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1. Fire in the Night : Wingate of
$3.99 list($24.95)
2. The Stone of Heaven : Unearthing
$5.18 list($24.95)
3. From the Land of Green Ghosts
$19.80 $17.92 list($30.00)
4. The Jungle War : Mavericks, Marauders
$16.50 $7.97 list($25.00)
5. The Burma Road : The Epic Story
6. Burmese Puppets (Images of Asia)
$21.95 $14.23
7. Impact Guides the Treasures and
$16.45 list($16.95)
8. Quartered Safe Out Here: A Recollection
9. Burma : The Untold Story
$10.17 $9.25 list($14.95)
10. Freedom from Fear and Other Writings
$61.44 list($45.00)
11. Myanmar Style: Art, Architecture
$10.17 $10.01 list($14.95)
12. A Prayer for Burma
$75.00 $72.38
13. In Search of Chin Identity: A
$24.95 $16.30
14. Phoenix: Burma: The Longest War
$19.95 $13.27
15. The Imperial War Museum Book of
$37.77 list($59.95)
16. Air War For Burma: The Concluding
17. Edwina Mountbatten: A Life of
$27.50 $27.44
18. Burmese Dance and Theatre (Images
$19.95 $15.95
19. Living Silence : Burma under Military
$10.20 $9.96 list($15.00)
20. Letters from Burma

1. Fire in the Night : Wingate of Burma, Ethiopia, and Zion
list price: $29.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0375500618
Catlog: Book (1999-12-28)
Publisher: Random House
Sales Rank: 218564
Average Customer Review: 4.88 out of 5 stars
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Few men have made as outstanding contributions to their country's cause as Orde Wingate, yet few have divided opinion so completely. "We don't want any more Wingates in the British Army," says an Army Council minute written after the end of the Second World War, and after his death. In contrast, no less than Winston Churchill himself said, before the House of Commons, "There was a man of genius, who might well have become a man of destiny."

John Bierman and Colin Smith's enlightening and rigorous biography of this brilliant man amply demonstrates how the conservative establishment of the British Army could come to adopt such an ungracious attitude to one of their most dynamic sons, who contributed so much to the war effort with dazzling performances in Abyssinia and Burma, and so much to future strategic thinking with his bold formulation of new methods. He ruffled feathers with his uncompromising style, unconventional thinking, and eccentric nature (perhaps most memorably expressed in his unaffected penchant for receiving visitors in the nude). Together with an acute intelligence and great breadth of learning, Wingate was a man possessed of awe-inspiring will and single-minded application, and he was often seen flying into a rage when things were not done as he thought they should be. Many, regardless of rank, felt the lash of his tongue. His almost fanatical commitment to the cause of Zionism, a highly sensitive and ambivalent political hot potato for the British at the time, seems also to have rankled many who simply could not understand a man so unlike the typical public-school-educated officer. Although not Jewish himself, to this day he is widely honored in Israel. Zvi Brenner, his Jewish bodyguard in Palestine before the war when he was commanding the Special Night Squads, elegantly encapsulated the man when, in describing Wingate's uncanny ability to negotiate all terrain in darkness, he said, "Wingate didn't follow any paths but walked in straight lines." A truly exceptional man; there is, unfortunately, little chance of the British Army's having any more Wingates. --Alisdair Bowles, ... Read more

Reviews (8)

Having been brought up on stories from my early years about the brave and often forgotten exploits of the Chindits I was very enthused to tuck into this book. Orde Wingate has been the hero of many, not so much because he was a military successful warrior, but because he was wildly unconventional at a time when staid ethics and methods of war were leading to defeats of the western allies on all fronts.

A fierce Old Testament fear and learning of the bible bread in what would now be called a fundementalist christian family, he blended this with [...] eccentricities like, indifference to appearing nude before his collegues and newspapermen, a complete indifference to British Monarchy and the hierarchical class-bound society and way of thinking. An appreciator of new ideas and probably quite to the left of many of his superiors, he had no hestation in punishing and physically striking his recruits (no matter their colour), and could kill the enemy mercilessly, or order large groups knowingly to their death without a blink.

Wingate pioneered unconventional warfare with his notion that large unit groups can function in the rear of the enemy for long periods of time if they were self-sufficient and well trained. He eschewed the entire idea of "special forces" as they are often called nowadays. In the end I do not think that he squared the circle large unit action and special forces --- he wanted both and got really neither. His tactics worked rather well against the Italians (but that was no surprise he realised), but they were problematic against the Japanese. The first operation, "Long Cloth" was an unmitigated disaster, with enough adventures from its many participants to fill an entire library (they still make some of the most heart thumping reads available). The entire operation broke down and became in some cases, every man for himself. Wingate himself giving the order.

His second operation was more problematic. No doubt these operations had significant effect on the enemy and no doubt were very helpful in the taking of Myikyena and Mogang, but I really think that 14th Army would have rolled up the Japanese flank nicely anyway, as they did and win the Battle of Burma with overwhelming firepower and troops as well unmitigated air superiority.

In the end the Japanese in Burma were beaten by traditional large unit engagements.

That is not a defeat of the ideas of Orde Wingate, nor do they negate the incredible bravery of the men who served with him. What it does DO however is to put to rest the idea that Orde Wingate was a purveyor of "Truth" -- his ideas were worthy, but they were not the be-all end-all of jungle combat. His developments were prodigeous and his personal bravery never in doubt. But I think that, like Moses, he got involved too much in fanatical devotion to one idea and was willing to sacrifice a lot for an idea. In the case of Moses, his people --- in the case of Wingate, it was often his own troops.

This books admirably chronicles the multifacted nature of Wingate. It is factual and comes across as neutral as possible, often citing critical sources and those men (also of incredible courage) that did not fall under his spell.

The narrative is tight and WELL EDITED. Unlike your regular 1000 page biography Smith and Beirman are able to deal with the subject adequately in 400 pages with nothing substantive missing. Also there is just enough detail of almost all of his life. The final 150 pages deals with the Burma campaign the authors are very skillful in their use of detail. They include all of the crucial elements necessary of his many campaigns.

I found the book to be a very admirable read. I think that it only deepened the questions I have about Wingate --- was he a daring experimenter or a madman? --- I think that one can add, bitterly-troubled person to the heap of other appelations surrounding this man.

I still ask myself, if this man were my commander would I succumb and become a convert? Would I stand aloof and protest that something is terribly wrong? I do not know, and cannot judge because I was not born at the time these events transpired. I was not a part of this great crusade, the glory they gained or the horrors they endured.

5-0 out of 5 stars Extraordinary story of a unique person
This is actually three wonderful stories in one. Beginning with a short introduction of the 'early years' the book quickly opens with Wingate in 1936 Palestine/Zion where is quickly discovers the passion that he will keep for the rest of his life, namely Zionism. Wingate, witnessing the anti-Semitic nature of the British officer corps, gravitates towards the Zionists due to his penchant for sticking out and backing underdog causes. This book tells the riveting story of Wingate's training and arming of the famous 'night squads' which became the backbone of the Palmach who eventually led Israel to victory in the 1948 war.

The second story is the story of Wingate in Africa. Exiled to Africa because of his deep connections to the Zionists Wingate once again latches onto a new cause, the 1941 liberation of Ethiopia, which had been the last free African state before the Italians invaded it.

The third story is where Wingate once again shined, namely in Burma leading the Chindits who operated behind enemy lines fighting the Japanese. Once again Wingate's penchant for native causes and brilliant ability to adapt unorthodox fighting techniques helped prepare the way for British victory. Churchill called Wingate a genius and when you read this book you will wholeheartedly agree, this is truly the story of the man who was the 'fire in the night' when the world was becoming dark with fascism.

Seth J. Frantzman

5-0 out of 5 stars One good read begets two
Some time ago, I read QUARTERED SAFE OUT HERE, the wartime memoirs of George MacDonald Fraser concerning the time he spent in the Other Ranks of the British imperial army that recaptured Burma from the Japanese in World War II. In his book, Fraser mentions the high regard the troops had for the army commander, William Slim. I subsequently read DEFEAT INTO VICTORY by Field-Marshal Viscount Slim, a personal account by the man who commanded the Fourteenth Indian Army during its bitter retreat from, and its glorious return march through, Burma. In his volume, Slim mentions the unorthodox British general Orde Wingate's contributions to the Japanese defeat in Southeast Asia. Thus, FIRE IN THE NIGHT, Wingate's biography.

Co-authored by John Bierman and Colin Smith, FIRE IN THE NIGHT is the immensely readable life story of an incredibly complex man. In a nutshell, after several brief chapters on Wingate's early life, the narrative sequentially covers his postings in Palestine, Ethiopia and, finally, India/Burma, during which time (1936-1944) he rose in rank from Lieutenant to Major General. In the British Mandate of Palestine, Orde became an ardent Zionist while fighting Arab "gangs" with Special Night Squads, the armed detachments of British regulars and Jews which he himself brought into being. In Ethiopia, his was a key role in the British victorious military effort to drive the Italians from the country and return Haile Selassie to the thrown. In India, Wingate's ultimate triumph before an untimely death was to conceive, form, train and deploy the Third Indian Division, the "Chindits", as a Special Force to insert behind Japanese lines in Northern Burma to destroy the enemy's means of communication and supply.

To my mind, the strength of this book is that it gives the reader an excellent overview of Wingate the man and soldier without getting bogged down in an overabundance of detail. Certainly, the subject of Wingate's character, obsessions and eccentricities could fill volumes. He was admired and loved by the men he literally led into battle. (He drove them hard, but he drove himself even harder.) Conversely, he was loathed by many of his officer peers and superiors for his arrogance, outspokenness, rudeness and personal slovenliness. (He was on record as calling some of his more Blimpish superiors "military apes".) But, he also had his admirers in high places, most notably Winston Churchill and Lord Louis Mountbatten, the Supreme Commander of all allied forces in Southeast Asia.

Perhaps the most endearing of Wingate's traits were his eccentricities. For example, he carried a wind-up alarm clock on his person because he considered watches unreliable. And then there was his attitude to personal nudity best illustrated by an incident during the wide press acclaim following his first Chindit campaign. An Australian correspondent invited to the general's hotel room in Delhi wrote:

"I found him sitting naked on his bed, eyes buried deep in a book. He hardly glanced up as I entered and rather gruffly asked what I wanted. ... He wasn't interested in me or my requirements, but seemed most excited about the book he was reading ... a critical commentary of Emily Bronte and her work."

Can you imagine those media hogs of the Second World War - Patton, Montgomery and MacArthur - doing that?

5-0 out of 5 stars Balanced and entertaining...
This is a lucid, penetrating, balanced and entertaining analysis of one of the 2nd World War's underestimated and controversial personality---a latter day T.E. Lawrence without the romantic riddle and enigma. The authors skillfully grabs the reader's attention from the start, eliminating extraneous details.(e.g., initial statement: "Orde Charles Wingate entered the world as he left it, amid a flurry of urgent telegrams.")

The book makes one wonder what the outcome would have been if he was given far more timely attention for his, at that time, unconventional theories of long range penetration and supply. On the other hand, it makes one wonder if he would have amounted much in today's athmosphere of the 'politically correct society' with his "amazing success in his getting himself disliked by people who are only too ready to be on his side", with his abrasive way of getting things done. It may well be a classic example of the adage that 'genius is never appreciated in one's time.' But many exalted figures in history considered him a military genius--the authors made it plain and clear there were many detractors too, from the ordinary soldier to Field Marshall Slim's unjust inferences in his post war memoirs.

My only complaint: the maps in the book--one gets the impression they were done in a hurry; the places mentioned which are crucial to the events described cannot be found, and I found myself having to use different atlases.

In retelling this story, the authors proved once more the truth in the saying that two heads working together are better than one.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great!
Bierman and Smith have done a fine job of portraying Wingate. And, what a great read!

Wingate has finally been given his due in this book. His true worth as an Army officer is finally exposed: As great as Lawrence but lacking the literary gifts.

A must-read for the professional Army or Marine Corps officer! ... Read more

2. The Stone of Heaven : Unearthing the Secret History of Imperial Green Jade
by Cathy Scott-Clark, Adrian Levy
list price: $24.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0316525960
Catlog: Book (2002-01-07)
Publisher: Little, Brown
Sales Rank: 395017
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Taking us from the imperial courts of ancient China to a squalid mine in Burma today, THE STONE OF HEAVEN-now in paperback-reveals for the first time the bizarre true story of Imperial Green Jade, one of the rarest stones in the world, more precious than diamonds, coveted for its life-extending powers and its aphrodisiac properties as well as for its astonishing beauty-a stone that has shaped the destiny of nations and changed the lives of all who have worn it. ... Read more

Reviews (1)

5-0 out of 5 stars An excellent and thorough read
Levy and Scott-Clark are excellent story tellers, and do they ever have a story to tell. Tracing the history of imperial green jade, or jadeite, they begin in the late 18th century with Chinese emperor Qianlong and 400 rivetting pages later end in present day Myanmar. Along the way the reader is exposed to the unrestrained profligacy of the Chinese emperors and the equally unrestrained ignorance and arrogance of the British colonialists. There is scheming and plots within plots as players in the Chinese dynasties kill their own progeny to ensure a malleable emperor will succeed. The plundering by the British of the old Imperial summer palace is shocking, and the primitive warfare of the Kachin in Burma is horrifying. Levy and Scott-Clark's descriptions put the reader right into the midst of the action: the writing is so effective that you can feel the clinging humidity of the Burmese jungle as 19th century British explorers plod along in search for the mines from whence the jadeite is extracted.

Also of tremendous interest were the passages about the Dowager Empress Cixi. If all you know about the last emperor Pu Yi is from the wonderful movie "The Last Emperor," this book will help round out some of the events and issues driving the Pu Yi story along that were alluded to in the movie. Besides, the movie's only allusion to Cixi is in the very beginning when the toddler Pu Yi is brought to the Forbidden City. Levy and Scott-Clark reveal to the reader from where Cixi came and how her desire for the jadeite was often at the core of her political machinations.

And then there are the final chapters that reveal a scenario so horrifying, so shocking that even the surrealistic visions of Francis Ford Coppola in "Apocolypse Now" cannot compare.

This is definitely the best book I've read so far this year, and probably the best book I've read in the past five years. After reading this book you will not be able to look at another piece of jadeite, no matter how beautiful, and not whince because now you know the stone's infamous history. ... Read more

3. From the Land of Green Ghosts : A Burmese Odyssey
by Pascal Khoo Thwe
list price: $24.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0060505222
Catlog: Book (2002-11-01)
Publisher: HarperCollins
Sales Rank: 153783
Average Customer Review: 4.83 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Winner of the 2002 Kiriyama Prize in Nonfiction

In 1988 Dr John Casey, a Cambridge don visiting Burma, was told of a waiter in Mandalay with a passion for the works of James Joyce. Intrigued by this unlikely story, he visited the restaurant, where he met Pascal Khoo Thwe. The encounter was to change both their lives.

Pascal grew up as a member of the tiny, remote Kayan Padaung tribe, famous for their 'giraffenecked' women. The Padaung practiced a combination of ancient animist and Buddhist customs mixed with the Catholicism introduced by Italian missionaries. Theirs was a dream culture, a world in which ancestors were worshipped and ghosts were a constant presence. Pascal was the first member of his community ever to study English at university. But in Burma, English books were rare, and independent thought was discouraged. Photocopies of the few approved texts would be passed from student to student, while tuition consisted of lecturers reciting essays that the students learned by rote.

Within a few months of his chance meeting with Dr Casey, Pascal's world lay in ruins. Successive economic crises brought about by Burma's military dictatorship meant he had to give up his studies. The regime's repression grew more brutal, and Pascal's student-lover, who had become involved in the movement for democracy, was arrested, raped and finally murdered by the armed forces. Pascal fled to the jungle, becoming a guerrilla fighter in the life-or-death struggle against the government and seeing many of his friends and comrades die in battle. At a moment of desperation, he remembered the Englishman he had met in Mandalay and wrote him a letter, with little expectation of ever receiving a reply.

Miraculously, the letter reached its destination on the other side of the world. Not only that, it would lead to Pascal's being rescued from the jungle and enrolling to study English at Cambridge University, the first Burmese tribesman ever to do so.

From the Land of Green Ghosts is the autobiographical tale of a remarkable triumph of hope over despair, and of an encounter between two very different worlds. Hauntingly and poetically written, it unforgettably evokes the realities of life in modern-day Burma and one young man's long journey to freedom despite almost unimaginable odds.

... Read more

Reviews (12)

4-0 out of 5 stars Highly Recommended
Culture, family, tradition, humorous or more severe anecdotes followed by a harrowing clash with a corrupt and brutal military government characterize From the Land of the Green Ghosts. Meanwhile, the story is told so gracefully that one feels eased into a desperate life and death struggle rather than abruptly confronted by it (as one might be with a Western writer.) The advantage is that when the author, the gifted Pascal Khoo Thwe, punctuates his narrative with a precise, violent detail, it stands out (as it should) in the reader's mind. At the same time, such frightening scenes are so immediate that they feel neither moral nor immoral, just simply horrifying, indicative of the repressive violence inflicted upon the people of Burma by the military junta controlling the country.

The author is unpretentious, highly perceptive, and graced with a gift for language and writing few possess (all the more remarkable because English was not his first, second or even third language.) Mr. Thwe is also candid about his fears that none of these qualities exist in him. He is mistaken. Moreover, what might seem an apparent pipe dream or convenient rationale for escaping jungle warfare -- that of "helping" his people through receiving an education at one of the world's most elite colleges -- is undone by the book itself. Certainly, it is easier to write beautiful prose while sitting in England than to dodge bullets and mortars (or succumbing to malaria) in the hot jungles along the Thai-Burmese border; but it would be impossible to conclude that any rebel fighter could have better informed the world about Burma's plight than has been done here by Pascal Khoo Thwe.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Beautiful Book
This is a wonderful book and a very interesting read. It offers a both a detailed description of life growing up in a hill tribe in Burma and a broader look at the tragic consequences of years of totalitarian rule by the corrupt and failed government of Burma (now "officially" Myanmar). The author's journey to the border and subsequent escape from the country almost reads like a fiction novel. However, this true story is written with the respect and insight of a man well aware of the gravity of his country's plight. His book does the reader, and the people of his troubled country, a great service.

5-0 out of 5 stars Great Memoir
Extraordinary memoir by a gifted writer with an extremely unusual story to tell.

5-0 out of 5 stars A truly inspiring read
I don't post reviews, but this book was such a great one that I had to add my opinion.

The author's very personal insights into the Burma's struggles are profound. His early memories growing up in a tribal Padaung culture present a fascinating look at how the Catholicisim taught by missionaries coexisted with tribal myths (a favorite quote, from his grandmother: "The gods are like government officials. If you want things done quickly, you have to bribe the small ones.")

As his education progressed, so too did the unbelievable repression of the various Burmese regimes of the day (1960s to 80s). His experience as a student freedom fighter are gripping, as is his remarkable account of how a chance meeting with a Cambridge professor led to his eventual escape to England.

For me, this book did 3 things. First, it helped me glimpse the contemporary history of Burma (aka Myanmar), a nation that's always intrigued me, but a place of which I had very little knowledge. Second, it opened my eyes to some of the feelings and courage behind rebels and freedom fighters in oppressively-ruled nations, which allows me to read contemporary accounts of world events in a much richer context. Finally, it made me re-examine my own role in the world. While Pascal was fighting for his life as he made an unimaginable transition (to me anyway) from tribal to contemporary cultures, I was hawking software at trade shows or enjoying the tourist face of neighboring Thailand -- all with no idea of what was really happening in Burma. It was stunning that I could have been so ignorant to what was happening there at a time when I considered myself to be pretty aware of what was going on in the world.

A fascinating and extremely well-written book.

4-0 out of 5 stars A Voice from the Burma Nobody Knows
Burma (aka Myanmar) is a country of many, many different ethnic and tribal groups. While the majority (69%) are Burman, there are many others including Karen, Kachin, Shan, Mon, and the author's own Padaung tribe. (The Padaung are most famous in the West for their "giraffe women" who wear golden rings about their necks that elongate their profile to freakish dimensions.)

Pascal Khoo Thwee's book is a narrative of his life as an ambitious young Padaung man trying to negotiate his way through the brutal, murderous, politically-dysfunctional culture that is modern-day Burma. It is an incredible story, cinematic in its dimensions and bizarre, fortuitous coincidences. Thwe gives voice to the Burma that nobody knows, i.e., life as experienced by one of its minority tribal groups.

Thwe's descriptions of his life among the Padaung are extraordinarly rich, with all the subtle nuances that only an insider could provide. His account of his flight from a hideous regime and life among the anti-government insurgents in the jungle is equally riveting. Eventually, he escapes to the rarified academic milieu of Cambridge University. It is a great story (and would make a fine movie.)

Unfortunately, it is in the account of his political awakening/transformation (the bridge between the two stories above) that the book falls flat. This was the most momentous and revolutionary period in the history of modern day Burma. It was when Aung San Suu Kyi came to world prominence and Burma looked like it had a hope of abandoning its decades long isolation and rejoing the modern (democratic?) world. One would expect that Thwe's narrative would sing at this point. Yet, it seems curiously detached -- almost mailed-in. It seems, in fact, to be reconstructed in significant measure from secondary sources. Only the death of his lover/girlfriend at the hand of the government has any resonance in accounting for his ultimate apostasy from General Ne Win's abominable political ideology.

I acknowledge that this may be unfair to Thwe in that I am thinking like a Westerner. He is candid in talking about his difficulties in coming to terms with concepts such as "human rights", "democracy", and "freedom of thought." Still, I feel that his account of the pressures that pushed him toward exile is woefully underdeveloped.

On the whole, this is a fine book. I learned much about minority cultures in Burma that I probably would not learn anywhere else. But. . .if you want to understand the revolutionary events that led to the great Burmese uprising of 1988 I would suggest that you look elsewhere. ... Read more

4. The Jungle War : Mavericks, Marauders and Madmen in the China-Burma-India Theater of World War II
by GeraldAstor
list price: $30.00
our price: $19.80
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0471273937
Catlog: Book (2004-07-09)
Publisher: Wiley
Sales Rank: 95409
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Book Description

Praise FOR Gerald Astor

"No one does oral history better than Gerald Astor. . . . Great reading."
–Stephen Ambroseon The Mighty Eighth

"Gerald Astor has proven himself a master.Here, World War II is brought to life through the hammer blows of their airborne triumphs and fears."
–J. Robert Moskin, author of Mr. Truman’s War, on The Mighty Eighth

"Astor captures the fire and passion of those tens of thousands of U.S. airmen who flew through the inferno that was the bomber war over Europe."
–Stephen Coonts on The Mighty Eighth

"Oral history at its finest."
–The Washington Post on Operation Iceberg

"Quick and well-paced, this will please even the most jaded of readers."
–Army magazine on Battling Buzzards

"A stout volume by a distinguished historian of the modern military makes a major contribution on its subject."
–Booklist on The Right to Fight (starred Editor’s Choice)

"Today, as we lose the veterans of World War II at an alarming rate, we must not lose sight of their sacrifices or of the leaders who took them into battle.Astor, an acclaimed military historian, provides an in-depth look at one of the war’s most successful division combat commanders, Maj. Gen. Terry Allen. . . . This well-written portrait makes for enjoyable reading."
–Library Journal on Terrible Terry Allen ... Read more

5. The Burma Road : The Epic Story of the China-Burma-India Theater in World War II
by Donovan Webster
list price: $25.00
our price: $16.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0374117403
Catlog: Book (2003-10-13)
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Sales Rank: 33833
Average Customer Review: 4.08 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

The harrowing story of one of the greatest chapters of World War II---the building and defense of the Burma Road

The Burma Road tells the extraordinary story of the China-Burma-India theater of operations during World War II. As the Imperial Japanese Army swept across China and South Asia at the war's outset--closing all of China's seaports--more than 200,000 Chinese laborers embarked on a seemingly impossible task: to cut a seven-hundred-mile overland route--which would be called the Burma Road--from the southwest Chinese city of Kunming to Lashio, Burma. But with the fall of Burma in early 1942, the Burma Road was severed, and it became the task of the newly arrived American General Stilwell to re-open it, while, at the same time, keeping China supplied by air-lift from India and simultaneously driving the Japanese out of Burma as the first step of the Allied offensive toward Japan.
In gripping prose, Donovan Webster follows the breathtaking adventures of the American "Hump" pilots who flew hair-raising missions over the Himalayas to make food-drops in China; tells the true story of the mission that inspired the famous film The Bridge on the River Kwai; and recounts the grueling jungle operations of Merrill's Marauders and the British Chindit Brigades. Interspersed with vivid portraits of the American General "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell, the exceedingly eccentric British General Orde Wingate, and the mercurial Chinese Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek, The Burma Road vividly re-creates the sprawling, sometimes hilarious, often harrowing, and still largely unknown stories of one of the greatest chapters of World War II.
... Read more

Reviews (13)

5-0 out of 5 stars I've got my machete and my gun...
When most people think of World War II, they think of the fight against Nazism in Europe. Even if they do consider the fight against Japan, most think of the US Marines jumping from one bloody island to another on their long march north. Largely forgotten by many, there was a war in Asia as well. Japan invaded China in 1937, starting 8 years of combat ranging from mountains of China to the jungles of Burma and other southeast Asian countries. It wasn't a pretty campaign, but it was very important.

Donovan Webster has written a definitive account of this war from an American and British perspective. The Burma Road covers the war from the American entrance into the war until its Japan's final collapse. A large part of the book is focused on General Joseph Stillwell, or "Vinegar Joe" as his men called him, but Webster does cover almost every aspect of it. While the war in China is neglected for a long period of time, The Burma Road effectively shows us the blood, sweat and disease that dominated this campaign. It's a fascinating book.

There is a bit of a framing story around the book, with Webster trying to walk the full length of the Burma Road, a road from Burma to China that was supposed to supply the Chinese and keep them in the war. A large portion of northeast India is still restricted, especially from journalists, and Webster is unsuccessful in the beginning of his journey. He then segues into the beginning of Stillwell's story, giving a brief summary of his career up until he gets assigned to the Southeast Asian sector of the war. Notoriously under-supplied and undermanned, Stillwell is forced to make do with what he can to keep the Japanese out of India at all costs. While Japan successfully invades Thailand and Burma and Stillwell is forced to slog through the jungles to escape, he manages to keep them from their ultimate goal. He is less successful with the Chinese, however, forever clashing with China's leader, Chiang Kai-shek. After three years of fighting both the Japanese and his own allies, Stillwell is finally relieved of command, despite his many successes.

While a large portion of the book is told through Stillwell's point of view, other areas are not neglected. We hear a lot about the British army, especially the Chindit special forces (one whole chapter on their beginning plus numerous chapters when they are fighting alongside Stillwell's men) as well as the beginning of the world-famous "Flying Tigers," a group of American pilots who had resigned their commissions so they could fight for China before the United States entered the war. Their leader, Claire Chennault, later became a real thorn in Stillwell's side, siding with Kai-Shek in all of the battles between the two leaders.

The book follows a semi-chronological format, taking us from the beginning of Stillwell's involvement in the Asian theater of operations to the end of the war, but it does jump around a bit when it moves on to another subject. It gets to a certain point in Stillwell's career and then backtracks to tell the beginning of Chindit operations, for example. It also pauses to give brief biographies of major characters, such as the British General Orde Wingate. This back and forth style does make it confusing at times, and there was one time reference that I swore didn't add up until I realized that Webster was talking about something else. However, it does make the book feel even more comprehensive, as it seems to cover every conceivable angle of the war.

The one aspect of this where The Burma Road fails, however, regards China. The constant lend-lease supply of goods to the Chinese is covered, the Chinese contribution to Stillwell's campaign is documented beautifully, and Chennault's Flying Tigers are represented. On the other hand, other than a brief chapter near the end of the book and a few mentions in between, none of the fighting in China is actually discussed. Webster spends a brief time discussing the decision to finally bring the Chinese Communists into the war, and makes a few small references to their savagery in fighting the Japanese. Given the depth of the rest of the book, however, it feels very small.

That being said, though, The Burma Road is a very valuable resource for anybody wanting a general history of the Asian campaign in World War II. It corrects some myths that have been fostered about the war. One chapter takes special aim at the book and movie The Bridge Over the River Kwai. It calls the book fictional with the movie being even worse. Webster gives the real details behind the building of that bridge, and the railway in general. He tells us how the Japanese mistreated not only the prisoners, but also their own men.

That's where The Burma Road excels: the details. Webster doesn't pull any punches, telling us of the disease, leeches, poisoned water, the condition of the corpses, and other hardships that the valiant men who fought in this theater went through. He even interviewed some of the Japanese soldiers who managed to survive the conflict, showcasing the ordeals they had to go through. They were chronically under-supplied and often subsisted on nothing but small quantities of rice and bad water. Webster gives us so much detail that you may not want to read this book over lunch.

I haven't read a better book on this subject, and I'm very glad I picked this up. I couldn't put it down. If you're a military history fan, I don't think you'll be able to either. It's a book that the men who fought and died in the jungles deserve to have written about them. It especially does old Vinegar Joe justice.

David Roy

4-0 out of 5 stars Fast Informative Read
The Burma Road is an extremely well written and interesting little look at the China,Burma, India theatre during World War II.

While the book is not as in depth as say the recent "An Army at Dawn", Webster tells a lot of story in under 350 pages.

Clearly the most interesting character is Vinger Joe Stilwell. Webster in my opinion does a better job telling his story than Tuchman did in her book, plus Webster has access to more and better balanced sources. Again, Stilwell and the American Experience is a classic, but The Burma Road is more up to date.

The book also shows how difficult Chiang Kai Shek was, and if anyone can not believe how someone like Mao could take over China, just read more about Chiang Kai Shek, he lost China just as much as Mao won it.

Anyone who likes WWII or just good easy to read history will enjoy this book.

3-0 out of 5 stars servicable history which is fair to Wingate
The book is a reasonable work, but it really brings little new
to a subject that has had a great deal written about it already.

Some will dislike the treatment of Wingate in the book, but
it is very fair and, in fact, dead on. Wingate is a complicated
person and in history, as in life, he tends to either attract
followers who are blind to his faults or those who go too far
in attacking him. He was a brave man and a natural leader,
but he was also a religious fanatic with very exccentric
personal habits who tended sometimes not to think what he was
doing through. This is a man who insulted everyone around
him, ran his command unclothed and attempted to commit
suicide by cutting his own throat shortly before being offered
a new chance in India. And as a military commander, he allowed
and encouraged flogging of his men contrary to army rules
during the first chindit expedition (see Trevor Royle).

The Wingate missions into Burma, in both cases, were special
operations not done in the context of a achiving a military
objective worth their cost in terms of lives or resources.
And while brave men can do great things in such a situation,
war is not a boys adventure. Real people pay the price for
reckless and ill-considered operations.

Wingate has also attracted a following among the far-right in
certain parts of the world. Particularly among political leaders
who favor military adventures and who long for fanatics to take
the place of cautious military officers who actually care about
the lives of soldiers.

In conclusion, the book is a workable if not terribly original
rehash of well-known events in the Burma campaign. For those
not familiar with the history of the period, its a reasonable
intruction to the subject.

3-0 out of 5 stars Serviceable Burma Theater History, but Lacking the Road
"The Burma Road" as the title implies, might be a book focused on the Burma Road. Both the road's tumultuous construction, and its present condition are all ground ripe for a modern telling. Unfortunately this describes the first and last chapters, but little in between. The book instead quickly abandons its initial perspective and retells the Burma war from General Stilwell's point of view. This retelling is serviceable for those who have read little else on the war in Burma. For those who would like more substance; I recommend Louis Allen's "Burma: The Longest War 1941-1945." For those interested in General Stilwell; Barbara Tuchman's "Stilwell and the American Experience in China 1911-45" is a far better choice. "The Marauders" by Charlton Ogburn, is a classic description of what it was like to be on the ground with the American Army behind enemy lines. Terrence O'Brien's "Out of the Blue: A Pilot with the Chindits" is the equivalent British experience. In the mean time, I anxiously await Mr. Webster's further tales of his trip along the road, its residents replete with wartime remembrances, and lots of luxurious photographs of the past and present Burma Road.

5-0 out of 5 stars History That Reads Like a Novel
The immediately preceding review essentially criticizes this highly readable and engaging first book by a talented new writer for not covering enough historical territory. That's akin to criticizing The Hobbit for not being The Lord of the Rings. "The Burma Road" does not purport to be a comprehensive history of the entire Burma theatre of the Second World War (which could not be accomplished in a single book without being a dry broad-brush overview). It does cover in fascinating detail the amazing experiences of Vinegar Joe Stilwell (the book's greatest hero, and deservedly so), the hilariously eccentric but also brilliant Orde Wingate (did you know that he had previously, without the permission of his superiors, trained the precusor of the Haganah and Palmachi--including the young Moshe Dayan--to protect Jewish settlers in late 1930s Palestine?), "The Peanut" Chiang Kai-Shek, the courageous pilots who flew "The Hump," Merrill's Marauders, and Gen. Chennault and the Flying Tigers. Buy it, start reading it, and you won't be able to put it down. ... Read more

6. Burmese Puppets (Images of Asia)
by Noel F. Singer
list price: $19.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0195885899
Catlog: Book (1992-09-01)
Publisher: Oxford Univ Pr
Sales Rank: 1250777
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7. Impact Guides the Treasures and Pleasures of Thailand and Myanmar: Best of the Best in Travel and Shopping (Impact Guides)
by Ron, Ph.D. Krannich, Caryl, Ph.D. Krannich
list price: $21.95
our price: $21.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1570232032
Catlog: Book (2004-08)
Publisher: Impact Publications
Sales Rank: 370966
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8. Quartered Safe Out Here: A Recollection of the War in Burma
by George MacDonald Fraser
list price: $16.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0002726874
Catlog: Book (1994-07-01)
Publisher: Acacia Press, Inc.
Sales Rank: 111255
Average Customer Review: 4.95 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

"One of the great personal memoirs of the Second World War" (John Keegan) by the creator of the Flashman books. ... Read more

Reviews (20)

5-0 out of 5 stars Is THIS What We Were Fighting For?
A superb narrative of the "forgotten" war in Burma in WWII that allows Fraser to comment on not only the war itself and those close to him in combat but a biting commentary on revisionist historians and their efforts to look backwards at events from today's politically correct perspective.The tale itself is a loosely jointed account of short, vicious actions in the chaos that surrounded the last days of the Japanese Empire in Southeast Asia and the Commonwealth's role in ending it. Images of both the tedium and confusion of men subject to the vague "plans" of headquarters as well as vivid discriptions of close combat against a tenacious enemy make this both an historically interesting "read" as well as a informative glimpse of Fraser's generation who went off to the four corners of the globe to "make the world safe for democracy". Did they truly risk their lives for the society we live in today

5-0 out of 5 stars Should have six stars at least
George Macdonald Fraser has written an utterly gripping and unforgettable memoir of the war in Burma, where he served with a company of men mainly from Cumberland. His comrades are vividly described so that you feel you have known them yourself, and it is a terrible shock when nearly halfway through the book one of them is killed during a bloody nighttime battle. There are richly comic passages too, like the time the section is given the job of gathering up provisions from an air drop, and return laden with stolen booty, or the time they are terrorised by a giant centipede, or the time Fraser falls down a well. Every time I read this book I find myself wishing that I had been one of those young men fighting my way through the jungle, which is completely crazy, as the closest I've ever come to combat is seperating two squabbling toddlers. By the end of the book, when Fraser leaves to become an officer, I feel as sad as if I was saying goodbye to my own friends, and I can never hear the tune "bye-bye blackbird" without substituting the Burma version "you've been out with Sun-Yat-Sen, you won't go out with him again, Shanghai bye-bye!" The most astonishing thing is that he was only nineteen when he was performing incredible acts of courage in the jungle, eventually even having to lead the section himself. An extraordinary story, told bu a superb writer. Read it and laugh. Read it and weep. Read it and wish you were there too. Oh, just read it!

While Britain was ingloriously kicked out of SE Asia in 1941, their soldiers seemed to exemplify the worst effects of years of defeat and despair. The debacle of Burma and Singapore and the debilitating effects of defeat infected both the British, Indian and Commonwealth armies. After the defeats and the long road back is where George Mac Fraser comes in.

The British and Indian Armies has been integrated trained and tested in the rugged battles of Imphal and Kohima. The Black Cat Division full of men from mostly Cumbria, are ready to be tested in the long road back to Rangoon. Fraser recounts his role in the big push to capture most of Burma and then the mop-up operations with British Special Forces in the closing weeks of the war.

Fraser's autobiographical writing is characteristically wry and at times cynically humourous. At other times he evinces what one may call the "ugly" side of the racist feeling of the enemy that filled the heads of both sides in this conflict. Like a lot of authors of the same era, Japanese are "Japs" and they are a lesser form of humanity. Lesser because they kill, rape and murder and kill British POWs to a degree that the British soldier (and any normal human being) finds shocking. What happens is, in turn, a dehumanisation of the British/ Indian soldier and any notion of him being a gentlemanly warrior. Quarter is neither asked nor given. Killing Japs and more Japs becomes the end in itself. When the initial offence breaks the backs of the main line of Japanese defence, the Gurkhas hunt Japanese with their long Kukris, Indian troops kill Japanese wounded, and the British go for vengence.

At the end of the book Fraser is aware of the mentality engendered on him and his men. He makes no apologies for it. In one of his more famous quotes he asks if the British soldier fully cognizent of what the A Bomb would do the Japanese women and children would withhold bombing if giving the choice. He answers that if it could in some way end the suffering on the Burma Front by shortening the hell they faced, then the British Soldier would join in a single chorus that "yes use the damned thing...."

It is chilling in the sense what this war in the jungle did to them. Fighting far from home in a jungle with sparse rations, rotting clothes, little rest, constant wet of the monsoons or constant dryness of the central plains --- the wasting of the body and the mind is much in evidence in this book.

Fraser also loved his mates and the times he spent with them. Those days around fires on the Central Plains the intial rush to capture Rangoon before the Monsoon rains is very poetically detailed by this warrior Scot. Seven years after reading this book I can still remember his description of when the chase ends and the first drops of the monsoon rains come as the weary troops rest on the road to Rangoon.

The British Warrior poet is a much more developed genre than its American counterpart. In this war there are many good British haunting memoirs about the Burma Front and the "Fogotten War."
But this is still one of the best and stays with you a very long time.

5-0 out of 5 stars A Foxhole View of War -- One of the Best!
There are a few personal accounts of war and its impact on a man that stand out in the sea of such literature -- works such as "Goodbye to All That," "Homage to Catalonia," and "The Men I Killed." "Quartered Safe Out Here" has now joined that short list. MacDonald Fraser is the acclaimed author of the Flashman series of historical fiction, but here he reveals his own experience as an infantryman in merciless combat against the Japanese in Burma. Here is an all-too-vivid recollection of the fear, pain, discomfort and -- yes -- the pleasure of comradeship among the common soldiers who win or lose ALL wars. MacDonald Fraser reminds us that wars are not just "politics by other means," wars are about young men -- their lives, their deaths, and their friendships. As one reviewer said, MacDonald Fraser "has raised a memorial" with this book. Read it!

5-0 out of 5 stars OUTSTANDING

9. Burma : The Untold Story
list price: $14.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0891412662
Catlog: Book (1986-06-01)
Publisher: Presidio Press
Sales Rank: 1921946
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Book Description

"Deftly-written, candid, and often-amusing [story] of action, [throwing] much new light on...the Allies' toughest theater."--Springfield Newspapers ... Read more

10. Freedom from Fear and Other Writings
by Aung San Suu Kyi, Michael Aris
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140253173
Catlog: Book (1995-11-01)
Publisher: Penguin USA (P)
Sales Rank: 122785
Average Customer Review: 4.29 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (7)

5-0 out of 5 stars Aung San Suu Kyi
The best writing I've ever read ... about striving democracy in peace... I love That Woman!!!!

4-0 out of 5 stars The eloquent voice of an often forgotten but mighty land
I re-read this book shortly after Aung San Suu Kyi was placed, once again, under house arrest in 2003. The daughter of the man who is referred as the founding father of Burma(today called Myanmar) - Aung San - is herself a major political figure in her country. The chapter about her father - who was assassinated when the author was two years old - is an impressive, informative, and dispassionate account of Aung San's days as a student leader and his leadership of the independence movement that established modern Burma as a nation. My own father was a foreign correspondent in Burma in the late 1940s and had covered the assassination of Aung San and his colleagues. This left me since my childhood with a deep curiosity about this period of Burmese history - and Aung San's daughter's account does not leave curious readers like myself disappointed. Most of the book is devoted to the life and times of Suu Kyi herself. It includes several articles by other writers who help readers understand how a Burmese woman rises to national prominence in a country which has known but unbroken military dictatorship for decades. This book is also about Burmese culture, religion, and language, and should be on the bookshelf on anyone who has a serious interest in this curious, wretched country of tremendous unfulfilled potential.

If you have an interest in Burmese or Southeast Asian history, you might also consider reading Amitav Ghosh's The Glass Palace, a historical novel which I have also reviewed on this website.

5-0 out of 5 stars Indispensible
This book was for me an opener into the evolution of Burma's political scene, and it proved to be a good one.

Whilst it takes some time to get accustomed to the many abbreviations of Burma's political parties and factions, once it is gotten used to, Freedom from Fear becomes an essential book for those interested in the becoming of Aung San Suu Kyi - daughter of Burma's national hero, the late Aung San - and her process of fighting and eventually winning the support of the country she always called home depite her international influences.

Though Freedom from Fear would be a good book to start learning about Burma's modern political history, I would suggest first reading about pre-colonial Burma to get a better grasp and understanding of the country's stand and place in Southeast Asia.

5-0 out of 5 stars Freedom from Fear and Other Writings
This book really inspired me. And all the details information written in this book are 100% accurate and I was so suprised to read all those history things that I have learnt in my childhood in my country, Myanmar. I believe this is one of the books that every patriots of Burma should have.

1-0 out of 5 stars Freedom from fear
this book is very good for me to build my strength
and power for fight against military dictatorship
in my country. Thank you for Daw Aung San Suu Kyi.

KoKoOo ... Read more

11. Myanmar Style: Art, Architecture and Design of Burma
by Luca Invernizzi Tettoni, Elizabeth Moore, Daniel Kahrs, Alfred Birnbaum, Virginia McKeen Di Crocco, Joe Cummings, John Falconer, Kim Inglis
list price: $45.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 9625933972
Catlog: Book (1998-11-01)
Publisher: Tuttle Publishing
Sales Rank: 515927
Average Customer Review: 4.67 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Beautiful and Informative Sourcebook
I own at least a dozen books in which the second word of the Title is "Style", but this is certainly one of the best. Well organized, informative and full of beautiful photographs. Looking through this book you can learn about the Architecture and Design of Myanmar. The book is divided into sections dealing with Religious and Secular Architecture, Early and Modern Architecture and Arts and Crafts. At the end of the book there is a section of Textiles and Costumes, and another entitled the Pagoda Market which shows photographs and gives descriptions of vendors of various types of handicrafts. Thus a cross section of the different aspects of the Myanmar Style are given, without adaptations by Western Interior Decorators. Some "Style" Books are misleading because they show the adaptations, primarily in the West, of Stylistic Elements. While these books are ok, I prefer to see the Style as it actually is in Myanmar, not a Architectural Digest type of interpretation. This book is free from this. The text is concise and informative. Not overloooked should be the quality of the photographs and the paper and printing, which in this case are all excellent. Some other books of this genre are not up to high quality. No worries here however. I highly recommend this book. It will make you want to visit Myanmar, or at least think about redesigning in your home.

5-0 out of 5 stars brilliant sourcebook
Finally, a book on art and design in Myanmar/Burma that does justice to the living traditions as well as the colonial and pre-colonial empires. Superb photography, thoughtful text, and some quirky subjects, too, such as the chapter The Great Pagoda Alley. Enjoyable.

4-0 out of 5 stars Superb varied and colorful view of buildings and crafts
This book adds both novelty and inspiration to an otherwise dull coffee table or mind. More touristically, this is one of the special books that make you go to the place and find where the interesting buildings not in the travel guides are. The pictures are excellent, not cropping so much as to glamourise rubbish, and not putting things out of context: in short, well edited text and visuals. One note, it has nothing to do with the experience of being in a third world country, but it is for the visual pleasure only. ... Read more

12. A Prayer for Burma
by Kenneth Wong
list price: $14.95
our price: $10.17
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1891661280
Catlog: Book (2003-04-01)
Publisher: Santa Monica Press
Sales Rank: 80594
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Returning to his native Burma-a country fraught with political upheaval and laden with superstition-Burmese American Kenneth Wong faced the cultural specters of his own past and the spirit of a land trapped in time. Sealed off from the outside world, first by an oppressive military regime's isolationism and then by economic sanctions, Burma lives on like a lingering ghost of its colonial past. This beautiful and intriguing country is revealed through the eyes of an expatriate battling his conflicting national, cultural, ideological, ancestral, and ethnic identities. In the tradition of George Orwell, W. Somerset Maugham, and Paul Theroux, Wong portrays Burma as an exotic place that invites, frightens, teases, and haunts citizens and visitors alike with its unique mixture of ill-kept Edwardian structures, pockmarked English mansions, and glittering Buddhist temples. The courage, humor, and perseverance of the Burmese people and their endearing yet mysterious way of life are revealed in this moving account of a man rediscovering his culture. ... Read more

Reviews (4)

5-0 out of 5 stars Memory of Golden Land
Kenneath Wong's beautiful writing style and metaphor of being 'ghost' inspire me in many ways. His book shows vivid scence of unique culture of Burma in which its people are struggled to live under politically deprived condition. With much admiration to his writing, I also want to pray that this unique golden land and its people be escaped from the shadow of military uniforms and oppression.

5-0 out of 5 stars Offering an informative assessment of Burmese life
A Prayer For Burma is the personal reflections of Burmese expatriate Kenneth Wong upon returning to his homeland after living in the U.S. for more than a decade. Offering an informative assessment of Burmese life and culture from inside-out perspective, enhanced with bittersweet memories and reflections of this politically and socially troubled nation, A Prayer For Burma is very highly recommended reading.

5-0 out of 5 stars Well worth a read
This is a very engaging book, full of lots of quirky humor and insights into Burma as it is now. The author's role as an expat returning to Burma as a visitor give him a rare perspective, understanding local culture and language, yet feeling an outsider and being treated as one. It is more up to date than most literature on Burma, being based on visits during the last 2-3 years. Highly recommended.

5-0 out of 5 stars Priceless Prose
Even if you have no interest whatsoever in Burma, you still need to read this book. This is a book for people who love beautiful writing. It's about exploring personal identity; it's about culture, about being human, about revisitng and reflecting on one's past, on roots, on time and on what it means to exist on this complex planet of ours.

But if you do have an interest in Burma, then you'll get quite a bonus with this book. Mr. Wong takes you with him as he walks the street's of today's Rangoon gone modern and reflects on the Rangoon gone mad of the 80s and the movement for democracy.

Employing a rapier wit and self-deprecating humor throughout, Mr. Wong will have you laughing and yet realizing at the same time the poignant sadness of the kalaidescopic Burmese culture--sad, beautiful, joyful, and endearing all at the same time. A Prayer for Burma is a sensitive, extended essay on what it means to be multicultural, intelligent, and human.

Read it; you'll be glad you did. ... Read more

13. In Search of Chin Identity: A Study of Religion, Politics, and Ethnic Identity in Burma
by Lian H. Sakhong, Lian H Sakhong
list price: $75.00
our price: $75.00
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 8791114152
Catlog: Book (2002-09)
Publisher: Nordic Institute of Asian Studies
Sales Rank: 2927218
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Book Description

This in-depth study of Chin nationalism and Christianity charts the abrupt turn-of-the-20th century transformation of Chinram from independent country ruled by Chin chiefs, following traditional Chin religion, to British colony largely converted by Christian missionaries. As the Chin became increasingly involved in Burmese independence movements, they began to articulate their own Christian traditions of democracy and assert a burgeoning self-awareness of their own national identity. This text explores the role Christianity has played in providing the Chin people with a means for preserving their national identity in the midst of multiracial and multireligious environments. ... Read more

14. Phoenix: Burma: The Longest War 1941-1945
by Louis Allen
list price: $24.95
our price: $24.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1842122606
Catlog: Book (2000-08-01)
Publisher: Cassell
Sales Rank: 99471
Average Customer Review: 5 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Charting the whole Burma war, this book flows like a novel from the high command to the sharp end setting out a myriad of facts and considerations in a clear and coherent narrative. Ranging far beyond pure military history the story is multi-layered, combining objective analysis with a sensitive account of human reaction in the face of bitter, cruel warfare, disease and an inhospitable terrain. Military events are painstakingly detailed, and set in their political and cultural context. Equal attention is paid to both sides of the conflict and the insights made into Japanese plans and responses make the book uniquely informative, exciting and moving.

'If one had to select one book about the Burma War, this fine work is the best' Dekho, magazine of the Burma Star Association

'There will be few more thorough chronicles of World War Two's most dreaded front than Louis Allen's Burma: The Longest War' The Listener ... Read more

Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Agree on all accounts but one.
This excellent book is hard to put down but I am afraid that in going from a hardcover edition to a smaller paperback that the maps have become very hard to read. The letters are so small on some of the maps that they are nearly impossible to read. Hope the editors do something about it but I doubt it will happen. Minor flaw in a great read.

5-0 out of 5 stars The best book on the subject!
Here is one of the most precise book ever written on the whole campaign, starting with the drift to war in Burma and ends with the Japanese surrender. The book is loaded with tons of information on relatively small skirmishes to battles of epic proportions such as the Sieges of Imphal and Kohima, and there are many qoutes to go with the narrative. The book also covers Orde Wingate and his Chindits, Operation Thursday, and the lesser known participation of Chiang Kai Shek's Chinese forces.
This is a must have for history buffs and wargamers alike! I absolutely suggest you to read the whole thing, which may seem impossible at first, but once you have opened it you just can't put it down!

5-0 out of 5 stars Definitive Account
This is an outstanding book that must be considered the definitive single-volume account of the campaign in Burma in WWII. The author is a veteran of the campaign in the British Army where he was an intelligence officer. What is especially enjoyable about this book is that it includes many firsthand Japanese accounts in addition to Allied. The author speaks Japanese and drew upon official Japanese histories and personal interviews with participants. I have read several other books about this often forgotten Theater in WWII ( including Viscount Slim's "Defeat Into Victory" ), but this is the first book that includes Japanese sources. The author starts with the Japanese invasion of Burma and discusses the political situation in Burma prior to the invasion and how the Japanese used this to their favor. It includes the retreat of the British into India, their recovery, the British offensive in the Arakan, and Wingate and the birth of the Chindits. The author goes into great detail about Kohima-Imphal and this is where the Japanese perspective is so interesting. It follows with battles of North Burma and Stillwell, Mandalay/Meiktila and the race to Rangoon and the Japanese breakout of the 28th Army and then the surrender of Japanes forces. The book has good maps and it is not to difficult to follow forces on the battlefield. The most daunting task is trying to remember the Burmese and Indian names for places and trying to remember all the names of the Japanese sources and officers. But all this helps to add to the authenticity of the book. This book is a must read for anyone interested in WWII. It is well written, easy to read and very enjoyable. I highly recommend it. ... Read more

15. The Imperial War Museum Book of the War in Burma 1942-1945 (Pan Grand Strategy Series)
by Julian Thompson
list price: $19.95
our price: $19.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0330480650
Catlog: Book (2004-09-18)
Publisher: Pan Macmillan
Sales Rank: 450602
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Book Description

The campaign in Burma was the longest and biggest ground war fought by the British and Americans against the Japanese. Including 1000 mile-long retreats and the great Allied victory at Kohima-Imphal, Burma brought the Allies a wealth of incomparably bitter combat experiences. Using the Imperial War Museum's archives, Major General Julian Thompson provides a gripping and unforgettable picture of what it was like to fight in this extraordinary conflict.
... Read more

16. Air War For Burma: The Concluding Volume Of The Bloody Shambles Series. The Allied Air Forces Fight Back In South-east Asia 1942-1945 (Bloody Shambles)
by Christopher Shores
list price: $59.95
our price: $37.77
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 1904010954
Catlog: Book (2005-06-19)
Publisher: Grub Street
Sales Rank: 102945
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Book Description

In his monumental work Bloody Shambles, Volume Two, Christopher Shores described in detail the British retreat out of Burma, culminating at the end of May 1942. The monsoon then brought operations on land and in the air virtually to a halt for several months as the British and Indian forces prepared to retake Burma.

The Japanese however, had very different ideas. Air War for Burma picks up the story from the beginning of June 1942 and follows the hard-fought campaigns through to the end of the war in August 1945. Here the activities of the RAF and USAAF during the desperate fighting of 1942-44, resulting ultimately in victories at Imphal and Kohima, are fully recounted. No less a forgotten air force than was the 14th ‘Forgotten Army’, the RAF particularly was denied the most modern and effective aircraft until late in the fighting, struggling to survive with obsolescent equipment against frequently superior Japanese machines.

Described herein are the operations during the First and Second Arakan Campaigns; support for the Chindits in their long-range penetrations deep into enemy-held territory; the savage sieges of Imphal and Kohima; and the final victorious advance across the plains of Central Burma to Mandalay and Rangoon. Detailed also are the activities over the Indian Ocean and the East Indies of the Royal Navy’s aircraft carriers and the aircrews of the Fleet Air Arm.

Painstakingly researched from official sources, log books, letters and interviews, this is far and away the best reference work on the subject, and completes the set ... Read more

17. Edwina Mountbatten: A Life of Her Own
by Janet Morgan
list price: $27.50
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0684193469
Catlog: Book (1991-09-01)
Publisher: Scribner Book Company
Sales Rank: 500416
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18. Burmese Dance and Theatre (Images of Asia)
by Noel F. Singer
list price: $27.50
our price: $27.50
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Asin: 9676530867
Catlog: Book (1996-02-01)
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Sales Rank: 1353192
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Book Description

This handy and colorful little book traces the history of dance and theatre in Burma in the courts and countryside, and describes the various dances, plays, and musical accompaniment that evolved as a result of the country's cultural and religious mix and its changing political circumstances. ... Read more

19. Living Silence : Burma under Military Rule (Politics in Contemporary Asia)
by Christina Fink
list price: $19.95
our price: $19.95
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 185649926X
Catlog: Book (2001-05-04)
Publisher: Zed Books
Sales Rank: 184767
Average Customer Review: 4.75 out of 5 stars
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Book Description

Burma remains the odd man out in South East Asia. It is a military dictatorship, not part of the region's still-dynamic economy, and has a troubled relationship with the outside world, including that fact that it is the second largest supplier of heroin. This exceptionally readable account of Burma gives a graphic, often moving, and always insightful picture of what life under military rule is like for ordinary Burmese. This survey takes in a wide diversity of ordinary people and communities.
... Read more

Reviews (4)

4-0 out of 5 stars Insight of Burma under Juntas
The book can provide an insight of Burma under military rule.
The author has learned much about real concerns and issues in the country. The interesting is that the author was able to inform the rarely known rituals of the Junta. Many interviews were done and good and first-hand informations can be seen on the book.

5-0 out of 5 stars Comprehensive and useful
Cristina Fink's book Living Silence: Burma Under Military Rule is a hard-hitting examination of what life was (and perhaps still is) like under the repressive rule of the Burmese military. Using an extensive set of interviews, and the underground writings of dissidents, Fink outlines and looks at the real psychological consequences of years of repression. Perhaps the closest real world example of what Michel Foucault would call a "carceral society". Fink brings the Panopticon to life. My understanding of the issues in Burma was greatly enhanced by reading this book and I recommend it highly.

Miguel Llora

5-0 out of 5 stars A world apart...
This book takes one to a country that is "a world apart" in a multitude of ways from what we know here in America. A fascinating read that is sure to captivate and enrich the reader with newfound knowledge and awareness. A brilliant debut by an author I hope we'll see much more of in years to come.

5-0 out of 5 stars A good read...
A facinating, well written book that sheds light on an area of the world I knew little about. I usually find scholarly works somewhat dry and hard to get through. This book was hard to put down. I won't launch into a lecture on why you SHOULD read this or try to impress with my newfound knowledge of the struggles of the Burmese people. I will tell you that this a great, readable book that will educate you and hold your interest. Buy it. ... Read more

20. Letters from Burma
by Aung San Suu Kyi, Heinn Htet
list price: $15.00
our price: $10.20
(price subject to change: see help)
Asin: 0140264035
Catlog: Book (1998-01-01)
Publisher: Penguin Books
Sales Rank: 71893
Average Customer Review: 4.33 out of 5 stars
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Reviews (3)

5-0 out of 5 stars Much more than just a book !
This is not just a book. Along with Aung San Suu Kyi's two other major books ("Freedom from Fear" and "Voice of Hope"), this book is destined to be at the heart of the struggle - and eventually the victory - for democracy in Burma. Among the three, this is the one I found most wonderful. Vivid, direct, it makes the reader feel as if she/he is listening to Suu Kyi, with her wonderful Asian voice and Oxford accent. Suu Kyi talks about Burma, about her people, about herself. She tells of the tragedies of her people, in the most natural and serene way, as if she were telling of everyday life - because indeed, this is the Burmese everyday life. She does not inflate things, she does not push for her views, yet she reaches the reader's heart immediately - at least she did with me ! She simply expresses views and feelings along with plenty of thrilling facts and anecdotes. I can't imagine of any reader who won't love this book and won't feel inspired by this account from Burma's heroine. After reading this and the other books, I felt so close to Burma's struggle that I absoliutely had to go there and meet Suu in person. So I did, I took off for Burma and managed to meet her. I had met many world personalities before, but this was truly a unique event in my life. The pages of the book kept coming back to my mind, as I could finally see the source of all that strength and hope, the incarnation of Burma's struggle. In the end I was deported from Burma for having made contact with her. Now these books are my inspiration to keep fighting on for democracy in Burma in all ways I can.

4-0 out of 5 stars great read
As this book is a compilation of 52 letters written to be published as a weekly installment in a Japanese newspaper (each 2 or 3 pages long), it is an easy book to pick up when you have a few minutes. (In New York, we would call it a great subway read - you can read a letter or two between when you get on the subway and when you have to get off.) The letters combine Aung San Suu Kyi's political beliefs and accounts of the remarkable work of her political party (the National Democratic League) with vivid descriptions of Burmese culture and countryside. There are probably other books that focus solely on either the politics or the culture of Burma that do a more comprehensive job of describing it, but this seems like a great introduction to both.

4-0 out of 5 stars Insight into the plight of Burmese Democracy
This is a collection of 52 essays that Aung San Suu Kyi had written in the mid 1990's for a Japanese newspaper. She discusses a full range of topics including politics, religion, and the daily life of the Burmese people as seen through the eyes of the country's biggest proponent of democracy.

Her tales are fascinating and well written. They offer a glimpse into the world of an almost Orwellian regime and can peak the interest of readers unfamiliar with Burma's current state of unrest.

As a recent traveller to Burma, I was looking for more detail into Burma's history and details surrounding the nullified election in 1990. Though these issues are touched upon, each essay is a mere 2.5 page newspaper article which does not lend itself to such depth. It is however a fascinating read and a great introduction to Burma's struggle for democracy. ... Read more

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