Books: Test of Humanity

THE NAKED ISLAND (286 pp.)—Russell Braddon—Doubleday ($3.50).

Russell Reading Braddon, an artillery gunner with Australia's 8th Division, spent his 21st birthday with both feet in a grave. It was early 1942, and he had been captured by the Japanese as they slithered through Malaya like lizards, chewing up the paper-thin defenses of Britain's "naked island" fortress, Singapore. Singapore fell, but Gunner Braddon lived, not to fight but to write another day. The result is a gutty, scalp-raising account of the "war of capitulation" in Southeast Asia, and the best book of its kind since F. Spencer Chapman's The Jungle Is Neutral (TIME,...