The Prisoner's Cross


Christian - Historical Fiction
169 Pages
Reviewed on 02/08/2022
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Author Biography

I recently completed the book "The Prisoner's Cross", in retirement, in hopes of preserving my father's remarkable witness in the Japanese WW 2 POW camps. The book centers around a journal he kept in the camps, and a miracle involving a cross he recounts there. As a small town pastor of nearly forty years I have seen how sharing God's love and grace - uncorrupted by politics, sectarianism, and church institutionalism - could transform lives for the better. Often the only thing the men in the camps could share was this love and Grace, and it proved indispensable. Improved quality of life and survival rates, through mutual care, and transformative experiences provide ample proof of this; evidence based not on intellectual argument, or scientific verification, but lived experience.

    Book Review

Reviewed by Natalie Soine for Readers' Favorite

In The Prisoner's Cross by Peter B. Unger, Don Campbell returned from his summer job at the Ford plant in May 1993. Don’s father Jim, a Ford mechanic, and his mother Alberta came from a working-class background. Don and his sister Sue had been witness to Jim’s lifelong relationship with alcohol addiction and abusive behavior. A tragic accident brings pain, sorrow, and anger to the family. Don’s years of being bullied and traumatized cause him to become detached from people. After studying at a seminary, Don meets Jop de Vries, a bookstore owner and Japanese POW during the Second World War. Don had agreed to interview Jop who also grew up with an abusive father until he obtained a college degree, and then went to Indonesia in 1938. Jop shares with Don his experience in the POW camp and how it impacted on his life as a Christian.

Author Peter B. Unger produced The Prisoner's Cross based on his father's experiences in the Japanese WW2 POW camps. Peter shares how God's love and grace - uncorrupted by politics, sectarianism, and church institutionalism - could transform lives for the better. The story is professionally researched and beautifully written with an interesting array of characters from all walks of life including students, professors, POW soldiers, and their captors. The scenes and locations come to life in the story as Don joins the seminary and interviews Jop about his time in the POW camps. The Prisoner's Cross is a remarkable story, highly recommended to young and old.

K.C. Finn

The Prisoner’s Cross is a work of fiction in the Christian and historical subgenres. It is suitable for the general reading audience and was penned by author Peter B. Unger. Inspired by real events, the book recalls the journal of a soldier being held in one of the Japanese POW camps in the Second World War, in particular, a miracle witnessed by the prisoners that gave them solace in their faith during their difficult time in captivity. The book follows one of these soldiers who uses his experiences to guide him as he seeks to rebuild the faith of a young man he meets.

Inspired by a real-life miracle that took place, this book is a compelling and heartfelt account of faith in the real world. Using the device of Don Campbell, a student whose faith is failing him when he is shown the experiences of someone who survived the war in a POW camp, was an excellent way of exploring the ways that our faith can touch and shape our lives as we live them. Author Peter B. Unger has created a deeply relatable character in Don, one who struggles with things he feels he should not struggle with, and in doing so gives the story a beautiful grounding that makes it accessible to all readers, regardless of what stage they are in on their journey of faith. Overall, The Prisoner’s Cross is a dynamic and moving exploration of faith, what it can bring to us and what we need to do to get ourselves back on track when it wavers.

Joe Wisinski

The Prisoner's Cross by Peter B. Unger is a work of Christian historical fiction. The book is about his father’s experience in the Japanese WW2 prisoner of war camps. But before readers get to that part of the book, Unger describes the protagonist Don's early struggles with his religious faith, especially after a family tragedy. This recounting becomes pivotal to later events. Unger had access to a journal his father kept while a prisoner in the camps. It describes the brutal conditions in the camp, but also how the prisoners dealt with their terrible circumstances. Unger says the prisoners’ spirit helped improve their quality of life and survival rates. The book is based on real events and individuals, although names have been fictionalized. Unger says he wrote it to honor his father and the powerful influence he had on fellow prisoners.

The Prisoner's Cross by Peter B. Unger has something for everyone. No matter if readers are Christians, seekers of religious faith, or former Christians, they’ll find Don’s questions and internal battles of interest. And everyone should know about conditions in the Japanese WW2 prisoner of war camps. The Japanese camps are less well known than their German counterparts, but the situation was no less horrifying. Yet the prisoners showed enormous courage and fortitude. Many continued to practice their faith in the most difficult of circumstances. Their spirit and bravery will inspire readers and encourage them in their own beliefs. This book is ultimately a recounting of triumph over tragedy.