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on 23 April 2012
This is a remarkable account of the horrors that unfolded when the Japanese invaded Burma and swept all before them early in 1942. How can one be so ignorant of such a ghastly tragedy, that hundreds of thousands of civilians, servants of the colonial economy, both British, Burmese and Indian were instantly made refugees fleeing northwards from Rangoon to escape the brutality of the Japanese soldiers. Forced to walk into the jungle and to attempt to cross the mountains that barred their access to relative safety in India, they died like flies along the way. Disease, starvation and exhaustion took a terrible toll. Drawing on archival material and personal diaries, the author tells the story with compassion and insight in an account that is vivid and moving. It was one of those rare books that gripped me throughout and which I now must read again. I am so glad to have found it as it is a piece of history that needs telling, especially as Burma comes back into the world limelight as it awakes from decades of isolation. Little wonder perhaps that on independance they wanted to have nothing to do with the great powers who had trampled them for so long.
Andrew Hicks
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on 18 July 2012
Exodus Burma: The British Escape through the Jungles of Death 1942

Felicity Goodall has performed an excellent job in collating the available historical data and transposing it into highly readable prose. She captures the very essence of what life was like in Burma before,during and after the Japanese invasion, producing a lasting tribute to the forgotten refugees. She has highlighted with understatement the incompetent military leadership and management of the crisis which resulted in much of the hardship and needless loss of life that occurred during the exodus.
It was important for this book to have been written whilst historical fact could still be gleaned from those marchers who survive. The inaccuracy of many records must have made this a very difficult undertaking, but she has risen to the occasion with outstanding success.
I cannot recommend this book more highly to those who either have family connections to Burma in the days of the Empire or to those who would wish to learn more about the history of this beautiful and majestic land.
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on 4 July 2017
The print on my download is very faint and I cannot read it. Other books on my Kindle are fine and this is definitely a problem with this particular book. As I purchased it more than 14 days ago I have no redress. from Amazon . If you are thinking of downloading this item - DON'T!!
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on 21 December 2012
This is a really excellent book - I highly recommend it. The author has done what must have been much painstaking research - I sense out of compassion, even love, for her subject and the people she is writing about. Even though it is history, she weaves personal stories together to make her account extremely readable and extremely tragic. It is almost beyond imagining in what utterly dreadful circumstances how many died in the trek out of Burma. But as with all human stories, there is faith, hope and love at work, even in the face of so much destruction and death. It is high time this story is told. Someone please make a film.
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on 16 June 2012
This book gives a humanistic account of the terrible trials faced by the refugees without crossing the line into the sentimental. The author has clearly spent alot of time and effort researching her subject, none of which was wasted. It centres on the plight of civilians rather than the military, while commenting that Armies are made up of people and that soldiers became refugees too. It was a tragic part of history, yet many of the facts do not seem to be widely known. This may well be because alot of terrible events were taking place at this time, but I think the education authorities would do well to add at least some information about this to the school curriculum. All in all, an informative account of a bleak moment in history and the courage and determination of those who lived through it.
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on 1 March 2014
This wonderfully detailed account of the British exodus from Burma in 1942 has been very well researched and is most informative. My father was one of these refugees but never spoke of his experiences. I now know why he was haunted by them during the rest of his life.
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on 4 March 2015
I thoroughly enjoyed this short history
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on 29 May 2013
Very good read, painstakingly researched and a often unheard perspective from civilians and military alike. Highly recommended for those who want to read an accurate account of the human side of what ent on in Asia during world war 2 .
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on 21 May 2012
Both my father-in-law and mother-in-law were in Burma at the start of the Jap invasion and my mother-in-law trekked out with the Bombay Burma Teak Co families led by Elephant Bill and made their way to Shillong in Assam. I found this book very interesting but it was let down by the very poor maps of Burma - I had to use an atlas to look up where some places were.
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on 6 September 2012
This is a well written and well researched book recording one of the most remarkable episodes of WW2. I cannot think why the retreat out of Burma and the terrible conditions suffered by civilian and military alike are so sparsely recorded. This fascinating book goes some way to redeem this. I couldn't put it down.
My family were involved from the other end. My father was an Assam Tea Planter. The Indian Tea Association put him in charge of the raising of a labour force from the tea gardens which ultimately numbered 82,000. In early March 1942 he was given until 8th May 1942 (8weeks) to build a road, initially 12ft wide and tarmacced, 161 miles long mostly thro jungle from Dimapur thro Kohima, Imphal,Pallel and Tamu from India into Burma to rescue the civilians and retreating 14th Army. The road was widened,bombed,cut, repaired, and maintained by them till 1945. Approx 187500 refugees came out by this route. Many died on the way. The ITA set up refugee camps along the way (my mother worked in one of them). The more northerly Pangsau Pass route was even more ghastly. The Army,and the ITA porters and refugee camps helped save about 30,000 along this track. The Exodus ranks alongside Dunkirk and Gallipoli. A compulsive read.
Julian Pilcher
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