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4.8 out of 5 stars26
4.8 out of 5 stars
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on 7 March 2013
This book for anyone who has lived in Malaya is a Must. How a young man did so many things in a lifetime was amazing. He also chose a wife who was willing and capable to share all the hardships, constant moving, danger and endless separations to be his Helpmate in all of these adventures. I could not put it down. Not only is it a multi adventure story, but it is of a life well lived, serviing his country and helping Malaysia to be the success it is. All down to people like Boris Hembry
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on 16 February 2012
Boris Hembry tells the story of life on the rubber plantations of Malaya just as it was before the war. His ongoing account of the activities of the planters and their associates during the ensuing hostilities defies belief. A remarkable book.
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on 7 October 2014
Good for malaysian History enthusiasts!

Hembry wrote this as a family history record - and the family then later published it. This is both its strength and weakness.

Those in search of the "spymaster" narrative don't want to hear the names of their house, dog, neighbours, car. Equally uninformative are the rubber planting arguments with business rivals etc. While for social historians and family memories I can appreciate that these are crucial.

Hembry's witness to the Malaysian occupation in WW2 and subsequent communist emergency is why readers will probably buy this book. So a more forceful editor could have turned this into a greater book.

Don't read this if this is your first search for the story of the occupation and emergency. Instead read the mesmerising account of hiding from the Japanese for 3 years in "The jungle is neutral" by Frederick Spencer Chapman and the page-turning "The War of the Running Dogs: Malaya 1948-1960" by Noel Barber, both six star reads by my rating!
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on 18 June 2014
Really enjoyed this book & although i have read quite a lot about Singapore/Malaya during the 1930s & 40s i learnt a lot of new facts. The book is very well written & absorbing& full of interest right the way through. What a very brave & courageous principled man Boris Hembry was, i felt i really liked & admired both the man & his family. Liked the way it continued in the years after the war & enjoyed the book all the more because he's not afraid to tell it how it was. If you like a book that you can really lose yourself in then can thoroughly recommend this as a great read & page turner - a must read!Why hasn't a film been made,could see Daniel Craig as Boris...
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on 3 March 2012
A wonderfully sincere foray into another era, written with a charming, self-effacing dignity. Captures the atmosphere of another time with great tenderness without being sentimental. Gripping as well. Well worth it and very rewarding.
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on 23 October 2011
This book a first class biography about a little known subject and unsung heros, is written without pretension. A must read for anyone interested in the history of Malaya and the presence of the British. The adventures of Boris Hembry as a Bandit and Spy make exciting reading, his narrow escapes from death are played down with dry humor by the author, Not only a good story by an intelligent and brave man but a part of our history.
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on 22 October 2014
I found this book fascinating and really enjoyed reading it. Not only was it historically interesting but the author's personality shone through and I wished I could have met him. His views were often iconoclastic and I admired his forthright and sensible analysis of events - although I was surprised how much alcohol was regularly embibed in that era and location. I was pleased to find out about the post war situation in Malaysia because I know military people who were there then and my cousin was killed there.
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on 20 April 2016
The unusual entertaining and involving life history of Mr Boris Hembry a young Englishman his book starts with his schooldays and then to the beginning of a colonial career in the Malayan plantations working as a plantation overseer supervisor of a number of plantations among the vast rubber planting estates in Malaya during the nineteen twenties and thirties. His exposed position in Malaya inevitably leads onto him having a series of risk filled adventures while he was on the run from the Japanese after he had volunteered to go behind the Japanese lines as a stay behind team. The cataclysmic long premeditated and intricately well planned ...unstoppable chain of events lost us the Battle of Singapore before it had really started. Most of these stay behind teams found themselves without the necessary external support they desperately needed when Singapore surrendered. This event reduced these teams to being no more than exhausted fugitives constantly harried and hunted by the Malayan police and the Japanese Army.

Then the book describes his jungle experiences and his escape from Malaya and progresses to Boris Hembry's career as a spymaster till the second world war ended. Then he describes his role in the postwar conflict between the British and the chinese maoist freedom fighters/terrorists in Malaya and his subsequent retirement .
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on 13 August 2015
I am reading all I can find just now, on the Malayan Emergency and am glad to have found this. The 'planters' were a brave, if wild, lot, whose wives were more courageous than any others - living in isolation in dense plantations, with almost no company. The trees were so densely planted that it was impossible to spot any individual or even an approaching vehicle.
[The other titles of particular interest are 'The Malayan Campaign 1948-60" and the Malayan Trilogy by Anthony Burgess]
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on 1 September 2014
This superb and well written book tells of a British rubber planter in Malaya, whose knowledge of the country made him well suited for clandestine operations behind enemy lines during World War 2. When the war was over the author was in the forefront of organising the defence of plantations from the communist guerrillas during the Malayan crisis. This long book is a fascinating read from start to finish. He certainly had a charmed life.
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