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The embers of empire

Kanika Datta  |  New Delhi 

Still less has been written about the post-war years that brought about the end of the British Empire in the south east Asian crescent of Burma and Malaya and the turmoil that spread to Java (now Indonesia), Laos, Cambodia and Vietnam. Christopher Bayley and Tim Harper repair both omissions with this volume and Forgotten Armies, the one preceding it.

Forgotten Armies traced the British army's ignominious defeat in Malaya and Burma by the Japanese mounted on bicycles and armed with skills in guerrilla warfare, demonstrating how British imperial might disintegrated in the sweaty jungles and swamps of this Asian crescent.

Forgotten Wars, the sequel, focuses on Britain's ham-handed attempt to re-establish its empire even as the sun rapidly set on its status as a global power.

Not surprisingly, the impulses for freedom flourished on the ruins of empire. The interregnum had seriously dented its reputation

First Published: Thu, May 22 2008. 00:00 IST