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Pierre Boulle

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Pierre Boulle (February 20, 1912 - January 30, 1994) was a French novelist.

Born Pierre-Franois-Marie-Louis Boulle in Avignon, France, he trained as an engineer. From 1936 to 1939 he worked as a technician on British rubber plantations in Malaya. At the outbreak of World War II Boulle enlisted with the French army in French Indochina, and after German troops occupied France he joined the Free French Mission in Singapore.

He served as a secret agent under the name Peter John Rule and helped the resistance movement in China, Burma and French Indochina. In 1943 he was captured by the Vichy France loyalists on the Mekong River. While a prisoner, he was subjected to severe hardship and forced labor. He was made a chevalier of the Lgion d'Honneur and decorated with the Croix de Guerre and the Medal of the Resistance.

For a while after the war, he returned to work in the rubber industry but moved back to Paris, where he began to write. Using his experiences in the war, he wrote The Bridge over the River Kwai which became a multi-million worldwide bestseller, winning the French "Prix Sainte-Beuve". The book was a dramatization of the plight of Allied POWs forced to build a 415-km (258-mile) railway which became known as the "Death Railway" and passed over the bridge. Thousands of prisoners died during construction of the line. David Lean made Boulle's story into a motion picture - entitled Bridge on the River Kwai - that won several Oscars including the 1957 Academy Award for Best Picture.

In 1963, following several other reasonably successful novels, Pierre Boulle wrote his other famous novel, first published in France as La Planète des Singes, and a year later in the United Kingdom in an English translation entitled Monkey Planet - later to be known as Planet of the Apes. In 1968 this story was made into another Oscar-winning movie, starring Charlton Heston.

Pierre Boulle died in Paris, France on January 30, 1994.

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