Book Review: 4000 Days: My Life and Survival in a Bangkok Prison

" 4000 Days: My Life and Survival in a Bangkok Prison " is a autobiography of Warren Fellows, an Australian drug smuggler who was caught in 1970s in Thailand and sentenced to life in prison. It would appear that the book was also published under the title “ The Damage Done: Twelve Years of Hell in a Bangkok Prison ”.

This is a pretty eye opening story to the horrors and reality of the penal system in other countries. There is no cable TV, no nice pillow or even a bed. There are straw mats, if you’re lucky, and prisoners crammed into very tight cells. In the U.S. solitary confinement is being put into a small cell with little to no light by yourself. In Thailand it’s being put into a cell with a dozen or more other men with NO light and barely enough room for people to breathe. The men had to take turns standing, sitting and stretching their legs. For an hour a day they would be let out of solitary to eat filth. Oh, and when you were sent to solitary it was for 90 days.

The general population of the prison was hardly better off. Fellows talks of rampant drug usage, horrific stories of torture and just a treatment of human beings worse than the bugs that infested the prisons. Throughout the story you get glimpses into the life (if you can call it that) of these prisoners. Fellows was sentenced with two other men and he tells of their story as well, to a point.

The book itself is somewhat jumbled. Like James Avery was saying it seems that autobiographies are like that. Most of the book seems to be in a linear time line with some deviations. Of course, with what went on there I’m surprised he has much recollection at all, let alone the order in which it occurred. The writing isn’t the best either; however, it did keep my attention very well and I finished it over a weekend basically.

There were descriptions of incidents that later I can recall seeing in movies like Brokedown Palace. Obviously the movie pulled from these types of stories. It’s one thing to see this in a movie, it’s another to actually read that it has occurred to people.

Overall I think it was a decent book. I wouldn’t have picked it up myself, but I went to dinner with a couple who is friends with my wife and the husband recommended it. He’s in law enforcement and has a job where he spends a LOT of time waiting around so get to read quite a bit. I’d recommend it if you have a decently strong stomach.