Military history

Forgotten Wars: The End Of Britains Asian Empire

Forgotten Wars: The End Of Britains Asian Empire

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.

Preface + Some Key Characters

Prologue: An Unending War

Chapter 1. 1945: Interregnum

The New Asia

The last journey of Subhas Chandra Bose

Nations without states

Three weeks in Malaya

The fall of Syonan

Chapter 2. 1945: The Pains of Victory

Burma intransigent

India: the key

Bengal on the brink

The reckoning

Chapter 3. 1945: A Second Colonial Conquest

‘Black Market Administration’

A world upside down

Liberal imperialism and New Democracy

‘Malaya for the Malays, not the Malayans’

Chapter 4. 1945: The First Wars of Peace

The crescent regained

Britain’s forgotten war in Vietnam

Britain and the birth of Indonesia

Freedom or death in Surabaya

Chapter 5. 1946: Freedom without Borders

The passing of the Malayan Spring

Hang Tuah and Hang Jebat

British and Indian mutinies

Dorman-Smith’s Waterloo

A new world order?

Chapter 6. 1946: One Empire Unravels, Another Is Born

The killing begins

Britain’s terminal crisis in Burma

The burial of the dead

Business as usual in Malaya

Chapter 7. 1947: At Freedom’s Gate

The last days of the Raj

The crescent fragments: Bengal divided

Tragedy in Rangoon

Disaster approaches

Chapter 8. 1947: Malaya on the Brink

The crescent fragments: orphans of empire

Malaya’s forgotten regiments

The strange disappearance of Mr Wright

‘Beware, the danger from the mountain’

A people’s constitution

Chapter 9. 1948: A Bloody Dawn

Boys’ Day in Burma

The genesis of communist rebellion

A summer of anarchy

Karens and Britons

India recedes, India reborn

Chapter 10. 1948: The Malayan Revolution

A third world war?

The frontier erupts

Calls to arms

Sten guns and stengahs

The road to Batang Kali

Chapter 11. 1949: The Centre Barely Holds

Britain, India and the coming of the Cold War

The centre barely holds

The battle for the ulu

Freedom and revolution

The generation of 1950

Epilogue: The End of Britain’s Asian Empire

Freedom, slowly and gently

Freedom from fear?

Flawed memories

A flawed inheritance