by Fergal Keane
1944, a small British force quartered on the Indian border faced over 15,000 Japanese troops, the ensuing battle was desperate, hand-to-hand fighting, strangling, grenades, swords and guns – anything to stave off the Japanese attack. Fergal Keane’s account is balanced, detailed and full of human stories; the memories of participants from both sides detail the battle and its aftermath. Fergal Keane immerses the reader in the fighting, blow-by-blow, we tremble at the outcome. No glorification or drum-beating here, a sober, magnificent account of combat and desperation.
The story of one of the most brutal battles in modern history -- fought at a major turning point of the Second World War. Kohima. In this remote Indian village near the border with Burma, a tiny force of British and Indian troops faced the might of the Imperial Japanese Army. Outnumbered ten to one, the defenders fought the Japanese hand to hand in a battle that was amongst the most savage in modern warfare. A garrison of no more than 1,500 fighting men, desperately short of water and with the wounded compelled to lie in the open, faced a force of 15,000 Japanese. They held the pass and prevented a Japanese victory that would have proved disastrous for the British. Another six weeks of bitter fighting followed as British and Indian reinforcements strove to drive the enemy out of India. When the battle was over, a Japanese army that had invaded India on a mission of imperial conquest had suffered the worst defeat in its history. Thousands of men lay dead on a devastated landscape, while tens of thousands more Japanese starved in a catastrophic retreat eastwards. They called the journey back to Burma the 'Road of Bones', as friends and comrades committed suicide or dropped dead from hunger along the jungle paths. Fergal Keane has reported for the BBC from conflicts on every continent over the past 25 years, and he brings to this work of history not only rigorous scholarship but a raw understanding of the pitiless nature of war. It is a story filled with vivid characters: the millionaire's son who refused a commission and was awarded a VC for his sacrifice in battle, the Roedean debutante who led a guerrilla band in the jungle, and the General who defied the orders of a hated superior in order to save the lives of his men. Based on original research in Japan, Britain and India, 'Road of Bones' is a story about extraordinary courage and the folly of imperial dreams.
'I found myself, on one or two pages towards the close, caught in a choking emotion...the evidence is meticulously gathered and the writing so powerful that it turns a book about a battle into a book about human beings, their existence, their end'
'With this electrifying and heart-rending tale BBC foreign correspondent Fergal Keane has catapulted himself into the top rank of our military historians'
'In his sweeping account of the battle in Kohima in 1944, Fergal Keane does justice to the memory of the men who fell and who survived...a vivid account which brings to life the brutality of that war...an engrossing narrative of ghastly battle'
'A profoundly tragic book by an eminent humanitarian. Fergal Keane is not a man for triumphalism, he is really writing a passionate elegy for all battles!it is a noble book that Keane has written...its grandeur lies in its essential vision -- decent forgiving, pitying and always regretful'
'Along with his war correspondent's feel for action, Keane brings to the task an eye for detail and a gift for describing what it is like to be in a battle at the lowest level...although Generals may command, plot and plan, in the end the success or failure will rest on the courage, motivation, training and fortitude of ordinary men. Road of Bones captures this superlatively'
Literary Review Praise for Fergal Keane:
'Keane's real distinction was in his reporting talents, which as this book shows, are considerable'
'His book is a memoir but it is so much more than that!a volume of the most exquisitely written and moving truth and honesty'
'A completely honest account of reporting conflict'
'An empowering story of triumph over adversity'
Publication date: 28/04/2011
Publisher: HarperPress an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers
|Publication date:||28th April 2011|
|Publisher:||HarperPress an imprint of HarperCollins Publishers|
|Genres:||Biography / Autobiography, History, The Real World,|
|Categories:||Second World War, Battles & campaigns, Asian history, 20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000,|
Fergal Keane was born in London and educated in Ireland. He is one of the BBC's most distinguished correspondents and an award-winning broadcaster and author. He has reported for the corporation from Northern Ireland, South Africa, Asia and the Balkans. He has been awarded a BAFTA, been named reporter of the year on television and radio, winning honours from the Royal Television Society and the Sony Radio Awards, most recently for his Radio 4 series 'Taking a Stand'. Keane has won the George Orwell prize for literature, the James Cameron Prize and the Edward R. Murrow Award from the US Overseas ...More About Fergal Keane