Forgotten Wars: Freedom and Revolution in Southeast Asia. By Christopher Bayly and Tim Harper. Cambridge, Mass.: Belknap Press, 2006. Maps. Photographs. Notes. Bibliography. Index. Pp. xxx, 674. $35.00. ISBN: 978-0-674-02153-2
The dropping of the American atomic bombs on Japan in August 1945, had signaled the birth of a new era. For a moment, the British Empire held sway in Southeast Asia and dominated the great crescent of land that stretched from India, through Burma, and into Singapore and in which were both French Indo-China and Dutch Indonesia. Yet, within a few years, that domination had crumbled; and a variety of nations were struggling for independence.
This book tells the story of the birth pains of a new Asian world, mostly between 1945 and 1949, and goes into the emergence of China as a communist monolith to the north.
Each of the ten chapters covers a violent and decisive event of this period in vivid detail and well describes the personalities involved. There is a list of some key characters and additional information about them, and some others, in the text. There are thirty-four photographs as a "rogue's gallery," but they don't tell the entire story. The five maps help a bit, but could...