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Do we need another general history of the war in Burma?
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'.