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The War of the Running Dogs: How Malaya Defeated the Communist Guerrillas 1948-1960
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The War of the Running Dogs: How Malaya Defeated the Communist Guerrillas 1948-1960

4.04  ·  Rating details ·  248 ratings  ·  29 reviews
Only three short years after the end of the Japanese occupation, war came again to Malaya. The Chinese-backed guerrillas called it the War of the Running Dogs—their contemptuous term for those in Malaya who remained loyal to the British. The British Government referred to this bloody and costly struggle as the "Malayan Emergency." Yet it was a war that lasted 12 years and ...more
Paperback, 336 pages
Published April 1st 2007 by Cassell (first published 1971)
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4.04  · 
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 ·  248 ratings  ·  29 reviews

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Mar 02, 2015 rated it really liked it
Two pages into this book, I was already cringing. Barber describes 1948 Malaya as "a contented paradise in which men of many skins and creeds lived in harmony" -- this a land that had been devastated by Japanese occupation during World War II, was back under colonial rule by Great Britain, and whose modest economy was largely driven by the interests of British plantations. Even if we are to put on our Cold War blinders, it's impossible to ignore the great disparities in both fortune and power (b ...more
The story of how the British and Malayans fought, and won, Asia's first guerrilla war against communist insurgents.

While the story lacks much by way of first person recollections, and is written in a way likely to make the PC reader combust, I still found it very readable, and the author doesn't shy away from the absurdities of the situation - be it the difficulties of translation or the fact that in broad terms both sides fought for the same outcome.

In all, a story of the best of the end of Em
Feb 28, 2015 rated it did not like it
A very journalistic account of the Malayan Emergency written by a novelist. It was written in 1971 and is very much a book of its times, with a tone which is heavily sympathetic to the British Empire and extremely shallow in its understanding of the Communist movement in Malaya. Making much the same mistake as some Americans were in the process of doing in Vietnam at the time, the author seems to regard the Communist movement as being entirely directed by outside provocateurs. The book also adop ...more
Hilmi Isa
Feb 09, 2011 rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: Peminat sejarah dan ketenteraan
Shelves: sejarah-malaysia
Buku ini merupakan salah sebuah buku terawal yang dihasilkan yang menyentuh mengenai 'Emergency'(dikenali di dalam bahasa Melayu sebagai Darurat) iaitu pemberontakan bersenjata komunis di Malaysia (Malaya ketika itu) pada tahun 1948-1960. Buku ini asalnya ditulis pada tahun 1971. Namun begitu,kandungan yang terdapat di dalamnya masih lagi relevan dan bermaklumat. Oleh itu,adalah sesuatu yang tidak menghairankan sekiranya buku tulisan Noel Barber ini masih dirujuk oleh ramai sarjana dan penulis m ...more
Aug 09, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: colonial, war
The long drawn out campaign against the Communist insurgency in Malaya is not well known, being overshadowed by the conflict in Vietnam that rose in intensity as this one petered out at the end of the 1950s. Though it was on a smaller scale and of lower intensity, the backdrop was just as intriguing. A campaign of terror was waged by the mainly Chinese communist guerrillas against the public and the British colonial rulers from deep within their impenetrable jungle hideouts. These hardcore soldi ...more
Sivasothi N.
Apr 19, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Noel Barber was a journalist who wrote novels and this book profits from both of those backgrounds. He paints a vivid picture of the insurgency from 1948-1960, called the Malayan Emergency. While this is not the last book to read about the topic, it certainly is an engaging way to begin, and covers many of the critical aspects.

I first read this in my teens, and can see how it provided a background to various aspects about that period, into which further reading would fill out. It is very easy r
Steve Woods
Oct 08, 2013 rated it liked it
Shelves: other-wars
I knew almost nothing about the Malayan Emergency before I read this book. Barber is a journalist and he writes for the masses so it's an easy read. It is not however an authoritative history. Focused almost totally on the main players on the British side it does give the flavour of the struggle if not the nitty gritty as experienced by troops on the ground. One thing that did come out of the book was the fact that the British prevailed largely because of leadership, notwithstanding the particul ...more
Sep 09, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
In 1951, my late father, a doctor in the British army was posted to Singapore and eventually took command of the British Military Hospital. I would have been about 8 years old at the time. Two things always puzzled me: what was the bar on his General Service Medal titled "Malay" all about and when we went on a period of R&R, why did we go to the Cameron Highlands in an armed convoy? Recently, I digitised all my father's 8mm black and white cine film and found his record of out stay in the Fa ...more
Doug Peterson
Feb 09, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Excellent historic telling of the Malayan Emergency, enjoyable read, with superb accounting of the challenges in countering the communist insurgency in Malaya (later became Malaysia).
- the "CT," or "Communist Terrorists," as they were known, were nearly all ethnic Chinese, although they did attempt to brand themselves as multi-ethnic. There are many parallels in today's political parties, and Malaysia's continuing challenge of ethnic/religious relations.
- story covers both sides well, introduces
Hubert Han
Jun 10, 2017 rated it really liked it
This read more like a thriller, exposing its central flaw of almost completely omitting the contemporaneous political context and diplomatic manouevres which were similarly crucial to 'winning the peace'.

That being said, it is a primer into the difficulty of counter-insurgency, where overwhelming physical might must be supplemented by pervasive intelligence, individual perseverance and loyalty, and sustained political will. Along with the Northern Irish conflict, the British/Malayan response to
Alex Laycock
Feb 16, 2015 rated it it was amazing
my Dad was in the Parachute Regiment and gained a MC when fighting in this war,he never talked about it...we never asked...intrigued I read this book,found on his bookshelf,AMAZING read,it was easily explained engaging and I now regard my father with great admiration,maybe understand him a little more,he died in 2010,a fascinating book about a war we rarely talk about READ!
Feb 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Really enjoyed this book. It transformed my beliefs of this war. Loved the reason for it being declared an emergency and not a war. Highly factual and useful for anyone who knows Malaysia. Good levels of intensity, balenced between war conflict, politics /administration and stealth/anti-terrorism strategy.
Sergei Smoliakov
Great book.

An excellent book that shows who and what communism really is and how to properly fight a communist or any other terrorist insurrection. Recommend for anyone who is interested in the Cold War, Communism and the struggle against communism. From all political ideologies, Communism is the worst one.
Christopher Rex
Aug 05, 2010 rated it it was ok
I should've checked the publication date (1977). It's simply not overly readable, which may have a lot to do w/ the fact that is was published 30 years ago. The story is good one and there is a lot of relevance to how counter-insurgency activity can succeed (it all comes down to "hearts and minds"). It also sheds light on why the US later failed in Vietnam and why we will fail Afghanistan, but it's just not a great "readable" book. The parts about espionage and psychological-warfare are very int ...more
Johnny B. Rempit
Mar 14, 2010 rated it really liked it
The Malayan Emergency is a very touchy subject. The repercussions arising from this conflict can still be felt by Malaysian citizens today. The infamous Internal Security Act was instituted during this period. So was compulsory identity registration. This book talks about those things as well as the way in which the war/conflict was handled by the British (and subsequently by the Malayans themselves). It charts out the background of the war/conflict, the violent birth of the bloody Communist ins ...more
Jul 29, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: insurgency buffs
Recommended to David by: travel guide Footprint Malaysia
Shelves: read-history
Ever wonder if it's possible for a Western power to shut down a native insurgency with totalitarian aspirations? Read about one that did! The British, after a long struggle, thwarted a violent Chinese communist movement which was aspiring for control of the country we now know as Malaysia. If you want to know something about counter-insurgency but modern books on this topic turn you off, this one, written more than 25 years ago, is for you. This book is readable for serious history, but not ligh ...more
This is a terrific book covering the Malayan Emergency, the people, politics and strategies. The strategies were fascinating given the US's lack of success in dealing with guerrilla wars from Vietnam to today. The British come out of this book looking like roses.

Interesting how the book and strategies focused on the civilians (Government + Police) to lead the fight with the military providing a backing role.

I also thought it was interesting that it was called an Emergency and not a War for insur
Jim Thornton
Sep 30, 2011 rated it liked it
A fairly old book this and it showed stylistically, but was nevertheless a fascinating read. The Malayan 'emergency' is largely undiscussed and unknown to most people today. However, it was a bit of a precursor for an even nastier war in Vietnam and showed a different approach to handling it. An in depth look at some of the personalities and tactics of the war and worth a read.

I only read one part of this book, Phase One The Communist Offensive 1948-51. Compared to the other texts I was required to read on this topic I founnd this one the best written, most engrossing and most enjoyable to read. Highly informative the long excerpt made the rest of the book look quite promising.
This is a very interesting account of the 'Emergency', admirable in many ways but for me is just slightly spoilt by passages of narrative that seem more 'journalistic' than 'historical'. Imperfect but far from boring.
Sue Maycock
Feb 06, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Excellent account of what happened during this troublesome time. Having lived in Malaysia as a child during the latter part of the time this book covers and being aware of the Communist Terrorist activity when I was there, it filled in the detail that I was too young to appreciate at the time.
Dec 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An exceptional account of the the Malaya campaign, this book was hard to put down. History is always easier to engage with if written from personal perspectives and Noel Barber has gone to great lengths to bring the characters involved to life and treated them with great sympathy.
Graeme Laird
Jun 05, 2014 rated it really liked it
A very good book on the Malayan Emergency and how it was won. This is a "must read" for someone moving to Malaysia.
Vanessa Yeo
Dec 27, 2016 rated it it was amazing
An epic non-fiction historical tale told in such a gripping manner. Absolutely reader-worthy, I highly recommend this, especially if you're a Malaysian.
Sep 19, 2012 rated it liked it
An easy read and decent overview, it provides a good introduction to the Malayan Emergency.
May 06, 2011 rated it really liked it
a good insight to communism in Malaya and malayanization!
Mike Lord
Jan 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Fantastic, as I actually lived there at the time.
Dec 05, 2010 rated it really liked it
Quite an interesting book. Read it for research but actually enjoyed it.
Rob Mcke
rated it liked it
May 24, 2013
Malik Wajahat
rated it it was amazing
Mar 03, 2017
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Noel Barber was a British novelist and journalist. Many of his novels, considered exotic romances, as well as his works of 20th century history, are based on his first-hand experiences as leading foreign correspondent for the Daily Mail.

Most notably he reported from Morocco, where he was stabbed five times. In October 1956, Barber survived a gun shot wound to the head by a Soviet sentry in Hungar