inspired by Unbroken, then you need to read this book as well. I read it years ago and it is a story that has stayed with me ever since. The human spirit is a powerful thing and that is demonstrated in this story. What is unique about this book is that the author was a worker before the war and had a talent for story telling. This is a first person account of life in a work camp in Borneo during WWII from a woman's and mother's perspective. Very powerful and inspiring.

    26. This is the true story of a woman who was interned in Borneo with her family and others during WWII. This personally-written story was very interesting and informative, and you do care for the characters. It's not the most engagingly written, but is still good. (And you get the feeling that this down-to-earth woman _could_ have written more "interestingly," more dramatically if she'd wanted to .)

    27. This is an incredible true story of an American woman and her son who were living in Sandakan, North Borneo, during WWII when the Japanese overran Borneo. She and her newborn son were sent to one internment (prison) camp and her husband to another. Her story of how she kept her son and herself alive for four years in a hard labor camp it a tribute to human endurance. I could not put the book down until the very end.

    28. Good true story--during World War 2, when the Japanese invade, all the foreign (ie Western) people are taken prisoner, families separated and made to live in camps. Interesting examination of what it was like trying to make it through the war without starving, dying of malaria or being turned into 'comfort women' (basically prostitutes for the Japanese soldiers) and without knowing how the husbands are doing.

    29. Three Came Home is the best book I've yet read about WW2. Keith and her husband were separated when placed in prisoner of war camps, their young son staying with her for the duration. Of course there was little food and little nourishment in what was allotted them: Keith hopes the vitamin supplements she'd smuggled in will keep her son healthy despite the privation. Somehow, all do survive the war. A magnificent book, unfortunately forgotten for more than a half century.

    30. I was excited to start this book because I love historical accounts of any kind-especially World War 2. Yet for some reason this book did not catch my attention. I finally figured out that I just could not personally connect with the narrator. I know that what she went through was tragic and awful and the fact that she was able to move on with her life was amazing. Since I couldn't connect, I lost interest.

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