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The Battle for Singapore - The True Story of Britain's Greatest Military Disaster [Illustrated] [Hardcover]

Peter Dr. Thompson
4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

11 Aug 2005
The Fall of Singapore on 15 February 1942 was a military disaster of enduring fascination and seemingly unshakable myth.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Portrait; illustrated edition edition (11 Aug 2005)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0749950684
  • ISBN-13: 978-0749950682
  • Product Dimensions: 16.5 x 24.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 296,921 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


"An enthralling and perceptive account, which never loses sight of the human cost of the tragedy" - Yorkshire Evening Post "An insightful and dramatic analysis" - The Good Book Guide" --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Peter Thompson was a Fleet Street journalist for twenty years, deputy editor of the Daily Mirror, editor of the Sunday Mirror and a director of Mirror Group Newspapers. He has written numerous biographies including those on Jack Nicholson, Princess Diana and Robert Maxwell. Recent books co-written with Robert Macklin include The Battle of Brisbane (0733308961) and Keep off the Skyline (2004). He lives in London where he runs Mayfair News Service.

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THERE WAS NO BREEZE. Read the first page
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Front Cover | Copyright | Table of Contents | Excerpt | Index | Back Cover
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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
15 of 16 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars a great read - debunk those myths! 22 July 2010
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having just finished this book I must say it's a very good read on the subject.

The author successfully debunks myths that surround the whole sorry campaign. Such as seaward facing guns not being able to be fired north or the myth that Australian troops ran away (this was new to me by the way). But unfortunately, the author propagates other myths such as the Johor bridge being `blown up', it was more a temporary crater that the Japanese very quickly repaired!

Ultimately it was the British leadership from Churchill down that lead to capitulation of over 100000 allied troops. It's such a shame as had certain errors not been made and had better leaders been in place, the allies could have completely held the Japanese and reversed their early set backs. The Japanese were very near the end of their tether when the allies surrendered!

I'm now moving onto Singapore Burning by Colin Smith. Though the best book I've ever read on the subject is The Naked Island by Russell Braddon, who the author quotes in this Battle for Singapore. Very well worth a read!
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27 of 31 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Excellent account of a depressing campaign 13 Oct 2006
Peter Thomson is angry. Even after more the passage of more than 60 years, in reading his prose, you still feel angry yourself at the tales of incompetence, bungling and petty wrangling that marked Britain's disastrous exit from the Malayan peninsula and Singapore at the hands of the much more competent Japanese.

Through extensive eyewitness accounts, interwoven seamlessly with his narrative, Thomson's passions at times fairly burns off the pages.

An ultimately depressing tale it is too - despite the heroism of many individuals. In a few short weeks, a much smaller Japanese army out-thought, out-flanked, out-marched and out-fought British, Indian, Australian and other troops. Yamashita's 25th Army seemingly easily conquered Malaya and Singapore - Britain's supposed invincible fortress in the Far East.

The book starts slightly slowly with an extensive run-through the characters - civilian and military - who will play a role in the coming debacle, but it is when the action gets going and the Japanese invade that Thomson is at his best.

It is hard to believe the endless blunders on the British side, even though the lack of resources that Britain was able to spare for Singapore ultimately doomed the island. The Far East came a poor third in strategic terms for the hard-pressed British after defence of the UK itself, and supplying the army in North Africa.

There were not any first-rate fighter aircraft in the region - Spitfires or Hurricanes - which could stand up to the Japanese Zeros.

There were no tanks at all anywhere, and not enough anti-tank weapons to blunt the Japanese tank assaults which caused so many problems for the British troops.

But these seem to pale when set against the multitude of high level blunders.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable and authoritative. 5 Dec 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A fine book of one of the most impressive feats of the latest world war, an event that, besides marking the weakness of the foundations of the British Empire, started a process of awareness amongst Asian people that brought to independence and self government after Indochina wars.
After the fall of the city of the lion and even if the war was won, Great Britain and France had to come to terms with a completely different situation, one where all the assumptions that were at the basis of their colonial power, were no longer accepted and led to the dismemberment of their old empires. It is very ironic that this process was started by a war of aggression from Japan that at the end just wished to replace the old powers and proceed to a ruthless exploitation of other Asian countries, considered as inhabited by sub-humans.
The book provides a convincing and well documented picture of the state of unpreparedness and the general underestimation of the strength and willingness of Japanese armed forces that was prevalent in the colony and that played a great role in setting wholly inadequate defences in front of General Yamashita's troops. This underestimation was a trait that continued all along ww2 bordering into open racism but at the end of the day stereotyping was widespread in those years. When it combined itself with arrogance, it brought to unprecedented disasters like the sinking of two British battleships on December, 10 1941.
There is a remarkable change of pace in the book between the pre war situation, where the description of stylish colonial life is vividly rendered and the subsequent grittiness of the Malayan campaign and the siege of Singapore. The passage from the golden days of colonial rule to the horrors of war is perfectly expressed.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Well worth reading 18 Jun 2011
Just a quick couple of points to add to what the other reviewers have said:

1) Thompson does (no doubt unintentionally) propagate some myths (e.g. that the allied Buffaloes had no chance whatsoever against the Japanese A6M Zeroes) but he debunks many more.

2) There is not enough from the Japanese point of view, next to nothing from the point of view of the Indian troops and Dutch military. The Malay/Singapore (non-British) civilians are also not as well covered. For these reasons alone I would give it 4.5 stars if that were possible, but given what Thompson has achieved I'm giving it 5 stars.

3) Where Thompson does allocate blame I feel he has done so in a fair manner, indeed on the last page of the narrative he describes Percival as the "scapegoat of Singapore".

4) As Thompson points out Hurricanes were used in the defence of Malaya and Singapore.

5) The failure to give fighter cover to Force Z was indeed due to communications failures and misunderstandings between the Naval and Air commanders, but the key issue was that the Navy didn't signal for help until about 2 hours after they knew they had been observed by Japanese aircraft and an hour after they were first attacked. Thompson says that had the fighters been called for earlier "it is highly unlikely they could have saved either ship", and yet he himself points out the initial attack was by a formation of unescorted bombers. Even a small fighter force could have broken up this initial attack and forced a rethink by the Japanese commanders.

Overall this is a very readable, informative account which brilliantly balances a high level view with personal recollections of those involved. Recommended.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Another Political Blunder
An excellent account of a period in our history which should never be forgotten. A fiasco which was brought about be having "Yesterday's Men" in charge. Read more
Published 2 months ago by Invicta 55
5.0 out of 5 stars the battle for singapore
page turner. though i lived through some of it there was a lot i didn't know. the ineptitude of the colonial government and military leaders was stark and well set out. Read more
Published 6 months ago by Mr. Moshe Elias
4.0 out of 5 stars A good read
I was born in Singapore in November 1941, a few week before the Japanese army took over the island. My mother with me, a babe in arms and my six year old sister, was evacuated to... Read more
Published 6 months ago by Douglas Blackstock
5.0 out of 5 stars The Battle for Singapore
I much enjoyed this exposé of the loss of Singapore and, the more so, the part that this played in the destruction of the long-cherished idea that occidental man was... Read more
Published 9 months ago by Stumps
5.0 out of 5 stars Very good
Purchased as a gift for someone interested in this period of W W 2.
Well received.
Arrived in time for the event in good condition
Published 18 months ago by Megan
5.0 out of 5 stars In depth treatise of the battle for Malaya and its aftermath
To understand the Battle for Singapore you need to know about the battle for Malaya and the personalities involved. Read more
Published 19 months ago by Top Floor
5.0 out of 5 stars Battle for Singapore
I loved it plus the fact that my family are in it. We had some really hard times but we overcame them to come home thanks to our parents.
Published on 25 Feb 2011 by K. Bruce
4.0 out of 5 stars Too much blame for Churchill
The earlier reviewers share the prejudice that since the British Government did nothing effective, Prime Minister Churchill must bear the blame. Read more
Published on 10 Jan 2011 by PRH
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent book
A reminder that world war 2 was fought away from europe and that the fiasco that was the loss of singapore probably marked teh beginning of the end of the British Empire
Published on 5 Nov 2009 by Peter Bowes
5.0 out of 5 stars Enough to make any Britisher angry!
Another reviewer remarks that the author of this vividly-written history 'is angry' and that 'it would have been nice to have a bit more from the Japanese side. Read more
Published on 14 Aug 2007 by Geoffrey Woollard
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