Published by
Little Brown (2015-05-05)
Current material
Final Pages
Original language


One Man, One Dog, and Their Incredible Story of Courage and Survival in WWII

by Weintraub, Robert

NO BETTER FRIEND tells the unbelievable but true story of the relationship between a dog and a soldier, formed in a Japanese internment camp during World War II. She was the only dog to be granted POW status during the war, in any theater. They saved one another's lives on countless occasions and the dog's uncanny ability to escape the wrath of the camp guards gave the other prisoners a reason to think they could survive too. With the war's end they return to a heroes welcome in England.

Few stories can match that of RAF technician Frank Williams and Judy, a purebred pointer, who met in a Japanese internment camp during WWII. Williams was the last in a sequence of men from the British military to care for a dog who was originally adopted onto a British gunboat patrolling the Yangtze in 1936. Judy was a fiercely loyal animal with a sixth sense for danger and an instinctive hatred and mistrust of anyone in a Japanese Imperial uniform.
And the events that led her to WIlliams are nearly as astounding as the story of their relationship in a brutal camp conditions. The camp environment allowed them to perfect a series of calls and signals which would prove invaluable in Judy evading detection during transport. And Williams risked his life to appeal to the camp commander to make Judy an official POW (the one and only canine POW in WWII), a bold gambit which confounded later commanders and saved her life.
Their relationship deepened as their hardships worsened. Forced to lay tracks for a railway through the jungle the prisoners suffered severe beatings which Judy would interrupt with ferocious barking before dashing back into the jungle. Every time Judy disappeared or they were separated Frank never knew if she had finally dodged her last bullet. But she always returned to find him and, indeed, the dog became a beacon for the other prisoners who saw in her survival a flicker of hope for their own. If Judy can do it, we can do it too, they said. Judy's ferocious barking from the middle of the camp roused the prisoners one morning. The Japanese were gone. They had survived and help was on the way.
Judy and Frank returned to England to a heroes welcome. She was awarded the Dicken Medal, the animal version of the Victoria Cross, the highest honor in the realm. She and Frank began a goodwill tour of injured soldiers to lift their spirits as they recovered physically and emotionally. They moved to Africa where Frank began work on an agricultural program and where, ultimately, Judy would die, seven years after they'd met. Judy was buried in her RAF jacket and a devastated Frank gathered marble to create a monument for her. He would never own another dog for the rest of his life.

Robert Weintraub is a frequent contributor to The New York Times, Slate, The Guardian, Deadspin, and many more. He is the author of THE VICTORY SEASON (Little, Brown, 2013) and THE HOUSE THAT RUTH BUILT (Little, Brown, 2011). Weintraub has lived and worked in Hong Kong, Singapore, and Sydney and lives now in Decatur, Georgia.

Available rights (1)

Language Territory Type Vendor Status
German World All

Mohrbooks Literary Agency
Sebastian Ritscher

Available View on Rightsdesk


A selection of ELLE readers chose NO BETTER FRIEND as their #1 pick of the best books for June.

Quote: Elle

f Judy was a fictional dog in a novel, I would dismiss it as impossibly unbelievable. But Judy was a real dog in a well-documented work of nonfiction… In my opinion, this is the best dog book since the uber best-selling Marley and Me.

Review: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

NO BETTER FRIEND, by Robert Weintraub is #2 on the NYT Animals Bestseller list. 22.6.15

Quote: NYT Bestsellerlist


Quote: British Forces Broadcasting Service

Weintraub, whose previous books have focused on sports, here combines a gritty war story with a warm dog story — readers who like both will think they have gone to heaven… Where he truly excels, though, is in finding the human dramas, some painful and some inspiring, that figured in Judy’s saga.

Review: The Boston Globe

Exceptionally well researched and engaging… No Better Friend is an inspiring story, and one that both dog lovers and history buffs will embrace.

Review: Bookpage

No Better Friend personifies the relationship we all aspire to have with our dogs, and takes us on a harrowing journey to a place and time lost in the history books. A must read for every dog or animal lover.

Quote: Robin Hutton

...the most inspiring true life account I've ever read of a human-animal bond.

Review: NPR’s Fresh Air

The dog who risked all to save 'secret' prisoners of the Second World War.

Review: The Telegraph (UK)

We may have a best-seller on our hands with this carefully reported saga… The narrative of their survival thoroughly won over both readers who ordinarily shun animal stories and those who generally prefer to avoid reading books about war.

Review: Elle

Both a testament to animal intelligence and a much-overdue account of canine sacrifice and service, No Better Friend is also masterfully told. Soaring and graceful, Weintraub’s narrative reclaims the history of two unlikely heroes— in a tale that is the stuff of which Hollywood blockbusters are built.

Quote: Mim Eichler Rivas

China:FLTRP, Spain:El Ateneo, Poland: Replika, Russia:Eksmo

Quote: Chase

An unusual and moving story … With bite and substance, Slate columnist Weintraub … chronicles Judy's incredible life. …. By mutual trust and aid, dog and man survived several brutal Japanese camps together, braving hunger, sadistic guards, snakes, and tigers. Weintraub's research on the prisoners' experiences in the camps is remarkable as he narrates Judy and Frank's heroic tale.

Review: Kirkus

Bookreporter ran a review of NO BETTER FRIEND highlighting “harrowing descriptions" and calling the book "(a) paean to a remarkable dog.

Review: Bookreporter

Robert Weintraub captures the beauty and power of friendship and loyalty between man and animal in this captivating narrative. We'd all be lucky to have a dog like Judy by our sides in our darkest times.

Quote: Cate Lineberry

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