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The Road Past Mandalay by John Masters
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The Road Past Mandalay (1961)

by John Masters

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I have never read any military history books that dealt with the minutiae of forming an attack, moving troops, dealing with enemy surprises, etc. Stuff like that would bore me to tears. This book is a revelation because with clear, concise writing, Masters draws you in gradually so you really care what happens to him and his Gurkhas. This is the second part of his three part autobiography, and deals with his wartime experiences in Iraq, Iran and Burma. It does not gloss over difficult subjects like friendly fire, lack of support from the supply lines or cowardice in the regiment. He gives his opinions of the leaders in the Burma campaign and why he thinks some were more use than others. ( )
  kerry1897 | Aug 21, 2014 |
Masters was a professional soldier of the Indian Army until 1947 and has novels such as Bohawni Junction to his credit. His three Memoir volumes are good reading and this volume (#2) deals with his time in the XIV Army on the Burma front. He was a Chindit and knew a great many people due to his professional connections. As a popular writer of fiction, he doesn't skimp on the emotional side of the war. A must read for a collector of British stuff about WWII. Read it three times. ( )
  DinadansFriend | Sep 9, 2013 |
In this follow on to Bugles and a Tiger John Masters puts his professional skills to the test in the crucible of war. The short first part takes Masters and his beloved 2/4th Ghurkas to Iraq and Syria. After that forgotten campaign he is sent back to India on a staff course covered by the second part of this memoir. The final and harrowing part finds him preparing a Chindit column to land behind Japanese lines in Burma, and to eventually lead it in combat. After 100 days behind lines only 119 men were fit to continue, 700 had been killed, and over 2000 declared medically unfit and had to be evacuated. His comment on command, leadership and his superiors make enlightening reading. His views on the suitability of both Wingate and Stillwell for high command are illuminating as being from one who experienced it at the sharp end.
After an all too brief leave he is called back to a senior staff position under a 'difficult' general and the final drive to Mandalay and peace. He finds out about peace almost by accident whilst walking in the Himalayas with his wife - another major thread to the story.
By the nature of its subject matter this is a more difficult book to read than Bugles and a Tiger but Masters' skill as a writer and insight makes it worth the effort. ( )
  JenIanB | Jul 29, 2010 |
John Master's second volume in his autobiography details his time during WWII as a British officer in the Indian Army. Masters--an eloquent writer with keen insight--spent most of the war as a staff officer, with time in command of one of the Chindit Brigades. Masters provides details on what it takes to be a staff officer, but also to command high-quality troops under extremely difficult conditions. Pay particular attention to the part of the book where Masters writes about ordering the mercy killing of several of his troops. Masters was forced to make a horrifically difficult decision, and would have to live with it for the rest of his life. ( )
  MWShort | Jun 11, 2006 |
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"The Road Past Mandalay concludes the novelist John Masters' account of his military career. At the outbreak of the Second World War, he was a lieutenant in the 4th Gurkha Rifles. By 1944 he commanded a brigade of Chindits on their exceptionally hazardous mission behind Japanese lines. "Its purpose is to tell the story of how a professional officer of the old Indian Army reached some sort of maturity both as a soldier and a man. Some parts of the story are very unpleasant - so was the war it records; others are almost painfully personal - but this is not a battle diary: this is the story of one man's life. Of death and love I cannot say less with honesty or more with propriety.""--BOOK JACKET.… (more)

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