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Defeat Into Victory (Pan Grand Strategy Series)

4.31  ·  Rating details ·  379 Ratings  ·  31 Reviews
These memoirs rank with those of Ulysses S. Grant as one of the few honest testaments [of war].--The Readers Companion to Military History
Paperback, 592 pages
Published August 13th 1999 by Pan Books (first published 1956)
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(showing 1-30)
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Crispin Burke
Jan 01, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bar none--The best book on military leadership ever written.
This book is too good to review well in the space of an essay or a paragraph. Properly appreciating and analyzing it would require a several weeks of classroom discussion. I have a great inhibition against marking or defacing books in any fashion, but with this book I have a great desire to take a highlighter and on page after page highlight the great wisdom and perspicacity displayed in this work.

It is without a doubt the finest military memoire I have ever read. I do not think that I can give
James Kemp
Nov 21, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to James by: Callum Lane
A friend sent me a copy of Field Marshal Bill Slim’s Defeat Into Victory. It has always been on my list of books I’d like to read, but somehow I’d never quite got round to acquiring a copy. The version I have is a reading copy of the original edition, with fold out maps all through it.

The reading style is very engaging and easy to read, especially if you have the space to fold out the map at the end of the chapter so that you can follow all the places when they appear in the narrative. It was th
Kris McCracken
Nov 29, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Bill Slim, or – to give him his proper title – Field Marshal William Joseph Slim, 1st Viscount Slim, KG, GCB, GCMG, GCVO, GBE, DSO, MC, KStJ, has been described by some as perhaps the greatest commander of the twentieth century. Defeat into Victory is his account of the retaking of Burma by Allied forces during the Second World War first published in 1956. Slim was the commander of the British 14th Army that, in concert with American and Chinese forces, defeated the Imperial Japanese Army during ...more
David Wyatt
Sep 15, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
To many William Slim was possibly the finest British (and possibly Allied) General to serve during the Second World War. It is not readily known that the victor of Imphal was also a novelist between wars so this is one of the rarest of items, a memoir written by a general who can actually write! As memoirs go Slim lays out clearly how the war with Japan went and what it to took to turn a beaten army into a winner. Slim gives credit to all, and his portrait of Vinegar Joe Stilwell is essential. I ...more
May 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history-military
Viscount Slim's memoir of his campaign in Burma deserves all the praise it has received over the years. Slim is a refreshingly blunt writer, always quick to praise superiors, subordinates, and peers while taking responsibility for his own mistakes. In fact, one of the most important lessons of Defeat into Victory is that EVERY military commander makes mistakes--lots of them. Not only does Slim own up to them, he is willing to acknowledge that some of them cost the lives of his soldiers. This is ...more
Michael Burnam-Fink
May 13, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history, war, 2013
I've read a fair number of general's memoirs, and Slim's is one of the most humanistic and readable. Transferred to Burma in 1942, Slim arrived to an army in administrative disarray and an overwhelming Japanese assault that turned into a near-rout. Through perseverance and energy, Slim managed to hold the line in India, rebuild his army, learn how to fight the Japanese, and then counter-attack. Few other Allied generals of the war experienced such immense swings in fortune.

The best parts of the
Prem Rao
Jan 15, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent book by a great leader of men. Field Marshal William Slim was one of the most understated of the Allied commanders during the Second World War. Not surprisingly he was assigned command of the 14th Army which came to be called "The Forgotten Army." This book by the general himself speaks of the arduous campaigns the Allies faced in Burma and India, facing a foe they had never come across before, the Japanese whose commitment to their goals was legendary. Slim's book also brings out h ...more
Jun 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An excellent memoir from a humble man who gives equal detail to his triumphs as he does his defeats, coupled with a high level of respect for the men (of numerous nationalities) who fought and died under his command.
Darren Duke
Jul 31, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: leadership, war, favorites
As our defense budgets shrink, we are once again having to do less with less. For those who have an eye to see, this challenge can provide an opportunity to shine as a strategist. William Slim's account of how he not only held but defeated the Japanese in Burma is a source of inspiration for the "economy of force" operator. Slim's "slim pickins" of the British imperial forces would have given most soldiers an excuse for their failure. Slim, however, was bent on not only making the most of these ...more
Ian Fleischmann
Nov 08, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
If you need a case study for some component of warfare, you can probably find it in Slim. The final chapter alone is worth the read. His focus on initiative and morale is particularly interesting. Even to the end he believes he should have fought differently in the 1942 retreat - I'm not sure how that would have been possible given his acknowledgment that the Japanese preparations were overwhelming. Certainly a deviation from the Japanese-anticipated withdrawal would have given the commanders pa ...more
Sep 03, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This classic military history is Slim's personal account of the campaign uring WW2 in Burma - the so called forgotten army.
He makes some very insightful observations about leadership, logistics and the overwhelming resilience and resourceflness of the soldier - also highlighting how few of his troops were actually British as opposed to colonial.
It was slightly strang trying to follow the tactics of an Army - dealing constantly in Brigades, Divisions and Corps. Indeed there are only very few ref
Nishant Pappireddi
This was a very detailed and informative book about the Burma campaign, and how the British Empire, American, and Chinese forces learned to defeat the Japanese with a very slender supply line.
Don Heiman
Jul 11, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
British General Field Marshall Slim commanded the Burma WW2 campaign. The campaign began in February 1942 and ended in September 1945. Many military historians believe that the lessons learned in the Burma jungles defined the principles of modern warfare for the "nuclear age." General Slim was an outstanding commander who believed that war is an art form anchored in principles of strategy, cross cultural management, moral courage, and alignment to the monsoon forces of nature. Slim is an excelle ...more
Jun 25, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: history
Slim's account of the war in Burma; starts with the defeat of Burcorps, the setbacks in the Arakan, and then the successful defence in the joint battles of Imphal and Kohima, the victories of Mandalay and Meiktila and the final reconquest of Burma. In the interwar period Slim successfully wrote fiction under the name of Anthony Mills and his style is easy and accomplished.

Slim's account of his meeting with Aung San, father of Aung San Suu Kyi resonates; Slim describes him as a patriot who wante
Alan Bolton
Feb 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: my-favourites
If you read any book about WW2 (and I've read lots), this is one book you should read.

I find it inspirational for life in general, because it has so many lessons in it about how to turn around a bad situation and ultimately triumph.

Its a very well written story by the man in charge of the English army that was at first completely annihilated by the Japanese, and how he eventually learned how to beat them, through many very hard costly lessons, and thus turned the tables over four long years of
Tom Hall
Mar 11, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is rare to read a memoir by a senior commander (or executive) and encounter the phrase "I was wrong." It appears frequently in this well written, thoughtful and remarkably modest account of WWII in Burma.

The Burma front is little known, and often dismissed as a sideshow. Yet Slim simultaneously tied up tens of thousands of Japanese soldiers who might otherwise have been deployed to the main Pacific theater and virtually invented modern all-arms warfare.

"Required reading" for all students of
Suresh Nair
May 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The title of the book explains the essence of the book. It was an almost defeat that got converted to victory through a mix of innovation, doggedness, endurance and courage. It was no easy task for the battleground was the jungles, swamps, hills and slushy ground. The forces under Slim beat back a stubborn enemy (Japanese) with tremendous losses to both sides. The author though in command of the forces had an intimate knowledge what the ordinary soldier was going through and in many ways was a s ...more
Dec 18, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Excellent recounting of the war in Burma (now Myanmar) by a leading general on the ground. Perhaps the most self effacing book written by a war leader I have read, conveying both successes in strategy and tactics and failures along the way. Having visited Mayanmar and travelled on the Irrawaddy river and visited a number of places cited in the book I thoroughly enjoyed it. And yet, very hard to see the peaceful Buddhist population today in the context of war, but that's what war brings.
Nov 25, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, history, 2011
This is an excellent book, written by a General who is considered by many to be the finest British field commander of WWII. General Slim is self effacing and honest in his description of a often overlooked campaign. I highly recommend this book to anyone interested in World War II, leadership, and an amazing story of victory over an enemy who gave no quarter on a terrain that was unforgiving.
Jan 14, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
An easy read that is instructive and enjoyable. Anytime a General starts a sentence with "My first mistake was..." it's worth reading. Good book to help understand the difficulties of coalition, jungle, joint, and combined arms operations or issues of morale and discipline in an Army. Also very instructive in the execution of mission command. I wish I had read it earlier.
Kent Beck
Aug 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Best military history I've read in many years. Slim is honest, forthright, and thoughtful. He doesn't shy from controversy, such as his dismissal of most "elite" units. My one quibble is that he downplays his command disagreements in the Arakan offensive. There are lessons here for leaders of all kinds, from the language he uses in discussing subordinates to his clear and balanced orders.
Sep 08, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Very readable autobiography in which Gen. Slim details the British being chased out of Burma by the Japanese Army in 1942, and the reconquest in 1944-45. Refreshing in how honest Slim was in admitting his mistakes and the consequences of the decisions he made, both good and bad. One of the least self-serving autobiographies I have read.
Dec 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A magnificent account of war, leadership, and one of the most remarkable (and sadly overlooked) fighting formations in history. Slim's memoir is readable and his famed humility emanates from each page. A must read for military historians and anyone studying leadership.
Bryan Batson
Sep 28, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Great book on the thoughts of a military commander deeply involved in operational art. Amazing that despite so many setbacks he was able to continue to promote and eventually overcome all f his early setbacks.
Jerry Acton
Fantastic book on leadership.
Jan 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The finest book on army level leadership there is. Can't rate it highly enough.
Oct 23, 2007 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Bill Slim was the officer Monty wanted to be but coudn't: solid tactically; well liked by his troops; unafraid.
Feb 23, 2013 added it
i need to read it
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“The only equipment my army had in full supply was, as ever, brains, hardihood, and courage.” 0 likes
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