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Reviews of Singapore Burning

“...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 Last Crusade, 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 Singapore Burning i s a great hunk of a book, rich in personal accounts and unpublished source material.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 drama.”
Patrick Bishop, the Daily Telegraph
“ 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
“ 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

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Buy this book from
  Singapore Burning - Heroism and Surrender in World War Two
Viking Penguin,
London, 2005

ISBN 0-670-91341-3
A Penguin paperback edition is scheduled for May 2006.
(The Amazon catalogue entry that it came out in September this year is a mistake. As yet, no paperback exists.)
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