The Road Past Mandalay (CASSELL MILITARY PAPERBACKS) Paperback – 26 Apr 2012
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The second part of the bestselling novelist's autobiography about his time in the Gurkhas during the second world war
About the Author
John Masters was commissioned into the Gurkha Rifles on the eve of the Second World War and rose to command one of the Chindit columns fighting behind the lines against the Japanese in Burma. He left the Army after the war to pursue a very profitable career as a novelist.
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Top Customer Reviews
With Wingate dead the Chindits found themselves supporting the American-Chinese forces under 'Vinegar Joe' Stilwell, a noted Anglophobe - indeed, misanthrope - who told Lentaigne the Chindits were a 'bunch of lily-livered Limey popinjays'. He then fought them until they were so exhausted that to Masters everyone seemed to move like sleepwalkers in slow motion. 'A Cameronian lieutenant fell headfirst into a weapon pit and two Japanese soldiers five yards away leaned weakly on their rifles and laughed, slowly, while the officer struggled to his feet, slowly, and trudged up the slope the shells fell slowly and burst with long slow detonations and the men collapsed slowly to the ground, blood flowing in gentle gouts into the mud.'
Finally, after a bitter series of signals, Masters' demand for medical examination of 111th Brigade was agreed to. Over three days all the remaining 2,200 men were examined, of whom those judged fit for service in any theatre amounted to 118. Masters added his own name to the list and
asked, with bitter sarcasm, for orders from Stilwell for the remainder of his brigade. Stilwell sent them: 111th Company, as he now called it, would guard a Chinese artillery battery.Read more ›
The book opens surprisingly, a long, long ways from Burma, Imphal, Blackpool or Rees's 19th Division. They're in the Middle East under the command of William Slim of the 10th Indian Division. If any of you have read Slim's Unofficial History you'll quickly recognize two of the incidents from Slim's book repeated in Master's Road Past Mandalay. The two incidents are immediately recognizable (think Deir-es-Zor and the Pai-Tak Pass), and its interesting to read about the two actions; once from Slim's perspective, then from Master's point of view.
This is one of the few books written by "one who was there." Think Swinson's Kohima, Evan's Imphal or Slim's Defeat Into Victory. Like Slim's errors at Kohima and Imphal, Masters allowed himself to be backed into Blackpool on the second Chindit expedition after Joe Lentaign (111th Indian Infantry Brigade) was promoted to replace Orde Wingate. Blackpool was a travesty and its refreshing to read an author take responsibility for his actions instead of blaming Stilwell, Slim or Lentaign.
What drew my attention to Road Past Mandalay is how many other authors (Allen, Lattimer, Edwards, Keane) reference this title in their bibliographies.
The book is more then Master's time in the Chindits in 1944. In the book he describes being assigned to staff college at Quetta. Because of this assignment to the Quetta staff collge, he missed the opportunity to be surrounded, killed or captured by Rommel's Afrika Corps in the Cauldron battles prior to El Alamein.
He also takes the time to describe life in India before and during World War II when it was still part of the British Raj.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I knew the author as he commanded the Gurkha battalion I joined in 1945 just before the Chindits were disbanded. At his best Masters' writing is superb.Published 1 month ago by John T.
An interesting picture of the Burma campaign from a soldier who was there. It goes well alongside George Macdonald Fraser's "Quartered Safe out here".Published 2 months ago by Mrs E J Lunn
John Masters second volume of his autobiography tells it as it was. No soft soap there.Published 4 months ago by Mr. R. J. Bewell
A classic from its era. John Masters is a very gifted writer, and he helps you feel you can understand the Burma campaign of WW2 from the inside. Read morePublished 5 months ago by Martin Johnson
Excellent. Well worth reading alongside 'From Defeat into Victory, W Slim, and 'Quartered Safe Out Here' GM FraserPublished 6 months ago by Mr Donald H B Andrews
A spellbinding account of the horrors of the Burma campaign and a gripping personal memoir of his times.Published 8 months ago by Elizabeth S
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