Forgotten Wars: Freedom and Revolution in Southeast Asia

Forgotten Wars: Freedom and Revolution in Southeast Asia

by Christopher Bayly, Tim Harper


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In September 1945, after the fall of the atomic bomb—and with it, the Japanese empire—Asia was dominated by the British. Governing a vast crescent of land that stretched from India through Burma and down to Singapore, and with troops occupying the French and Dutch colonies in southern Vietnam and Indonesia, Britain's imperial might had never seemed stronger.

Yet within a few violent years, British power in the region would crumble, and myriad independent nations would struggle into existence. Christopher Bayly and Tim Harper show how World War II never really ended in these ravaged Asian lands but instead continued in bloody civil wars, anti-colonial insurrections, and inter-communal massacres. These years became the most formative in modern Asian history, as Western imperialism vied with nascent nationalist and communist revolutionaries for political control.

Forgotten Wars, a sequel to the authors' acclaimed Forgotten Armies, is a panoramic account of the bitter wars of the end of empire, seen not only through the eyes of the fighters, but also through the personal stories of ordinary people: the poor and bewildered caught up in India's Hindu-Muslim massacres; the peasant farmers ravaged by warfare between British forces and revolutionaries in Malaya; the Burmese minorities devastated by separatist revolt. Throughout, we are given a stunning portrait of societies poised between the hope of independence and the fear of strife. Forgotten Wars vividly brings to life the inescapable conflicts and manifold dramas that shaped today's Asia.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674057074
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 10/30/2010
Pages: 704
Sales rank: 956,528
Product dimensions: 6.00(w) x 9.20(h) x 1.90(d)

About the Author

Christopher Bayly was Vere Harmsworth Professor, Emeritus, at the University of Cambridge, and a Fellow of St Catharine’s College.

Tim Harper is Professor of the History of Southeast Asia and Director of the Centre for History and Economics at the University of Cambridge. His books include The End of Empire and the Making of Malaya and, with Christopher Bayly, Forgotten Armies and Forgotten Wars (both from Harvard).

What People are Saying About This

Sugata Bose

Combining breathtaking, evocative narrative with razor-sharp historical analysis, Bayly and Harper provide a dramatic account of independent Asia's baptism of fire in the turbulent aftermath of the Second World War. They capture in vivid detail the euphoria and trauma that swept the crescent stretching from Calcutta to Singapore as Britain's Asian empire unraveled. This brilliant book is indispensable reading for anyone interested in the history of Britain, Asia and empire.
Sugata Bose, author of A Hundred Horizons: the Indian Ocean in the Age of Global Empire

Ronald Spector

Forgotten Wars is an insightful and original look at the fate of Britain's Asian Empire in the wake of World War II. Engaging and provocative, the masterful discussion of the Malayan Emergency will be of interest to all concerned with the dilemmas presented by insurgencies in our contemporary world.
Ronald Spector, author of In the Ruins of Empire: The Japanese Surrender and the Struggle for a Postwar Asia

Akira Iriye

Like their earlier collaborative volume, Forgotten Armies, Bayly and Harper's new book presents a fascinating story of Britain's Asian empire in transition. Europeans, Americans, Chinese, Japanese, Indians, Burmese, Malays, Indonesians, and many others interacted as they sought to define anew the nature of empire, territory, and citizenship. There is no better way to understand the region's survival and emergence as a center of economic development and prosperity than to revisit the immediate postwar years under the expert guidance provided by Bayly and Harper.

Akira Iriye, Professor of History Emeritus, Harvard University

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