Fellows, Warren 1953–
Fellows, Warren 1953–
PERSONAL: Born 1953, in Australia.
ADDRESSES: Home—Sydney, Australia. Agent—c/o Author Mail, St. Martin's Press, 175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010.
CAREER: Writer. Former drug smuggler.
4,000 Days: My Life and Survival in a Bangkok Prison, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY) 1998, published as The Damage Done: Twelve Years of Hell in a Bangkok Prison, Mainstream Publishing (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1999.
SIDELIGHTS: Former drug smuggler Warren Fellows documents his twelve years of imprisonment in Thailand in his book 4,000 Days: My Life and Survival in a Bangkok Prison. Fellows and two friends had been smuggling heroin from Thailand to his native Australia, hiding the drugs in high-tech suitcases, when they were caught and convicted of smuggling in 1978. Fellows spent part of his imprisonment in Bangkok's infamous Bang Kwang prison before being released on Christmas Day, 1989, through a king's pardon. In his book, Fellows, who was twenty-five years old at the time of his arrest, recounts the beatings and tortures he witnessed, including the caning to death of other prisoners. He was isolated, lived in filth, and was forced to eat rats. He and other inmates turned to heroin and other drugs, obtained from guards, to escape their nightmare.
When Fellows was finally released, he returned to Australia, where he dealt with the psychological repercussions of his ordeal. "I do not tell this story to bring pity on myself," Fellows explained to Manchester Guardian writer Stuart Millar, noting that he believes he deserved punishment but that the punishment he underwent was inhuman. He commented of his book: "I want kids to read it so they know never to get involved in drugs, because they will get caught. And I want parents to read it so they know what can happen."
Writing in the Library Journal, Gregory A. Preston noted that Fellows' reluctance to write his story, "coupled with an understandable tone of self-pity, results in a rather flat, circumscribed narrative." A Publishers Weekly contributor wrote that although the book "suffers from jumbled passages and poor structure, it proves compelling." In a review for Booklist, Gilbert Taylor called the book a "compelling testimonial about risk, responsibility, and human rights." Jonathan Yardley, writing in the Washington Post, commented, "Without self-pity, he makes a compelling case that his punishment was wildly out of proportion to his crime."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Fellows, Warren, 4,000 Days: My Life and Survival in a Bangkok Prison, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY) 1998.
Booklist, November 15, 1998, Gilbert Taylor, review of 4,000 Days: My Life and Survival in a Bangkok Prison, p. 550.
Guardian (Manchester, England), April 15, 1998, Stuart Millar, "Inside Story: Days of Heroin and a Living Hell: Should We Care about Drugs Smugglers Who've Been Caught?," p. T8.
Library Journal, November 1, 1998, Gregory A. Preston, review of 4,000 Days, p. 112.
New Statesman, June 12, 1998, review of The Damage Done: Twelve Years of Hell in a Bangkok Prison, p. 48.
Publishers Weekly, November 9, 1998, review of 4,000 Days, p. 63.
Washington Post, December 9, 1998, Jonathan Yardley, review of 4,000 Days, p. D2.