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Defeat Into Victory: Battling Japan in Burma…

Defeat Into Victory: Battling Japan in Burma and India, 1942-1945 (1956)

by William Slim

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Well written and interesting account by Great Britain's best WW2 field commander, William Slim. His battlefield and logistics management skills enabled his resource-limited forces to drive the Japanese from Burma. A Gurkha general much as Wellington; who was derided by Napolean as a sepoy general; both were the best British generals of their wars.

According to the historian Robin Neillands, "Wellesley had by now acquired the experience on which his later successes were founded. He knew about command from the ground up, about the importance of logistics, about campaigning in a hostile environment.. Above all, he had gained a clear idea of how, by setting attainable objectives and relying on his own force and abilities, a campaign could be fought and won. This would be apt for describing Slim and he did it with very slim resources and primarily Indian soldiers. Slim often reflected n how frequently and by how much his plans changed but his battles objective rarely did.

It is amusing as well as pertinent to note that when Slim had to reduce his forces, during logistically difficult times, he sent out the Brits and kept the locals because of their lesser support requirements. He would have had similar concerns about Montgomery and many American generals. ( )
  jamespurcell | Apr 26, 2016 |
I knew little about this theatre of WW II but this volume gives a complete over view of the what took place in Burma. India was threaten but the Japanese never actually cross the border. Slim covers every battle from the moment he became involved in 1942 until VJ day and the clean up after.

Slim writes a very refreshing memoir in that he freely admits errors he made that led to defeats or delays in victory. He also points out times when he disagreed with his superiors and then in the end they were correct in their decisions. He spent time with Vinegar Joe Stilwell and Brig. Orde Wingate and goes into the conflicts that arose between them. He is very critical of Generalissimo Chaing Kai-shek and how he was more concerned more about retaining power than fighting the Japanese. He concludes with an analysis of how war will be fought in the future (he wrote this in 1956) and how air transport will be an important factor. He never mentions helicopters but he sure was correct about air transport being a huge factor in how future wars will be fought.
he one aspect of this theatre of war is what the front line soldier experienced. While Slim does give much credit to what these men overcame, he experienced limited moments on the front lines and he was more focused on presenting the over all picture. Now to find a memoir of a solder who fought in Burma. ( )
  lamour | Apr 11, 2013 |
Arguably the best Allied General of WWII; certainly the most attractive character; also the best writer.
  sonofcarc | Feb 26, 2013 |
Not only the best memoir from a British commander of WWII, but also one of the best leadership books. Slim's self awareness is apprent on every page; he makes no attempt to hide his errors and refuses to take more than his share of credit. This is not false modesty, his actions and the effect they had on the 14th Army speak for themselves: he always put his men first and it is they that he credits with forging victory. ( )
  Wilko976 | Dec 10, 2012 |
Slim's memoirs are the best I've ever read from a World War II Commander. He is self depricating, honest, fair minded and decent. He is also a very good writer.

You will learn a lot about the forgotten Burma campaign and really appreciate how he cobbled his army together in spite of massive supply and support gaps. ( )
  jcovington | Jul 9, 2007 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0815410220, Paperback)

Field Marshal Viscount Slim (1891-1970) led shattered British forces from Burma to India in one of the lesser-known but more nightmarish retreats of World War II. He then restored his army's fighting capabilities and morale with virtually no support from home and counterattacked. His army's slaughter of Japanese troops ultimately liberated India and Burma.

The first edition of Defeat Into Victory , published in 1956, was an immediate sensation selling 20,000 copies within a few days. This is an updated version with a new introduction by David W. Hogan Jr.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:03:22 -0400)

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