He's best known for his book Shogun, but the rest of The Asian Saga is just as great. James Clavell was raised by a British military family, but gained citizenship in the states later in his life. He participated in World War II as a Royal Artillery Captain. Captured by the Japanese, he spent quite a bit of time in the Changi prison camp in Singapore as a POW. This was sort-of a turning point in his life (as it would be for anybody), and started a life long affinity in him for the Far East.
When he returned home, he worked as a scriptwriter with such credits as The Fly, The Great Escape, and To Sir, With Love. A screenwriter-strike in the early 1960s provided an opportunity for a new job, and he thus started writing novels. His first: King Rat, a story about the Changi and Utram Road prisons. It was a bestseller. He followed it up with the rest of The Asian Saga (over a period of like 30 years). He has also admitted that the recurring character Peter Marlowe is based on him.
James Clavell released his last book, Gai-Jin, just before he died on September 7th, 1994, of complications from cancer. A very tragic loss; he was always active with his writing and would have continued the Asian Saga. Out of all of my favourite authors, I would have liked to meet him the most.