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Another Man's War: The Story of a Burma Boy in Britain's Forgotten African Army Hardcover – 4 Sep 2014


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Product details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Oneworld Publications (4 Sept. 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1780745222
  • ISBN-13: 978-1780745220
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 15.2 x 23.5 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (13 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 302,769 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Barnaby Phillips is a TV and radio journalist. He worked for 15 years with the BBC, mainly in Africa, and was based in Mozambique, Angola, Nigeria and South Africa. In 2006 Barnaby joined Al Jazeera English, and lived in Greece for 4 years. He's now back in his native London. 'Another Man's War' is Barnaby's first book. It's based on his award-winning 2011 documentary 'The Burma Boy'.

Product Description

Review

‘Barnaby Phillips has uncovered a tale which touches the world in every sense. The story is a deceptively simple one, of a lanky boy who runs away from his dusty Nigerian village to join the British Army and is left for dead thousands of miles from home in the Burmese jungle. The miraculous sheltering and survival of Isaac Fadoyebo not only make an irresistible human drama. They also illustrate the terrifying global swirl of the conflict. Told with warmth and colour, this account of a forgotten soldier in a forgotten army in a forgotten war will not itself be easily forgotten.’

(Ferdinand Mount, author of The New Few)

‘Dramatic, moving, often shocking, painstakingly researched and brilliantly told, Another Man’s War is a story the world should hear, not just so that West Africans may know the part they played in the Burma campaign and in the Second World War, but so that Britain and the world knows it too.’

(Aminatta Forna, author of The Hired Man and The Memory of Love)

Another Man’s War is a testament to the kindness of strangers and the power of memory. Meticulous research is matched by profound human emotion.’

(Lindsey Hilsum, International Editor, Channel 4 News)

‘A rich story, richly told. An inspiring instance of common human deceny, handled brilliantly by a writer whose research is as dogged as his touch is fine.’

(Tim Butcher, author of Blood River and Chasing the Devil)

‘The hard-won victories of the Second World War define British identity to an extraordinary degree. Phillips illuminates vividly, through a very human story, how that ostensible struggle between democracy and fascism was experienced and interpreted by a large majority of the world’s population. Another Man’s War admirably complicates and deepens our sense of history.’

(Pankaj Mishra, author of From the Ruins of Empire)

‘An enthralling human story of soldiers whose sacrifice has been too long neglected… This book deserves to become a classic of war history.’

(Fergal Keane, BBC Foreign Correspondent and author of Road of Bones)

‘Brimming with facts, anecdotes and pathos, this page-turner is a must-read for anyone interested in military history and Nigeria’s transformation in the mid-twentieth century.’

(Noo Saro-Wiwa, author of Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria)

‘Two young West African soldiers shipped halfway across the world in 1943 to fight for the British in Burma find themselves abandoned – wounded, starving and sick – in the unmapped jungle of the Arakan. Their astonishing adventures are reconstructed here in gripping detail… A real-life thriller with sobering implications for the British reader – but I found it impossible to put down.’

(Hilary Spurling, author of Burying the Bones)

‘Excellent… such a gripping and valuable contribution to the literature… fascinating’ 

(African Arguments)

'Such a moving tribute to the power of the human spirit that it ranks alongside such classics of wartime literature as THE GREAT ESCAPE and BOLDNESS BE MY FRIEND’ Five stars 

(Daily Telegraph)

'hypnotically told'

(Daily Telegraph Books of the Year)

"Another Man's War is riveting. It's an extraordinary story, well-researched and beautifully told — but not about the World War II you might know. Phillips delves deep into relationships, identity and much more in this stunning book. I couldn't put it down."

(NPR)

‘Impressive… Phillips is a confident narrator… a gripping military history which brings African witnesses to the dying days of the British Empire out of the shadows’ 

(TLS)

'An extraordinary story of moral fortitude and strength of character, calling to mind two other forest war classics —Spencer Chapman’s The Jungle is Neutral and George MacDonald Fraser’s Burma memoir Quartered Safe Out Here... [Phillips] captures nuances of Nigeria that only a man who knows and loves a place and people can... an extraordinary story, very well told'

(Spectator)

About the Author

Barnaby Phillips is a senior correspondent for Al Jazeera English, which he joined at the time of its launch in 2006. His documentary Burma Boy won the prestigious CINE Golden Eagle Award. Previously, he was for fifteen years a correspondent for the BBC, reporting primarily from Africa. Phillips grew up in Kenya and now lives in London. This is his first book.

Customer Reviews

4.8 out of 5 stars
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mischa Scorer on 15 Oct. 2014
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
On one level this is a very touching human story about Isaac, a poor Nigerian teenager who joined the British army in the Second World War, was shipped to fight the Japanese in Burma and in a skirmish in the jungle was wounded and left to die with a shattered leg. For weeks he was barely able to keep alive or even stand up. Hiding in ditches and dragging himself along by night in fear that at any moment Japanese soldiers might find him. Eventually he was given sanctuary by a heroic Burmese villager at great risk to himself. At the end of the war the still only 20 year-old Isaac finally returned home and lived a long and successful life as a civil servant.

But those are just the bare bones of the narrative. Phillips tells the story with great vividness. His account of fighting in the dark, dense tropical jungle, perhaps more terrifying than any other form of warfare, is spellbinding. There is an unforgettable description of the soldiers moving through the jungle in the monsoon. Weeks of incessant downpour with every item of clothing and kit soaked, backpacks weighing double and feet festering and rotting. And the constant fear of a Japanese ambush round every corner.

The author has a wonderful eye for detail. He has obviously also done a huge amount of first hand research. The information he has dug up (presumably by talking to a lot of very old men in Britain, Japan and Africa who fought in the Burma Campaign) forms a priceless and probably unique historical record of that campaign from the strategic and political as well as the personal point of view. Phillips writes like a disciplined historian making nothing up or gratuitously over-dramatising his story.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Barneys mum on 25 Sept. 2014
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I brought this book having read a review in the paper.The story is about Isaac Fadoyebo a 19 year old Nigerian village boy who joins the British army and ends up fighting in the Arakan in Burma. He gets injured and is left behind in Japanese held territory when the troops retreat, he is joined by another soldier and the two of them survive injury, lack of food and clothing and the monsoon thanks to a local villager who risks his life to help them.
This is Barnaby Phillips's first book and I am sure it will not be his last. He tells the reader about Nigeria before the war, its involvement in WW2 and the hows and whys of the Burmese part in the war. The easy manner in which this book is written brings the characters to life as he weaves the narrative through the history of first Nigeria and then Burma. He visits Isaac in Nigeria and tells the reader what happened to him and his country in the post war years and then travels to Burma to take a letter from Isaac to his rescuer Shuyiman.
I could not put this book down, it is a fascinating story, beautifully researched and written. I particularly liked the final paragraph following Isaacs death…."The Yorubas say the end of a long life well lived is a time for celebration, not mourning. Death is not the end, just a transition to another place."
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Amanda Jenkinson TOP 500 REVIEWER on 25 Jan. 2015
Format: Kindle Edition
Barnaby Phillips’ meticulously researched and well-documented account of the largely forgotten African soldiers who were recruited by the British Army to fight the Japanese in Burma during the Second World War is successful on so many levels. At its heart is the true story of Isaac Fadoyebo who at 16 became a “Burma Boy” and only just survived to return to his native Nigeria and tell his story. Severely wounded he was taken in by a family deep in the jungle and cared for, at much risk to their own safety, until the British broke through to rescue him. Finding by chance Isaac’s memoir in the Imperial War Museum, Barnaby Phillips decided to follow up the story and the result is this compelling book. Little is known, and even less remembered, about the many Africans who fought for the British and this book goes some way to rectifying the situation. As such it is an important work of military history. But the author does much more than tell the story of just one man. He goes into the history of both Burma and Nigeria, he talks about colonialism, racism and nationalism, and posits that expecting the colonised to fight on behalf of the colonisers actually hastened the end of Britain’s colonial empire. Isaac’s was a remarkable adventure and this is a remarkable book, well worthy of all the plaudits it has already garnered. I recommend also visiting Phillips’ website where you can see the documentary from which the book evolved.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By malcolm brabant on 27 Nov. 2014
Format: Hardcover
I can't praise this book highly enough. Barnaby Phillips has done a tremendous job shining a light on one of the forgotten heroes of the Second World War. I confess to being always under the impression that the British war in Burma was fought by Brits. And it came as a surprise to discover that much of the fighting and dying was done by West Africans, performing a thankless duty for their colonial masters. Isaac, the young Nigerian medic, whose story Barnaby relates, is critically wounded within seconds of his being in action. His survival in the Burmese jungle, protected by a Muslim with a huge heart at great risk to himself, is nothing short of miraculous. Isaac's war has to be one of the most futile military adventures of all time, and yet he bears his misfortune with great stoicism. Phillips' meticulous research and his bright writing style make Another Man's War a genuine page turner. His passion for Nigeria, where he served with distinction as a BBC correspondent, and for Burma shine through. He also performed a marvellous piece of detective work tracking down the family of Isaac's protector, more than sixty years after the event. No mean feat while facing the insidious spy network of the former Burmese dictatorship. Bravo.
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