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Forgotten Armies: Britain's Asian Empire and the War with Japan. Christopher Bayly and Tim Harper
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Forgotten Armies: Britain's Asian Empire and the War with Japan. Christopher Bayly and Tim Harper

3.77 of 5 stars 3.77  ·  rating details  ·  79 ratings  ·  16 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 destroy ...more
Paperback, 554 pages
Published August 4th 2005 by Penguin Books (first published September 30th 2004)
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Antoine Vanner
A superb but terrifying book

This can be fairly described as a “terrifying” book because it tells, in often horrific detail, what can happen to entire nations when they prove unwilling or incapable of recognising threats and challenges and do not have the institutions in place to deal with them. The focus is on the British colonies of Malaya (now the peninsular portion of Malaysia), Singapore and Burma, and on the eastern provinces of India – Bengal, Assam and what is now Bangladesh . The title i
carl  theaker

Saw a Commanders of Singapore show on the history channel and it piqued my interest, particularly in the pre-war era of Southeast Asia. A positive review of this book set me on its tracks. This book takes a perspective from about 20,000 feet. It discusses the battles, but not a blow by blow account. though the fall of Singapore is covered in some detail. The focus is more on the political interplay and the effects on
colonization and de-colonization. I found it all fascinating.

This book does a g
Rowland Bismark
Forgotten Armies is a lively history of the Second World War years in the British crescent that ran from Calcutta through Assam, Burma and Malaysia to Singapore. Its focus is on political and social history, on the moulding of new identities, the overturning of old structures, the rise of new leaders, and the other changes that were to set the region on a new course.

Bayly and Harper begin with pre-war society, describing the imperial heyday of the 1930s, based on surprisingly fragile foundations
Eric Smith
Because I have so many connections and friends in Singapore, I decided to read this book about the fall of the British Empire in Southeast Asia. I"m glad I did, it's a good book. It is not a military history, covers the war yes, but it focuses on the social and political aspects of the war, of the almost immediate collapse of the British in 1942, after 200 years, to the coming of the new overlords, the Japanese, to the fall of Japan and the reconquest. But the main point is that the war did not ...more
The was a great book. However, it is analytical rather than narrative history. Therefore, if you are looking for a great narrative you will be disappointed here. Forgotten Armies exams such things as economics, race relations, social structures, geography, etc. As history, though, it is great...this book really puts the great crescent (India to Singapore into context and how it functioned during the war. We see almost nothing of the American operations in the Pacific during the war...just hear t ...more
This is a social history of peoples populating the 'crescent' ranging from Calcutta to Singapore during the war. It's meant to be read together with the sequel, Forgotten Wars, but I'm not sure if I can afford the time right now...

While India and Thailand are touched on, Burma and Malaya are the twin mainstays of the narrative. Most of the 'hot' events covered in here - the fall of Malaya, the Bengal famine, the routing of the British and so-called shattering of the white supremacy myth - are pr
The Fall of British Asia is one of the better analyses of how the British Empire came under strain during the course of World War II. This accurately assesses the effect that the Japanese had on the Crescent of British power and a look at what happened to the British islands of the pacific. Although many colonial groups thought the Japanese would be their key to freedom they quickly realized how wrong they were and this book does a great job of not only showing the colonial side but the British ...more
An account of the British Empire in Asia from its fall to the Japs in late '41 to their surrender in '45. Mainly describing how the defeat and hasty retreat of their former colonial masters helped sow the seeds of nationalism from India and Burma to Malaya. Interesting to learn the duplicity of Indian and Burmese soldiers, who switched sides depending on whether the Japs or Brits had the upper hand during the course of the war. Expected more on the actual battles, but this is as much a social hi ...more
I enjoyed reading this book. My main reason for choosing it was to have more background information for my great great uncle and for my great grandfather's nephew's family living in Burma. And still racism is a problem not just with the English and Americans but elsewhere in the English speaking and western worlds.
List of Illustrations
Some Key Characters
Preface: The Many 'Forgotten Armies'

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


Scott Silverman
We've all heard the story of how the Japanese surprised the English in the way they invaded Singapore... now here's the rest of the story. Bayly's a master.
Rachael Lum
Informative and well-researched, shedding light on an oft-neglected side in World War Two but hugely affecting subject in South East Asian history.
Excellent history book, perfectly balancing drama and narrative with clear and fascinating background.
The war with Japan in SE Asia was, at the same time, the death rattle of Britian's colonial rule there.
Jack Laschenski
How Japan took all of Asia away from the British!
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Christopher Alan Bayly was a British historian specializing in British Imperial, Indian, and global history. A graduate of the University of Oxford, he was currently the Vere Harmsworth Professor of Imperial and Naval History at the University of Cambridge. He was knighted in 2007 for achievements as a historian.
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