Forgotten Armies: The Fall of British Asia, 1941-1945

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Harvard University Press, 2005 - History - 555 pages
3 Reviews

In the early stages of the Second World War, the vast crescent of British-ruled territories stretching from India to Singapore appeared as a massive Allied asset. It provided scores of soldiers and great quantities of raw materials and helped present a seemingly impregnable global defense against the Axis. Yet, within a few weeks in 1941-42, a Japanese invasion had destroyed all this, sweeping suddenly and decisively through south and southeast Asia to the Indian frontier, and provoking the extraordinary revolutionary struggles which would mark the beginning of the end of British dominion in the East and the rise of today's Asian world.

More than a military history, this gripping account of groundbreaking battles and guerrilla campaigns creates a panoramic view of British Asia as it was ravaged by warfare, nationalist insurgency, disease, and famine. It breathes life into the armies of soldiers, civilians, laborers, businessmen, comfort women, doctors, and nurses who confronted the daily brutalities of a combat zone which extended from metropolitan cities to remote jungles, from tropical plantations to the Himalayas. Drawing upon a vast range of Indian, Burmese, Chinese, and Malay as well as British, American, and Japanese voices, the authors make vivid one of the central dramas of the twentieth century: the birth of modern south and southeast Asia and the death of British rule.

 

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LibraryThing Review

User Review  - Shrike58 - LibraryThing

Bayly & Harper are at their best writing about the social situation in Britain's Asian holdings on the verge of the deluge, on the initial period of Japanese occupation, and on how the subject ... Read full review

LibraryThing Review

User Review  - ebethe - LibraryThing

Okay, but lots of dates and descriptions, not much analysis (though some pretty broad statements of opinion). Lots of very long paragraphs, gossip and tangential information/observations. Not quite what I would expect from professional historians. Read full review

Contents

Escaping Colonialism
1
AUNG SANS FAR EASTERN ODYSSEY
9
SIGNOR MAZZOTTA FLEES TO BERLIN
15
MR TAN KAH KEE VISITS MAO
19
Journeys through Empire
30
A MALAYAN PASTORALE
37
THE NEW WORLD OF SINGAPORE
50
MALAISE
59
ANOTHER FIASCO IN ARAKAN
272
INDIA IN THE DOLDRUMS
276
THE GREAT STARVATION
282
THE SLOW FIGHT BACK BEGINS
291
1943 Personal Wars
307
THE SPIRIT OF ASIA AND THE MALAY NATION
315
THE SECOND COMING OF THE INDIAN NATIONAL ARMY
321
LIFE IN THE TIME OF TAPIOCA
327

1941 Last of the Indian and Burmese Days
71
INDIA ON THE BRINK
72
INDIAN POLITICS AS USUAL?
78
BURMA UNREADY
81
THE WORLD OF THE HILLS AND THE TRIBES
83
DORMANSMITH REACHES HIS BACKWATER
85
BURMESE AND OTHERS
89
THE GOVERNOR AND THE POLITICIANS
96
1942 A Very British Disaster
106
THE ARROW LEAVES THE BOW
113
THE BATTLE OF MALAYA
126
THE MODERN POMPEIIANS
131
FLOTSAM AND JETSAM
144
1942 Debacle in Burma
156
FROM SCORCHED EARTH TO GREEN HELL
167
BURMAS FALSE DAWN
178
DEATH OF THE INNOCENTS
181
WOULD INDIA HOLD?
190
THE LUSHAI LEVIES
197
THE NAGAS THE KACHINS AND THE ANTHROPOLOGISTS
202
AN UNNOTICED TURNING POINT
206
1942 The Abyss and the Way Back
208
THE NEW MALAI
217
BURMA IN LATE 1942
230
INDIA ABLAZE
244
THE FORGOTTEN ARMIES MOBILIZE
253
1943 Valleys of the Shadow of Death
269
UNEASY ALLIES
270
LIFE WITHOUT SALT
336
WAR BY PROXY
343
TOKYO CAIRO AND TEHRAN
356
1944 The Pivot of the Fighting
360
INDIA ON THE OFFENSIVE
362
IMPHAL AND KOHIMA
370
THE POLITICS OF WAR
383
JAPANS FORGOTTEN ARMY
388
1944 The Nemesis of Greater East Asia
393
HEROISM AND MURDER IN THE HILLS
394
THE CRUMBLING OF FREE BURMA
396
ROADS TO THE DEATH RAILWAY
405
SILENT ARMIES
409
THE PENINSULAR WAR
414
NEW BALLS AT WIMBLEDON
419
1945 Freedoms Won and Lost
423
INDIA MOBILIZED
424
BA MAWS LAST STAND
427
AUNG SANS REVOLT
433
RANGOON FALLS AGAIN
435
THE FADING LIGHT OF THE NEW ASIA
448
August 1945 An End and a Beginning
456
FINAL JOURNEYS DOWN THE CRESCENT
457
FORGOTTEN ARMIES FORGOTTEN WARS
462
Notes
465
Bibliography
517
Index
535
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About the author (2005)

Christopher Alan Bayly was born on May 18, 1945 in Tunbridge Wells, Kent, United Kingdom. He graduated from St Antony's College. He was the pre-eminent historian of India and the British Empire and a pioneer of the field of global history. He wrote numerous books during his lifetime including The Local Roots of Indian Politics; Rulers, Townsmen and Bazaars; Indian Society and the Making of the British Empire; Imperial Meridian; Empire and Information; The Origins of Nationality in South Asia; The Birth of the Modern World; and Recovering Liberties. In 2005, he received the Wolfson prize for history for his entire body of work. In 2007, he was the first scholar to be knighted "for services to history outside of Europe." He died of a heart attack on April 18, 2015 at the age of 69.

Christopher Bayly is Vere Harmsworth Professor of Imperial and Naval History at University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of St. Catherine's College.

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