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Myanmar 1942: The road from Rangoon to Mandalay
Alan Warren's latest offer is a concise and balanced portrayal of what is still known as the "Burma campaign" of World War II - although it cannot be seen in an isolated way from its local contexts and its crucial struggles took place in India.
Myanmar 1942 is a medium-length publication on what happened in Burma from the night before the Jap raid to the downfall of Mandalay and the withdrawal of the Burmese army's remains to India. Writing a similar survey on the Malaysian election in 2001, Warren skilfully shifts between tactics and the operative layer, sometimes blending together strategy from the London and Tokyo perspectives.
History is known - how a huge India colony became the most important battlefield in the Eastern United Kingdom because of the amazing and unpredictable conquests of Malaysia and Singapore by Japan. It has been all too much fear and too little too belated reinforcements in the face of an adversary too smart and too resolute to fight with UK, Burma and India infiltrators.
It' a poetry of panic-ravage, the aerial force's degradation, crossing rivers, burnt earths and bridges and courageous, slowing down action against General Lidas XV. There was a civil massive displacement during the operation, killing between 10,000 and 50,000 when they tried to enter India.
About 30,000 of the Myanmar army made it back to India, surviving 1,500 deaths, 10,000 disappeared and 2,500 injured. This was a routine, General Wavell admitted afterwards, that he had not anticipated that the Japanese would move so strongly and quickly. This led to the destruction of Burma's economic system and stimulated a number of opposition parties that would not welcome the restoration of Britain's power following the expulsion of the Japanese.
Warren focuses on the six months of Burma's invasion and addresses all key facets of the camp. It looks at the roles of the aviation powers, as well as the American Wild Tigers, the navy operation in the Bay of Bengal, the importance of the Burma Road in supporting China by the Allies and the roles of the China army in the resistance against the Japanese.
Warren' s novel is a welcome supplement to what could be called the'old school' of army annals without evil. Deduced from secundary resources, it would have been useful to know why Warren had written this volume (as there are so many on the subject) and to explore his thoughts on the campaign's story.
A number of important recent articles, such as Fergal Keane's Road of Bones, are not included in the citation. However, this should not distract from a very well-written and extensive presentation of the "first half" of the Burma election drive, the scale of which is more precisely defined by the US term "China-Burma-India".
That is because the camp must be seen in its transnational contexts and not as the history of the Burma/Fourteenth Army, which is dominating the UK outlook.