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Singapore Burning: Heroism and Surrender in World War II

by (Sharpe Books)

(52 reviews)

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'the definitive book on this extraordinary drama' Daily Telegraph

In 1927, its sixtieth anniversary as a Crown colony, Singapore was thriving.

The Jazz age roared on, rubber prices soared, people worked as hard as was considered healthy in tropical climes and many, perhaps, played rather harder than they should have done.

But then, not twenty years later, in 1942 'The worst disaster and largest capitulation in British history,' according to Winston Churchill, took place on the island.

Churchill's description of the fall of Singapore in 1942, which led to over 100,000 British, Australian and Indian troops being captured by the Japanese, was no wartime exaggeration.

With new material from British, Australian, Indian and Japanese sources, Colin Smith has woven together the full and terrifying story of Singapore's fall and its aftermath.

Alongside cowardice and incompetence he uncovers acts of true heroism, alongside treachery heart-rending loyalty.

And he finds compassion as well as brutality from the bravest and most capricious enemy Britain has ever faced.

'An epic narrative. Smith succeeds brilliantly in weaving hundred of individual stories into a coherent whole.' Sunday Times

'Smith knows how to drive the story along. And what a story it is. A great hunk of a book, rich in personal accounts and unpublished material. I read it at one sitting.' Daily Telegraph

'Magisterial, tremendous. Smith knows how it feels to be a soldier and his story is unforgettably told.' Neal Ascherson Observer

'An excellent, meticulous account... filled with exceptionally interesting facts.' Independent

'A meticulous account of the Japanese advance on Singapore... provides an excellent opportunity to revisit hard questions.' Sydney Morning Herald

'All the big themes are there: the hubris of the Allies and the Japanese, as well as their courage; the pathos of the victims. Smith deftly describes the complacent world of the rubber barons. It is beautifully told, shrewd and fair in its judgements and character assessments and on occasions wryly funny.' Daily Telegraph

'As Smith's new book demonstrates, the defeat was less due to acts of sensational stupidity than a more piecemeal ineptitude. The British lost this corner of their empire much as they had acquired it -- through bluff and bluster.' Independent on Sunday

'The full extent of 100,000 British, Australian and Indian troops falling into Japanese hands is well documented.' Sunday Tasmanian

'A comprehensive and engrossing narrative.' Herald Sun

'Smith has a sharp eye for the telling anecdote, and sets his scenes and introduces his characters with care. His prose is engaging. Even those incidents well known to Australians such as the ambushing of the tanks at Bakri or the shooting of the nurses on Bangka Island and the escape of Sister Vivian Bullwinkel are fresh in the telling.' Book Talk, Australian Broadcasting Corporation

Colin Smith, an award-winning journalist, covered many conflicts for the 'Observer', including the 1975 fall of Saigon, which, he says, had its rough moments but nothing like the horrors that struck Singapore in 1941. His books include 'Spies of Jerusalem', 'Collateral Damage' and 'Let Us Do Evil'.

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Additional Info

  • Publication Date: March 14, 2018
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • Lending: Enabled
  • Print Length: 656 Pages
  • File Size: 2,342 KB

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