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on 2 October 2006
The book starts by outlining British planning in the inter-war years and shows how the seeds of defeat were sown well before a shot was fired.

The author's command of detail when describing the action on the ground is magnificent. He outlines the dysfunctional interplay between the various levels of allied command and the personalities involved in running the campaign.

There are six poor quality maps in the appendix but these are not referred to in the text. I would have found it easier to follow if the text had been linked to the maps, or diagrams had been used to illustrate the various battle positions.

There is a description of the closing battle and a balanced discussion on the controversy surrounding the desertions of allied soldiers in the closing stages, plus mention of the Japanese atrocities against the Chinese population.

The book closes with a summary of how the manner of the defeat affected Britain's relations and influence in the Far East. "Had Singapore fallen only after a long inspiring defence, the British would not have lost as much influence as they did".

This book is a detailed comprehensive account of the defence and fall of Singapore, a testament to the author's undoubted knowledge of the subject.
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on 20 March 2007
The fall of Singapore in February 1942 came as a profound shock to most people in Britain who had been led to believe, by Winston Churchill among others, that it was a fortress on a par with Gibraltar. But as Brian P. Farrell explains, British policy from the 1920s onwards meant `a useless base would be built as the basis of an improbable strategy'.

As he shows in a carefully constructed and well argued thesis, the cause of Britain's defeat runs like a thread through Imperial defence policy after the First World War. Churchill as Chancellor was among those contributing to this process, when Imperial circumstances made a `Singapore strategy' seem politically and economically necessary, before the Japanese threat seemed real. During the 1930s the threat of air power changed those circumstances while financial strictures meant Britain simply could not afford war with Japan, leaving diplomacy as the main defence. Meanwhile the RAF started building airfields in Malaya without consulting the Army which would have to defend them, believing they could win a war through independent air action. Lieutenant-General Percival was made a scapegoat but as Professor Farrell shows, it was the British military system that turned defeat into disaster. But while the book presents a thorough examination of these problems, the action is dealt with very cursorily, so it lacks real narrative drive. A useful, if somewhat flat examination of the subject.
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on 19 June 2007
I acquired this book after visiting Singapore and touring the battle sites as it was recommended by the guide. The author is a lecturer at Singapore University and it shows. 'The Defence and Fall of Singapore' is a gruelling read being delivered in the style of a thesis rather than a book intended to entertain as well as to inform. Despite its length and apparent depth, other books have turned up more facts and make the campaign and decisions taken by the commanders easier to follow. One for keen students only.
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on 7 December 2007
I can add little to the previous reviewers as it is without doubt a comprehensive study of this military shambles, where yet again the 'poor bloody infantry' bore the brunt of muddled decision making. It would have received 4 stars except the maps are at the rear of the book and appear to be poor photocopies taken from a well thumbed school pocket atlas. A greater appreciation of the tactical and operational twists and turns of this campaign would had been had with clearer maps, highlighting troop movements, etc. Perhaps a reprint in the future the author/publisher will find the extra couple of pounds for decent maps.
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on 14 February 2013
This is a highly detailed look at the battles for Malaya and Singapore in 1941-2, although by necessity, its analysis goes back to much earlier times. The author examines the political background to the ultimately weak defence of Singapore, and builds up a tapestry, weaving in global conflict, local politics, the British Empire, the military strategy, miltary command and finally the 'poor bloody infantry' and the battles on the ground.

The level of detail makes this book one for the student of military history rather than the man in the street, although it could have been made more digestible had it included copious maps within the text, and a summary sheet of the main individuals involved. I found myself having to refer to the [rather poor] maps at the back of the volume to get an idea of where things were happening, and even then I came away not much the wiser. I also kept having to refer to the index to find the initial reference to the main individuals, as I frequently forgot who was who among the myriad personnel involved.

All in all, a fascinating history of an indelible part of Britain's history, but for the layman it could have been presented in a clearer fashion.
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on 15 December 2014
Very good indeed on the fall of Singapore. JW
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