I bought this book soon after the paperback edition was published in 1975 (and paid the princely sum of 10p in Woolworth for it). It was a real eye-opener. This was the first book I had read from the Second World War that told me just how terrifying infantry combat was and how terrible the conditions under which it was fought.
Ken Cooper was a platoon officer in the 2nd Battalion, the Border Regiment, 20th Division in the XIVth Army; the "Forgotten Army" which recaptured Burma from the Japanese in the latter years of the War.
No written account can convey the reality of close combat, but Cooper's graphic description of a ferocious firefight in a Jap-held village comes close: the numbing effect of the bedlam of noise, the flash of explosions and automatic weapons, the bewildering effect of smoke, the choking fumes, the confusion of figures dodging and weaving amongst the foxholes, bomb craters, trees and burning huts, men killed and horribly wounded, "I struggled to force my mind through the swamp of numbness, fighting desperately to think clearly."
Cooper was a competent platoon officer and demonstrates how forethought and sensible planning could minimise risks and casualties, but he also had to endure some sloppy leadership. After one bloody repulse, "even some of the NCOs had turned `bolshie' and were threatening to soldier no more if we couldn't handle them better than we had that morning."
Another surprise for the 1970s is that the language of this book is unexpurgated. The f*** word and other choice expressions are much in evidence.
If you read General William Slim's account of the fighting in Burma "Defeat into Victory", you should certainly read Ken Cooper as a companion volume.