- Paperback: 688 pages
- Publisher: Piatkus; New Ed edition (31 May 2006)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0749950994
- ISBN-13: 978-0749950996
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 4.4 x 19.7 cm
- Average Customer Review: 28 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 215,599 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
The Battle For Singapore: The true story of the greatest catastrophe of World War II Paperback – 31 May 2006
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"An enthralling and perceptive account, which never loses sight of the human cost of the tragedy" - Yorkshire Evening Post "An insightful and dramatic analysis" - The Good Book Guide"
The Fall of Singapore on 15 February 1942 is a military disaster of enduring fascination. For the 60th anniversary of the liberation of the island, Peter Thompson tells the explosive story of the Malayan campaign, the siege of Singapore, the ignominious surrender to a much smaller Japanese force, and the Japanese occupation through the eyes of those who were there - the soldiers of all nationalities and members of Singapore's beleaguered population.See all Product description
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After the fall of the city of the lion and even if the war was won, Great Britain and France had to come to terms with a completely different situation, one where all the assumptions that were at the basis of their colonial power, were no longer accepted and led to the dismemberment of their old empires. It is very ironic that this process was started by a war of aggression from Japan that at the end just wished to replace the old powers and proceed to a ruthless exploitation of other Asian countries, considered as inhabited by sub-humans.
The book provides a convincing and well documented picture of the state of unpreparedness and the general underestimation of the strength and willingness of Japanese armed forces that was prevalent in the colony and that played a great role in setting wholly inadequate defences in front of General Yamashita's troops. This underestimation was a trait that continued all along ww2 bordering into open racism but at the end of the day stereotyping was widespread in those years. When it combined itself with arrogance, it brought to unprecedented disasters like the sinking of two British battleships on December, 10 1941.
There is a remarkable change of pace in the book between the pre war situation, where the description of stylish colonial life is vividly rendered and the subsequent grittiness of the Malayan campaign and the siege of Singapore. The passage from the golden days of colonial rule to the horrors of war is perfectly expressed.
One aspect that I found not wholly convincing is the description of fighting as usually one sided, with Empire troops always heroically confronting much superior Japanese troops and inflicting grievous losses to them, but at the end of the day the body count tells a different story and Empire troops had twice the amount of casualties of General Yamashita's troops.
The feeling that Singapore was left to fend for itself, or even sacrificed pervades, by then with no naval or air support and Britain concentrating on Europe, the author puts forward all aspects of the matter.
The outmoded and outdated tactical thinking of the generals and commanders is matched by the attitude of arrogance, racism and vast underestimation of the Japanese, the photograph of British commanders in tin hats and shorts and carrying flags to the surrender signing just about typifies this.
Recommended reading if you've never read an in depth account of this before, and even if you have.
The political background to the outbreak of war is well described and the accounts of the subsequent military actions are excellent, well supported with appropriate maps. The ill-effects of the general complacency about the fighting capabilities of the Japanese, plus the personality differences/clashes in the British High Command are covered in detail -quite rightly as they seemed to have doomed the defence from the start.
The author has done a splendid job of weaving the military scenario into a well-described geo-political context. It is an excellent background for understanding the post-WWll political machinations of the region.
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