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The Battle for Burma (Hardback)

WWII Japan & the Pacific Front

By Roy Conyers Nesbit
Imprint: Pen & Sword Military
Pages: 256
ISBN: 9781844159550
Published: 19th November 2009
Last Released: 23rd November 2009

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The struggle of British, Commonwealth and American-Chinese troops against the Japanese in Burma was one of the decisive campaigns of the Second World War. British India was threatened by the Japanese advance, the fate of the British Empire in the East hung in the balance. The tropical climate – dense malarial jungle infested with vermin and swept by monsoon rains – made the fighting, for both sides, a remarkable feat of arms. Yet the war in Burma rarely receives the attention it deserves. Roy C. Nesbit, in this highly illustrated account, traces the entire course of the campaign. In vivid detail he describes the British retreat and humiliation at the hands of the Japanese invaders in 1942. The Japanese were fanatical and trained in jungle warfare, well-equipped and backed with an overwhelming air power. The Allied response was to build up their forces on a massive scale – eventually over 1,300,000 personnel were involved – and to train them to fight in the jungle conditions. Their counter-offensive, launched in 1944, culminated in the battles at Imphal and Kohima which turned the course of the conflict, and the reconquest of Burma was achieved just before the atom bomb was dropped.

It is no longer true to say, as soldiers did during World War Two, that the Burma campaign is a forgotten one. The author of this book has put together a valuable collection of photographs, supported by a readable text, covering the initial disasters and the slow march to victory. By the end of the war, the tables had been so decisively turned on the Japanese that a masterpiece of planning delivered an inevitable blow. Anyone interested in this fighting will learn about the conduct of operations at all levels from the experience of horribly laden individuals at river crossings, to platoons struggling through the elephant grass, mules carrying supplies and so on.
As might be expected from this author, there is quite an emphasis on the air war aspects of the campaigns. There are plenty of studies of aircraft and their maintenance and some powerful examples of air photography (for example, the destruction of bridges which hamstrung Japanese attempts at resistance). Almost all the photographs are simply labelled 'author's collection', but it would be very interesting to know the provenance of such a diverse and interesting compilation. This quibble aside, the book packs a lot of information into a small compass and is well worth the read.

Matthew Bennett - Military Illustrated

'This is a first class book indeed and a must-read for any military history enthusiast. This is already a contender for my 'military history book of the year'. Not bad at all for a book released on 7 January!'

Daly History Blog, January 2010

'If only all history books were as good as The Battle for Burma. Roy Conyers Nesbit has put together an account worthy of the heroic people and momentous events it documents...The author's style is crisp and dynamic and he has a talent for compelling narrative. We are propelled from fact to fact, from incident to incident, in gripping fashion, with not a word wasted...I cannot recommend this book enough.'

Swindon Advertiser - Barrie Hudson, 1 February 2010

'The narrative is a masterpiece of précis that captures the essential ebb and flow of the campaign together with all the elements that made it so unique. The book is a true illustrated history in that the photographs and maps have been selected to reinforce and enhance the narrative. The photographs are carefully placed within the book not just in keeping with the chronology but to support the key points being made by the author at any given point. The combination of words and images work together to leave the reader with a strong sense of the essential features of the campaign; the battles, the equipment and the men...I recommend this book to anyone new to the Burma Campaign who wants to get a sense of the full sweep of events and to anyone else wishing to reacquaint themselves with this "forgotten" war.'

Steve Rothwell, rothwell.force9.co.uk website, March 2010
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