Customer Review

4.0 out of 5 stars Decent, if imperfect, 26 Jan 2014
This review is from: Forgotten Voices of Burma: The Second World War's Forgotten Conflict (Paperback)
Whilst I'm not quite so critical as Charpoy Chindit's 3* review, I must agree that the author's choice of structure is confusing. He chose to follow specific actions in detail, rather than going through the campaign in strict chronological order. Whilst it does help to keep individual operations & battles coherent, it also makes it difficult to keep an overview of an unfamiliar campaign; for me & for many others, I'm sure, Burma truly is a little-known "sideshow".

My standard criticism of this series is the poor quality of the photo's, as they are printed on ordinary paper. In this book, that is not so noticeable. However, this is mainly because far too many of them are portraits, where there is no detail to be lost, so they remain disappointing. Maps are also a serious problem. I suspect that many people, like me, are reasonably familiar with the geography of Europe and therefore stand a reasonable chance of working out where unfamiliar places roughly are. Burma, a very distant land with very alien place names, is another matter. The maps in this book are inadequate, badly organised, and will often leave you puzzled as to where the action was. To give one example, Maymyo is mentioned a great deal in the early part of the book, never in the latter. Trouble is, it's not till halfway through the book that you get a map where its location is shown (it's a few miles east of Mandalay). It doesn't help that, whilst place names are naturally given as the soldiers knew them, many have since changed (Maymyo is now Pyin Oo Lwin, for example).

I'm not sufficiently expert on the Burma campaign to question whether detail is correct, although I will say that veterans mis-designating equipment, confusing a Lee tank with a Grant, or Typhoons for Thunderbolts, isn't something that bothers me. It is enough that a tank or plane was there performing its mission; I can forgive veterans' errant memories! The strength of the book, as always with the series, is the excellent & varied selection of personal accounts. Burma was largely a land campaign, with a vital RAF component. This is well reflected in the balance of testimony chosen. There is just a little from civilians, a moderate amount from the RAF, some from African & Indian troops, a few contributions from the enemy (both Japanese & INLA), much from officers of Gurkha / Indian / African units, and the bulk from white Commonwealth forces. It's all deeply interesting; it's a just a shame that, on the whole, the presentation of the book could have been better done.
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