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on 18 February 2009
I warmly applaud any attempt to bring the Forgotten Army in Burma and India during the Second World War to the attention of the modern reading public. This campaign has long been the second cousin to the better known struggles in North Africa, the Mediterranean and Western Europe, and yet deserves to be told again and again because of its vast and untapped depths of experience and memory. It is full of rich veins of interest, in terms of personal history, battlefield experience, leadership, politics, strategy and much more. The experience of the individual fighting man is remarkably powerful, but relative to those of other theatres remains poorly told. There remain too few good books on this subject.

Unfortunately, Fowler does not add much to the sum of our knowledge of the campaign in what is a rushed account that is competent though uninspiring. I am disappointed with Fowler's attempt to bring this story alive. This is because he tries to do too much, and crams his thin volume full of every manner of subject matter, without any care for the story line or for the sanctity of any single theme. Seemingly on every page he races between reminiscences to grand strategy, from the dirty, hand-to-hand skirmishes of the jungle battlefield to the broad sweep of the action that traversed a land mass the size of Western Europe, and does so in a staccato prose that leaves the reader struggling to keep his eye on the story line. We move rapidly from Malaya, to Singapore, to Arakan, Imphal, Kohima and the vast plains of central Burma in an exhausting pace that leaves little room for detail or satisfying comprehension, let alone any pause for breath.

Fowler gives us little here that is new, either from the memoirs of veterans (Indian, British and Japanese) or in terms of a new perspective on the war (such as that from a Naga, Chinese or Japanese viewpoint) which a new book on this subject demands. His library is startlingly deficient in breadth. Some stunning individual accounts of the fighting at various stages of the campaign have simply not been used (such as those, for example by Raymond Street, Gordon Graham, John Neild, John Hamilton, John Leyin and David Atkins amongst many others). It does not seem that Fowler was even aware of that vast repository of intelligence on this campaign: the Burma Campaign Memorial Library at the School of Oriental and Asian Studies (SOAS) in London which holds every book on the campaign that has been published in English. The book is deficient as a result, and no match for the late Jon Latimer's magnificent Burma, The Forgotten War (John Murray, 2005) which retains its foremost position among general accounts of the war in the Far East.
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on 11 April 2009
The question is; Do we need another general history of the war in Burma?
Unfortunately this book answers a definite NO!
It seems largely based on recently published, and easily available, accounts, most of which offer far better value than their partial regurgitation here. The author offers no new insights or information, so all that he can add are his own errors. Some are straightforward errors of fact; geography seems to be a particularly weak spot - the Imphal plain is described as a 300' high plateau - and most Burmese place names are misspelled. He's not very good on the organization of either army - a field gun detachment of 33 Mountain Regiment, 21 Indian Division landing at Ramree, 151 Parachute Battalion at Sangshak, etc. etc. People, too, fare badly - JS Stilwell, Bill Tennant becomes George, Patrick Davis 3 Gurkha Rifles rather than 8 Gurkha Rifles, Souter becomes Souther and so on. You may consider these minor errors but they demonstrate the author's unfamiliarity with the subject. More worrying that he seems to think that China declared war on Japan the day after Pearl Harbor and - unforgivably, for a book on the Burma campaign - states that 14 Army recaptured Rangoon. It didn't.
You'll be better off reading some of the accounts that he relies so heavily upon - Randle's `Battle Tales From Burma' or Hudson's `Sunset in the East', for example, but, if you really must have a single volume account of the war in Burma, it's probably best to stick to the classic - Louis Allen's `Burma: The Longest War'.
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on 1 September 2010
Charpoy Chindit and Robert Lyman have it right. This is not a good, well written book. On the good side, its an easy read. It certainly doesn't bring anything new to the plate, is short on analysis and hop scotches all over the place. The maps are infrequent with insufficient detail and the photos included in the book have all been previously published in other books relating to the war in Burma.

Like Lyman, I applaud any attempt to publicize the role of the 14th Army in World War II. Fowler's book can be excused for its failures because I don't feel the author was attempting to be another Jon Lattimer, Louis Allen or Woodburn Kirby.

I compare this book to Burma - The Turning Point. The Battle for Burma or Burma Victory. Short on detail and analysis, nothing new, but an easy read for someone interested in the subject.

Yes, there are numerous typos and factual errors. On the other hand, if you take the time to dig into the footnotes there is an occasional pearl in the oyster to discover. I would only recommend this book to someone interested in the British Army in Burma in World War II. It's Title "We Gave Our Today" actually refers to the marker in Kohima for the 2nd British Division; while this book tries to encompass everything from the Northern Combat Area Command to the Arakan.

There are better books, but its an easy read and doesn't expect much from the reader. To get anything out of it you should have already read Louis Allen, Swinson, Brett-James or Jon Lattimer (or Lyman).
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on 29 September 2015
Cover 3/5 I have a different cover on my edition showing half a dozen soldiers in a jungle trench.

Content. Some interesting points about the lead up to the Japanese invasion of Burma but otherwise I felt not much to add to Defeat into Victory. The use of prisoners to build the jungle railway is almost mentioned as an aside. But for the fact my copy was in large print and an easy read I think I would otherwise have not read to the end.

Alexander of the Allrighters and Ywnwab!
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on 26 June 2013
Cant write a lot yet as I bought a couple of books about this part of the war, as my dad was in the regular army and volentered to go into the 25th Dragons who fought in Burma,
And I am still reading this book and others, But from what ive read, its realy intresting.
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on 16 October 2013
I purchased this for my brother who is really into all books giving true accounts of soldiers/RAF/Navy servicemen in WW2. He couldn't put it down and said it was a terrific read giving a true idea of what these servicemen went through at this time.
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on 25 December 2013
This book gives print to a subject easily & often overlooked. The book goes some way into telling of the fight and the conditions the troops had to face and the struggle to stay alive in the jungle.
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on 30 March 2010
This book is a welcome addition to the literature on the war in the Far East. Written by an experienced soldier and military writer it is one of the first I have read which sets the Burma campaign within the context of the war in the Pacific, an aspect that is long overdue.

It also tells more of the experiences of those who fought, the soldiers stories; far too often overlooked in war histories.

Finally, it reminds readers of the achievements of Field Marshal Bill Slim, one of the finest soldiers to come out of WW2. Those who remember the WD film on the Burma campaign will recall its title, "The Forgotten Army". This book helps to make sure the 14th Army, the men who served in it and it's Commander are not frgotten at all.

I can certainly overlook the odd typo, it goes on my shelf with George Macdonald Frasers autobiography and Bill Slim's "Defeat Into Victory"!
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on 28 December 2014
Sorry - can't review - book was a present for a relative
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on 1 October 2015
Superb book about the Forgotten Army.
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