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Suez to Singapore [Hardcover]

Cecil Brown


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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  9 reviews
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Gentlemen, start the war! 17 Dec 2005
By David Brockert - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
What a story. Mr. Brown gives you the feeling that you are there. In the first few pages, he is running from the Nazis, captured by them and sees the horror of war up close and personal. He communicates all the saddness and feeling of injustice for the Yugoslavs, etc.

He travels to Cairo, through Turkey, Syria and Palestine, and that is another tale of wonder and exasperation at the bungling of the British. He is a radio reporter, newly accredited to report the war in 1941 for CBS, and he is in the thick of it. But there are the British censors to work through. His battles with trying to get the true story out is the basis for this book, as well as the general story of the war from where he is.

My enjoyment of this book is based on the value of personal experience and perception that he tells about. When the 'Repulse ' is sinking, he lets you know that he was scared and at a loss for what to do. He talks about the places he goes, and the people he meets so well, you feel awed or happy or sad as the occasion presents itself.

The title of the book is a bit deceptive. It takes only about twenty pages to go from Cairo to Singapore, the rest of the book is about the war fought in the Western Desert, the development of the war in Singapore and his travel to Australia and on home to America. His last sentence, "Have you ever wanted to fall on your knees and kiss this American earth?" sums up the passion of his writing.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars First Hand Description of British Conceit, Complacency, in the Fall Of Singapore 1942, 2 May 2010
By Catamaran'78 - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
The book, by Columbia Broadcasting System correspondent Cecil Brown, was published in 1943 and has a small share of war time talk of 'why we fight'. This is overwhelmingly surpassed by his criticisms of how the war in the Pacific theater was run prior to 1943, both by the British and the United States. Most of his reports were radio broadcasts which were transmitted to America, but only after approval by British or Australian censors.
The value of the book is the authors experiences and first hand view of the fall of Malaya, and Singapore, which he left on a PBY weeks before the fall. This is also the only account I have read by a survivor of the sinking of the Prince of Wales and Repulse by Japanese bombers, on the east coast of Malaya in December, 1941. Mr. Brown was on the Repulse. If Mr. Brown did not witness an event himself, he quotes names and dates for those who were there. He reports word for word how his radio broadcasts from Singapore and his cabled stories back to America were censored by the British, and how eventually the British authorities in Singapore muzzled him by pulling his press credentials and asking him to leave. The reason, his factual descriptions of the deteriorating situation were 'bad for morale', especially for the local Asiatics. On page 529 of the book, Brown quotes one of the last correspondents to escape Singapore, Harold Guard, of United Press, as saying near the end in Singapore, General Percival had called in all correspondents and said, "I am very much exercised by these alarmist reports you are writing. They are certainly unjustified. I can assure you that no Jap will set foot on this island." The next day the Japanese crossed the Straits of Johore onto Singapore Island in force. Brown also compares the British censors with those he dealt with in fascist Italy, and notes that only by reporting the actual situation on the ground will the folks at home take the measures necessary to win the war.

Mr. Brown mentions the scene in the Canberra just after reports that Darwin had been bombed by the Japanese: "I sat through part of that session at the House, listening in amazement to the inane, vapid utterings of the men who represented the people of Australia. They were concerned with pork barrel measures and incidentals of no importance even in peace time." He also mentions that ships sunk at Darwin had not all been unloaded of vital aircraft and parts from America due to a work stoppage and strike at the docks. Brown met with the Prime Minister of Australia and many other leading public figures in his work as a leading American correspondent.

It is an excellent book written when the outcome of the war was by no means certain, and captures the people and the mood of the times as the Japanese advanced towards Australia. It is written like no one, but someone who had lived through it, could do.
5.0 out of 5 stars Good quality. Timely arrival 8 July 2014
By Don J. Williamson - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
Received as expected. Good quality. Timely arrival.
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant Book On Collapse of British Empire In Malaya 12 Dec 2010
By Herbert H. Highstone - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Mr. Cecil Brown's book is a brilliant and angry account of the weakness of the
British Empire in Malaya and how it distintegrated almost instantly under
the determined attack of the Japanese forces after Pearl Harbor. The military
details will be fascinating for any veteran to read. Cecil Brown describes, for
example, the very poor performance of a fighter aircraft called the Brewster
Buffalo. I was amused to learn that this plane was designed and manufactured in
the United States! The Buffalo was among the first generation of aluminum
fighters, which means that it was about 2000 pounds too heavy. It also had the
fat, bulbous profile of the early metal aircraft which gave it far too much
skin friction. Its weight and excessive wetted surface made it a very slow crate
which was no match for the much thinner and lighter Japanese Zero. By contrast,
in the Finnish-Russian War, the Buffalo performed very well indeed. Its heavy
construction enabled it to cope easily with the rough airfields of that region,
and it was more than a match for the canvas and wood biplanes that the Russians
were sending against Finland.

People in the know described Singapore as "the fortress without a back door"
because it had essentially no military defenses whatsoever in the rear area.
It was designed exclusively to repel a seaborne attack, which was supposed to
be repelled by a few obsolete naval guns from World War One. But when the
Japanese came down the peninsula, they just walked in. It's incredible to read
about the blimpish blindness of the British generals who absolutely refused to
improve the fortifications because, get this, it might be bad for civilian
morale!

Lower-ranking British officers were in despair as the Japanese rampaged toward
their inevitable victory. One officer told Brown that he wanted to die in
Singapore because he couldn't stand any more retreats. The evacuation of Penang
was especially shocking. In that important city, absolutely no preparation had
been made against air attack, so there were literally piles of human bodies
in the streets. The British officials fled so fast that they left the powerful
radio station completely intact. The Japanese merely flipped a switch and
began broadcasting their own propaganda to Singapore. The British government
didn't allow any mention of which cities in Malaya had already been
conquered by the Japanese, but people soon discovered that they could figure
this out for themselves by noting which bank branches had been closed.

The utter collapse and disintegration of a weak, complacent, and incompetently
run imperial colony is a very engrossing story which is not often the subject
of a book. The collapse of Singapore is a model and paradigm for other
stories of failed empires. One of my friends compares it to the fall of Saigon.
Needless to say, most British historians try to pretend that this book doesn't
exist. The mood is similar to the "End of Empire" TV series which you may also
have enjoyed if you're a history buff. Winston Churchill probably hated this
book, if indeed he ever read it, but that makes Cecil Brown's amazing tale
even more fascinating. To the very end, no one in Singapore seemed to realize
that the Japanese troops would be marching down their streets in just a few
days. Brown escaped by air shortly before the end, which was absolute hell with
fires burning all over Singapore and rebellious gangs of British soldiers
commandeering small boats in a desperate attempt to escape. It would make a
wonderful movie which would probably not be very popular in Windsor Castle.
5.0 out of 5 stars Start of the War 31 Mar 2008
By David Brockert - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
"Suez to Singapore" by Cecil Brown, 1942(?)
Gentlemen, start the war!

What a story. Mr. Brown gives you the feeling that you are there. In the first few pages, he is running from the Nazis, captured by them and sees the horror of war up close and personal. He communicates all the saddness and feeling of injustice for the Yugoslavs, etc.
He travels to Cairo, through Turkey, Syria and Palestine, and that is another tale of wonder and exasperation at the bungling of the British. He is a radio reporter, newly accredited to report the war in 1941 for CBS, and he is in the thick of it. But there are the British censors to work through. His battles with trying to get the true story out is the basis for this book, as well as the general story of the war from where he is.
My enjoyment of this book is based on the value of personal experience and perception that he tells about. When the 'Repulse ' is sinking, he lets you know that he was scared and at a loss for what to do. He also tells about the deaths from miscalculation that he witnessed (He jumped from the smokstack and hit the side of the ship, not the water, and broke every bone in his body.) He talks about the places he goes, and the people he meets so well, you feel awed or happy or sad as the occasion presents itself.
The title of the book is a bit deceptive. It takes only about twenty pages to go from Cairo to Singapore, the rest of the book is about the war fought in the Western Desert, the development of the war in Singapore and his travel to Australia and on home to America. His last sentence, "Have you ever wanted to fall on your knees and kiss this American earth?" sums up the passion of his writing.
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