at the University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa

WWII in Southeast Asia


Forgotten Armies: Britain’s Asian Empire & the War with Japan
Christopher Alan Bayly & Tim Harper

The vast crescent of British-ruled territories from India down to Singapore appeared in the early stages of the Second World War a massive asset in the war with Germany, providing huge quantities of soldiers and raw materials and key part of an impregnable global network denied to the Nazis. Within a few weeks in 1941-2 a Japanese invasion had destroyed all this, almost effortlessly taking the ‘impregnable fortress’ of Singapore with its 80,000 strong garrison, and sweeping through South and Southeast Asia to the frontier of India itself. This revolutionary, absolutely gripping book brings to life the entire experience of South and Southeast Asia in this extraordinary period, telling the story from an Indian, Burmese, Chinese or Malay perspective as much as from that of the British or Japanese. Effectively it is the story of the birth of modern South and Southeast Asia and the hopes and fears of the dozens of ‘forgotten armies’ marching through the jungle battlefields, so many dying for causes swept away by the reality that emerged in 1945. Even as the British successfully fought back in the bloodiest battles in South and Southeast Asia’s history, there was no going back to colonial rule.

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Forgotten Wars: Freedom and Revolution in Southeast Asia
Christopher Bayly & Tim Harper

Forgotten Wars, a sequel to the authors’ acclaimed Forgotten Armies, is a panoramic account of the bitter wars of the end of empire, seen not only through the eyes of the fighters, but also through the personal stories of ordinary people: the poor and bewildered caught up in India’s Hindu-Muslim massacres; the peasant farmers ravaged by warfare between British forces and revolutionaries in Malaya; the Burmese minorities devastated by separatist revolt. Throughout, we are given a stunning portrait of societies poised between the hope of independence and the fear of strife. Forgotten Wars vividly brings to life the inescapable conflicts and manifold dramas that shaped today’s Asia. Christopher Bayly and Tim Harper show how World War II never really ended in these ravaged Asian lands but instead continued in bloody civil wars, anti-colonial insurrections, and inter-communal massacres. These years became the most formative in modern Asian history, as Western imperialism vied with nascent nationalist and communist revolutionaries for political control.

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Tensions Of Empire: Japan & Southeast Asia in the Colonial & Postcolonial World
Ken’ichi Goto (Author) and Paul H. Kratoska (Editor)

Beginning with the closing decade of European colonial rule in Southeast Asia and covering the wartime Japanese empire and its postwar disintegration, Tensions of Empire focuses on the Japanese in Southeast Asia, Indonesians in Japan, and the legacy of the war in Southeast Asia. It also examines Japanese perceptions of Southeast Asia and the lingering ambivalence toward Japanese involvement in Asia and toward the war in particular. Drawing on extensive multilingual archival research and interviews, Ken’ichi Goto has produced a factually rich and balanced view of this region’s historical events of the last century. Tensions of Empire features detailed discussions of Portuguese Timor in the 1930s and 1940s, the decolonization of Malaya, and twentieth-century Indonesia. This extended inquiry yields a unique view of the complicated network within and beyond the colonial and imperial relationships between a one-time nonwestern colonial power and an entire region. Of great interest to students of Japan-Southeast Asia relations and to specialists in the modern history of both Southeast Asia and Japan, Professor Goto’s Tensions of Empire is a fascinating account of Japan’s recent past from the inside.

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Burma: The Longest War
Louis Allen

Charting the whole Burma war, this book flows like a novel from the high command to the sharp end setting out a myriad of facts and considerations in a clear and coherent narrative. Ranging far beyond pure military history the story is multi-layered, combining objective analysis with a sensitive account of human reaction in the face of bitter, cruel warfare, disease and an inhospitable terrain. Military events are painstakingly detailed, and set in their political and cultural context. Equal attention is paid to both sides of the conflict and the insights made into Japanese plans and responses make the book uniquely informative, exciting and moving. ‘If one had to select one book about the Burma War, this fine work is the best’ Dekho, magazine of the Burma Star Association ‘There will be few more thorough chronicles of World War Two’s most dreaded front than Louis Allen’s Burma: The Longest War” The Listener

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