|...a magisterial account of the
British retreat along the Malay peninsula... Colin Smith knows
how it feels to be a soldier, and his story - the experiences
of named men and units as they fought, retreated with terrible
wounds or died - is unforgettably well told. So is his history
of the aftermath: the fall of the great city, the bayoneting
of the hospital wounded, the murder of the Australian nurses,
the massacre of the Chinese. population.
Neal Ascherson,The Observer
|What a cast. Colin Smith is a fine
novelist as well as a historian (he wrote The
a terrific yarn based in Palestine during the First World War)
and he knows how to drive the story along. All the big themes
are there: the hubris of the Allies and the Japanese, as well
as their courage; the pathos of the victims - from innocent
Malay and Chinese peasants to the pampered memsahibs...or the
dazed Indian recruits who were flung into the fray to defend
the Empire, each barely able to hold a rifle and wearing his
first pair of boots. ... Singapore Burning i s a great
hunk of a book, rich in personal accounts and unpublished source
material. It is beautifully told, shrewd and fair in its judgements
and character assessments and on occasions wryly funny. It
must now be considered the definitive book on this extraordinary
Patrick Bishop, the Daily Telegraph
| ...an epic narrative of those few weeks in which the
invaders, landing in the north of the Malayan peninsula, drove
relentlessly towards a city descending into chaos...making sense
of events that unfolded so rapidly is no easy task but Smith
succeeds brilliantly in weaving hundreds of individual stories
into a coherent whole.
Nick Rennison, The Sunday Times
| Smith tells the story vividly...a
fine history of what now seems primarily a particularly poignant
and horrifying human tragedy.
Tom Pocock, The Literary Review
| ...an excellent, meticulous account of the defeat.
Salil Tripathi, The Independent
|He has a sharp
eye for the telling anecdote, and sets his scenes and introduces
his characters with care. His prose is austere and engaging.
Even those incidents well known to Australians such as the
ambushing of the tanks at Bakri, or the shooting of the nurses
at Bangka Island and the escape of Sister Bullwinkel, are
fresh in the telling.
Hank Nelson, Book Talk, Australian Broadcasting Company.
|A meticulous account of the advance on Singapore between December 7 1941
and February 15 1942 when the island city formally surrendered... Given what
was going to happen to many of the prisoners fighting on does not now seem such
an absurd idea... This book provides an excellent opportunity to revisit
these hard questions.
Michael Sexton, Sydney Morning Herald