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Defeat Into Victory, by William Slim

Discussion in 'Book Reviews' started by ColHessler, Feb 13, 2018.

  1. ColHessler

    ColHessler Member

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    The full title is: Defeat Into Victory: Battling Japan in Burma and India, 1942-1945
    Author: Field Marshall Viscount William Slim
    Length: 576, including index

    Viscount Slim recounts for us his service in Burma and India, starting with when he got the call in East Africa, and got command of Burma Corps under General Sir Harold Alexander, through to the Japanese surrender. Slim gives us a nice mix of maps, events and his personal feelings, as the British are driven back to eastern India, fight the Imphal-Kohima Battle which marked Japan's westernmost advance, and the liberation of Burma in a breathtaking drive in a race to get to Rangoon before the 1945 monsoon.

    He also tells us of his interaction with various other leaders, such as "Vinegar Joe" Stillwell and Admiral Mountbatten, to Aung San of the Burma National Army.

    He also is able to admit his mistakes and gives more credit to his officers and men than most general's give in their memoirs.

    I did like his shout out to the Aussies, when he mentions the first army to stop them were the Australians at Milne Bay.

    I would have liked some pictures with this, since one of the things he talks about is when he would visit an American airfield and the photographers wanted his picture, he'd seek out an American private and shake hands with him. That would have been a great inclusion. There's also his unfortunate use of the word "Chinaman."

    Overall, this is a great addition to your library if you want an idea of the command burden placed on someone who is called on to do a lot with very little. Give it a try.
     
    Last edited: Feb 13, 2018
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  2. bushmaster

    bushmaster Active Member

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    Indeed, it's an excellent read. Slim was very much one of the great commanders of WW2.
     
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  3. Otto

    Otto No More Half Measures Staff Member WW2|ORG Editor

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    I've been looking for good book recommendations as I'm rebuilding my bookcase. I appreciate these reviews @ColHessler , keep them coming.
     
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  4. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I hadn't realized he written a book about his service in WWII. I've seen pretty strong arguments in favor of him being one of the best (if not the best) general in the war.
     
  5. bushmaster

    bushmaster Active Member

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    Slim, unlike most Allied commanders who finished the war in high command, experienced defeat as the underdog, victory as the underdog (or very nearly so), and final victory as a master of his craft.
     
  6. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    My understanding is that "Vinegar Joe" spoke well of him. He wasn't known for pulling punches when giving his opinion about his fellow general officers. This one goes on my to read list.
     
  7. bushmaster

    bushmaster Active Member

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    Slim was one of the few Brits of whom Stillwell had anything good to say.
     
  8. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Stilwell wasn't shy in his critique of the Chinese or fellow Americans either from what I recall.
     
  9. bushmaster

    bushmaster Active Member

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    He was an equal-opportunity loather.
     
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  10. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Again from what I've read and I'm far from an expert he usually had good cause for his opinions (indeed they were often widely shared) he just didn't have much restraint in voicing them.
     
  11. bushmaster

    bushmaster Active Member

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    I believe you're right on that. Loathing is somewhat more tolerable when justified. I don't know that he had much of a social filter.
     

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