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on 21 June 2011
I was surprised by the avalanche of stars for this work. As already pointed out, Osprey gives the author 96 pages to tell his story; and by the time you back out the photos, maps, drawings, introduction, table of contents, suggested reading, index, etc... I doubt if there is more than 50 pages of text. I compare it, favorably, to a Clift's Notes version of Edward's "Furthest Battle", or Kohima for Dummies. If I were a high school student in a history class and needed to write a book report, this is a good option.

Previous reviewers have already pointed out the strengths and weaknesses of this book. Like Charpoy Chindit, I would have found the "3-D" drawings a lot more useful if the artist had included the Dimapur to Imphal Road, the Jessami Track and the road from Naga Village to Merema and Bokajan. Otherwise, they didn't add measurably to the book, and the items that were hidden by the binding made using the maps a little frustrating.

Also, as previously prointed out by Charpoy, there are some errors that are surprising given Rob's familiarity with the subject.

On page 24 Merema is moved to the East of Naga Village and 138th Regiment would lead the "southern prong". In several places (pages 36 and 71 for example) he refers to "tanks" on the tennis court. I checked Sgt Waterhouse's report in Tank Tracks to Rangoon (pages 142 - 143) (Bryan Perrett, Robert Hale Publishers, 1978) to make sure, and there was only one tank on the tennis court. I just get the feeling that the editing was rushed and the proof reading was half hearted.

At the bottom of page 59, the author writes "While the immediate crisis was over, Stopford now had to prevent Sato from capturing Kohima and Dimapur." This statement seems to contradict the chronology on page 2 where Sato is not contemplating the capture of Kohima and Dimapur, but is, in fact, complaining to Fifteenth Army "that none of the promised supplies has arrived." On the same page on April 23rd "Thereafter, Sato turns to the defensive."

I am for anything that keeps the memory of Kohima alive and look forward to Rob's expanded work for Pen and Sword coming out later in 2011. I just don't think this was his best work, compared to earlier efforts.

I don't agree with the five star treatment, but maybe the rest of you are kinder then I am; and less demanding.

I want to close with a request to the other reviewers to take a look at the photo on page 36. The caption says it is a photo "looking "north-east with the edge of the Kohima Ridge on the left...". I would expect to be looking at Naga Village from that perspective and the photo doesn't look anything like Naga Village compared to other Naga Village photos. I was wondering if that is a photo of the Treasury Area or the reinforcement camp. Any help would be appreciated.

On a personal note I see that Bob Cook is mentioned in the Acknowledgements. Bob is the curator of the Kohima Museum in Fulford, south of York. I believe Fergal Keane also mentioned Bob in his acknowledgements. Its nice to see Bob get some recognition after all this time.
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on 18 December 2010
While the 14th Army may have been the forgotten army Kohima certainly isn't the forgotten battle. With so many books already written on the subject Robert Lyman and his publishers took something of a chance in going back to the battle/siege that saved India. It was a chance worth taking as the finished product is a compact, superbly written account of this most vital victory. Robert Lyman writes with a refreshing clarity. Only a writer with his gift for brevity could have told the story of Kohima in a neat volume of this size. The combination of photographs and the illustrations by Peter Dennis will help younger readers grasp the urgency and the awfulness of what was called the "Stalingrad of the East" and Lyman's clear communication will leave them with a pure picture of ordinary men doing extraordinary things. A superb piece of work. I bought three copies.
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VINE VOICEon 14 December 2010
Kohima 1944 is Robert Lyman's second outing for Osprey following on from his well received work on the 1941 Iraq campaign. Whist his earlier work dealt with one of the more obscure campaigns of World War Two here the author treads much more familiar ground. The fact that there are many other works out there covering this same battle presents a problem to in terms of presenting a balanced review. Clearly the limitations imposed by the Osprey format present major constraints on the scope of the work and little space is left of eye-witness accounts. One of Robert Lyman's strengths in his book on the siege of Tobruk in 1941 (The Longest Siege, Macmillan 2009) is the way he has corralled the many personal testimonies into a clear narrative. Osprey's 96 page limit is undoubtedly a handicap in this respect. To this end I have judged this work against other Osprey Campaign books rather than as a standard work published without these limitations.

Given those qualifications above I generally feel the work is a great success and one of the better Osprey editions in recent years. The author is helped by the limited scale of the forces involved with one Japanese Division facing off against three British/Indian Divisions. In addition the siege of Kohima itself makes a naturally gripping story but this is aided by the author's first-hand knowledge of the battlefield and his personal connection as Chairman of the Kohima Educational Trust. The text also presents a good balance of coverage between the Japanese and Allied points of view.

The maps do the job and are located in the right points to support the text (not always the case with Osprey) and for once subject matter of the original artwork is well chosen. As always, Peter Dennis does a first class job with the three battle-scenes, although the descriptions merely cut-and-paste elements from the main text. This is disappointing given the limited space available and could have been used to add new information as is normal practice. The photographs included are dominated by those from the British side although that is not the fault of the publishers and the labelling makes every effort to place them in the correct geographical and chronological point in the battle.

Overall one of the better Osprey campaign titles and another success for Mr.Lyman. My only reservation is that readers wanting a broader account with more depth will be able to find plenty of other works on Kohima at less cost than this publication. However I very much hope that we get to see a follow-up work from the same author on the other half of Operation U-Go covering the battles around Imphal.
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on 18 January 2011
I have been a fan of Robert Lyman's work, as well as being a fan of the Osprey series as a whole. Through personal correspondence and following news via the author's own web-site, this was another eagerly anticipated publication to add to my Kohima collection.

As mentioned by other reviewers, the size of the publication means that it cannot obviously compare to larger publications dealing this subject matter. Non the less it is an excellent companion, and very well researched as is usual of Robert Lyman's publications. Great maps, photos and artwork bring the narrative to life.

I would recommend this book to anyone with no previous knowledge as an initial overview / background to the Siege / Battle of Kohima, and also to anyone wanting a useful companion to sit alongside their existing collection. I look forward to more great works from this author. Many thanks.Kohima 1944 (Campaign)
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on 8 January 2011
KOHIMA 1944 by Robert Lyman

This is a good Osprey book. Not surprising since Robert Lyman's previous books on the war in the Far East, `Slim; Master of War' and `The Generals' are excellent. This account of the battle of Kohima is concise and well written and it provides a useful introduction to this important battle. Most of it's limitations are those imposed by the Osprey format itself, chiefly it's length. Fortunately the author's full scale study of the Imphal and Kohima battles is due to be published next year, and from that we can expect more detail and analysis than the space here allows.

The book is not without fault. Tim Hope-Thomson received little enough recognition for his brigade's stand at Sangshak, so we might at least spell his name correctly. Referring to Capt. H. Swinson of the 7th Worcesters is also unforgivable; Arthur Swinson was 5 Brigade's Staff Captain and author of one of the best books on Kohima. Unfortunately his book is not included in the `Further Reading' list.

The order of battle has several errors, but then OBs almost always do! For example; 20 Indian Mountain Battery and 2 Indian Field Company do not appear in the order of battle, although they are both mentioned in the text (albeit as `odds and sods' - they were actually elements of 5 Indian Division that arrived with 161 Indian Brigade). For some reason 6 Brigade has been transferred to 5 Indian Division, which wasn't present at Kohima. 7 Indian Division has no Field Park Company. The non-existent 50 Indian LAA Regiment is mentioned. The Wimpey squadrons, 99 and 215, are listed as part of Troop Carrier Command. And so on.

The maps are particularly disappointing. The one appearing on page 26 has omitted the Dimapur-Imphal road, perhaps the area's single most important feature, but it does include the non-existent 19 Indian Brigade! There are several relief maps which would have been more impressive had they been confined to single pages; as they stand, each spread over two pages, much of the detail is lost down the book's binding. The captions on these maps are largely pointless repetitions of information found in the main body of the text. The maps have also inverted the colours red and blue for own and enemy troops - very annoying - but a common practice nowadays.

There is also a pointless `Chronology' which wastes three precious pages.

The illustrations, although of a high-quality within the conventions of the genre, are disappointing in detail. The illustrator and/or author have chosen to illustrate members of both 4 RWK and 2 British Division wearing khaki serge battledress blouses in battle. I believe this to be a serious error. This is doubly unfortunate since the opportunity to explain from where this information was derived has been missed too; once again the captions contain no new information and simply regurgitate elements of the text.

The photographs are excellent. The author has included several aerial photographs, and these are essential if the reader is to understand the complicated geography of this battlefield. Also included are several excellent stills from the IWM film collection, many of them never before seen. We could do with more photographs and fewer drawings, but then this is an Osprey book, isn't it!

I would recommend this book as a short introduction to the battle of Kohima, and it will serve the interested reader as a basis for further study of the battle.

The text and photographs are good, however the disappointing maps and illustrations do let the book down somewhat, so only four stars, I'm afraid.
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on 8 September 2014
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