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The Burma Road: The Epic Story of the China-Burma-India Theater in World War II

3.88  ·  Rating details ·  283 Ratings  ·  37 Reviews
As the Imperial Japanese Army swept across China and South Asia at World War II's outset, closing all of China's seaports, more than 200,000 Chinese laborers embarked on a seemingly impossible task: to cut a 700-mile overland route -- the Burma Road -- from the southwest Chinese city of Kunming to Lashio, Burma. But when Burma fell in 1942, the Burma Road was severed. As t ...more
Paperback, 400 pages
Published September 7th 2004 by Harper Perennial (first published 2003)
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Colin .d
Apr 04, 2015 rated it really liked it
This book was great!! I thought it was good because we are studying WW2 in class. The author describes a very detailed war and people that were very important to the Allies success. I suggest that anyone with great car for the stories of war and battle to read this book. With little to no knowledge on WW2 you will still enjoy this great descriptive book.
Michael
Nov 19, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I am currently reading books about obscure historical subjects to learn about things which are not common knowledge. "Burma Road" by Donovan Webster fits the bill. Of all the books written about the second world war, there is probably no subject covered less than the China-Burma-India Theater. It was a true backwater of the war, a place where officers of genius who didn't fit in elsewhere found a home; officers like Joseph Stillwell and Orde Wingate. It was also a place where there was never eno ...more
D. Ennis
Jul 24, 2011 rated it really liked it
I agree with lots of reviewers that point out that the book has little to do with the actual Burma Road. I guess you can take away points for that. However, that being said, it is a great book about the much ignored CBI theater of WWII. A great overview for someone who isn't familiar with the CBI. Enough detail without getting bogged down. Webster does a great job with the larger than life characters fighting for the Allied win.
James R.
Nov 13, 2013 rated it liked it
When I was a kid 10 or 11 years old, the "Flying Tigers" were my and my buddies heros. I believed they were planes from the US Army Air Corps. Well I found out that they were American Volunteers from the US Army, Navy and Marines and was the creation of Claire L. Chennault, a retired U.S. Army Air Corps officer who had worked in China as military aviation advisor to Chiang Kai-shek in the early months of the Sino-Japanese War. So basically they were "Mercenaries"!
Katherine Hebert
Mar 12, 2015 rated it really liked it
So sorry it took so long to read this riveting book about the China-Burma-India war theater in WW II. Intricate and interesting details about the people who organized the fight against Japan---some familiar and my new hero---Vinegar Joe Stilwell---and the actual horrific battles and jungle conditions themselves.
Darlis
Nov 20, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed this one. I learned so much about General Stillwell and about the Burma campaign of WWII. I even learned about Japan's campaign into India, which I had never heard of. Lots of stuff in this one was incredibly interesting.
Doug
May 08, 2010 rated it really liked it
After living in Myanmar, this was great reading. I know much of the geography and enjoyed the way the story was told.
Bett
Apr 13, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: anyone interested in WWII.
Recommended to Bett by: Co'worker whose father served in Burma.
Very detailed, yet entertaining tale of the CBI theatre, learn the truth about the bridge on the River Kwai and Merrill's Marauders. I like maps, annd this could have used a few more for my taste.
Katehart82
Jan 06, 2009 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
so far extremely interesting...my grandfather flew the hump and above the Burma Road so I wanted to know more about it.
Tim
Mar 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
My late father, John A. McNeil, was in the CBI Theater during WWII - he would have loved this book - I thoroughly enjoyed it!
Walter Mcwilliams
May 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
A superb narrative on perhaps the most brutal theater of WWII. I highly recommend this read!
Ione Ishii
Nov 16, 2017 rated it liked it
I was hoping for details on how the road in Burma was constructed who engineered? where did the materials come from? who financed? - similar to the books I read about the Panama Canal and the Brooklyn Bridge. However, this was 95% about the WWII battles and tactics. Not a bad read, but not the scope of civil engineering I was hoping. What was horrifying for me was the number of Japanese who died in this theater. Little or zero was mentioned about the deaths of the civilians who died by cross fir ...more
Patricia
Aug 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Living in Asia focuses my reading interests and it was a recent visit to 'Vinegar Joe' Stilwell's former residence/office in Chungking, China two months ago, that was the impetus behind my wanting to put all the diverse bits of information I have acquired over the years of the CBI (the China-Burma-India Theatre in WWII) into a comprehensible whole. You know how it is--you've read books on Mao, on Chiang Kai-shek, on Chennault's Flying Tigers, on the Sino-Japanese War, and even Barbara Tuchman's ...more
David
Feb 11, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Anyone interested in the subject.
Shelves: abandoned
Read some of this seeking background on the CBI because I was reading Stilwell's diary and wanted some context. This book was one of three I checked out for that purpose. It's both a history and a memoir of the author's quest to travel the Ledo Road (Stilwell Road) and Burma Road. This is written in a colorful and interesting manner. Especially useful to me was the account of what Stilwell did in the last few months of his life after being recalled from the CBI. That info was not in any of the o ...more
Dad
Dec 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing
I was reading this in early December and have made a push to finish it so I could get on with Christmas tasks and a priesthood lesson. I enjoyed this book. I haven't read a war book for some time.
This is like a biography of Joseph Stillwell, who ended up a four star general. He was amazing how he handled all the problems in this theater of World War II and all his positions he held simultaneously.
It illustrated the cruelty of the Japanese and their dedication as soldiers.
The Americans in Bur
...more
Martin
Jul 03, 2016 rated it liked it
This is a fun light read. Its in the typically breathless style of the American journalist who has discovered history. As such it can be painful to read, but it does cover a lot of ground in a lesser know area of WWII. The focus is on the Asian Land war with Japan, where the British Empire and the USA tried to fight the Japanese, while hoping to get China to be an effective Ally, and keep it in the war. We see all the players, although the choice to spend so much time covering Stilwell, when Tuc ...more
Stefan
Aug 18, 2008 rated it really liked it
The Burma Road is an extremely well written book that is narrated in a highly readable and fascinating way. Donovan Webster has an amazing way of explaining the strategic policy and tactical planning used by the American, British, and Chinese political and military leaders in Burma and China. Webster's easily weaves quotes from eye witnesses, excerpts from official documents, and his own conclusions into an important book that focuses on the South Asia campaign during the Second World War. The a ...more
Jack Harding
Aug 02, 2015 rated it it was amazing
The Burma Road: The Epic Story of the China-Burma -India Theater in World War Two is a gateway book into a rarely talked about corner of World War Two, The China- Burma- India Theater. The book focuses mainly on General Joseph Stilwell and his relationships with others in command in the CBI theater. Webster fills the book with facts, but only so much about certain subjects (as the core of the book is devoted to Stilwell), the book is great as an intro to the CBI theater, which is rarely talked a ...more
Ardita
Oct 30, 2009 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A well-written book on the forgotten theatre of World War II: The China-Burma-India (CBI) theatre, where forgotten soldiers and generals of the Allied Forces defend China using India as a springboard to secure access to Japan; and Burma seemed to get stuck in the middle..

The book is incomparable to "Band of Brothers" TV series. The war scenes were horrifying, the hurdles and challenges went beyond "mission impossible". Although the book focused on the epic fightings of "Merrill's Marauders", "Wi
...more
Duncan
Jan 19, 2015 rated it really liked it
Well-told tale about an undercovered WWII story, the fight to push Japan out of Burma and keep China in the war. Vivid on the challenges of fighting in Burma's inhospitable terrain (mountains, tigers, leeches, no drinkable water, etc.), and on the savagery of the fighting; darkly humorous in places (the fiercely fought battle over a tennis court; the Allied POWs conscripted into forced railroad-building labor who, when quizzed about their pre-war occupations, responded "beer taster," "brothel in ...more
Erin
Jun 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: war
Very informative and a compelling read even for someone who doesn't typically read military history. Personally, I was looking for info on the 7th Bombardment Group and their bombing runs over Burma in 1943. I didn't find that here (although there was some great detail about other air actions, including the Flying Tigers and the supply runs over the Hump). Instead, I learned a lot about the Burma Road, the forced building of railroads and bridges by POWs, and General Stilwell's actions in Burma. ...more
Sarah Crawford
Jan 15, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Note the addition to the title. This is not just about the Burma Road itself, but includes information on the war in China, Burma and India. There are a number of maps and photos in the book. There's also a lot of biographical material on Stilwell and Chennault.

The road was a very bloody affair. “...Japanese snipers and artillery shells (and disease and accidents) would kill more than one American soldier for each of the road's eleven hundred miles.” The book also does talk about the movie The
...more
Gina
Aug 30, 2011 rated it liked it
I found this book dull and riveting by turns. Sometimes I just couldn't get through the details about certain battles and strategy without falling asleep, but other times, the writing about other battles was just completely gripping. It's not something I'd recommend for a casual read, but if you have an interest in WWII, or, like me, if you have a family member who fought in CBI, it's worth your time. Overall, Webster wrote a very readable account of the theater, though my traveler's heart wishe ...more
Bruinrefugee
I'm torn on this one. It covers an area and time that deserves some ink, but I think it tries to do too many different things at the same time: overview, hints of a travelogue (that don't develop), jumps back and forth in time, and surprisingly little focus on the road itself. It's like a thesis that was cut for space. That said, it's also a fairly straight-forward read, which made it fairly enjoyable. A decent introduction.
Kiran Majeti
Mar 06, 2014 rated it liked it
The Burma Road was really interesting because you often hear about all of the other World War Two fronts, but most people don't even know where burma is or that we even fought there. The book was supposed to be about the road connecting japanese-held china to allied india. However, it really just followed the life of Joseph Stilwell, the general. Since the book is nonfiction, there was no theme. Out of 10 I would give it a seven.
David
Feb 03, 2014 rated it really liked it
Very good book about one of the least known areas of operation in World War II. The author peppers the story with several first person accounts from both sides. My main complaint is that the author is a National Geographic writer and not a military historian, so he gets several points wrong in descriptions (eg. battalions, regiments, divisions).
Justin
May 31, 2012 rated it it was ok
The book is a badly dated portrayal of the CBI theatre for the most part. It is so laughably pro-Stilwell, something that is no longer accepted in the face of new evidence, that one could be mistaken for thinking Stilwell himself wrote it.
Pete
Apr 09, 2014 rated it really liked it
I had never read anything on the battle between the Allies and the Japanese in Burma, and found the details of this part the war compelling. Anyone interested in the Pacific Theater in WWII will enjoy this book.
Bob
Jan 29, 2008 rated it liked it
This is the story of the China-Burma-India operations during WWII.
Mark Cooper
Mar 07, 2008 rated it liked it
Shelves: mark_pre-su07
[Audio] Enjoyable, detailed history of this important part of the Asian theater of WWII.
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