Burma Road

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Overview

The extraordinary story of the China-Burma-Indiatheater of operations during World War II

As the Imperial Japanese Army swept across China and South Asia at World War II's outset — closing all of China's seaports — more than 200,000 Chinese laborers embarked on a seemingly impossible task: to cut a 700-mile overland route — which would be called the Burma Road — from the southeast Chinese city of Kunming to Lashio, Burma. But with the fall of Burma in early 1942, the road was ...

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Overview

The extraordinary story of the China-Burma-Indiatheater of operations during World War II

As the Imperial Japanese Army swept across China and South Asia at World War II's outset — closing all of China's seaports — more than 200,000 Chinese laborers embarked on a seemingly impossible task: to cut a 700-mile overland route — which would be called the Burma Road — from the southeast Chinese city of Kunming to Lashio, Burma. But with the fall of Burma in early 1942, the road was severed, and it became the task of American General "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell to reopen it, while keeping China supplied by air-lift from India and simultaneously driving the Japanese out of Burma as the first step of the Allied offensive toward Japan.

In gripping prose, Donovan Webster follows the adventures of the American "Hump" pilots who flew hair-raising missions to make food-drops in China; tells the true story that inspired the famous film The Bridge on the River Kwai; and recounts the grueling jungle operations of Merrill's Marauders and the British Chindit Brigades. Interspersed with portraits of the American General Stilwell, the exceedingly eccentric British General Orde Wingate, and the mercurial Chinese Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek, The Burma Road vividly recreates the sprawling, sometimes hilarious, often harrowing, and still largely unknown stories of one of the greatest chapters of World War II.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
The story of the 700-mile supply route running from Burma to China, which took only a year to build-and was promptly overwhelmed by the Japanese. From a former senior editor for Outside. Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Another entry in a growing genre: outdoor-action writers (e.g., Hampton Sides, McKay Jenkins) turning to the Big Outside of WWII for material. Former Outside editor Webster has his wilderness skills down, useful knowledge for discovering traces in the South Asian jungle of what veterans assured him wouldn’t be there: the Burma Road. Getting to those traces was no easy matter, thanks to vigilant border guards in India and Burma, who apparently take a dim view of camera-toting adventurers; one bureaucratic encounter too many prompts Webster to remark, ". . . frustrated near my limit in the morning’s rising heat, I break into a smile. I realize that, more than anyone, Stilwell would understand." The Stilwell in question is, of course, the legendary American general dubbed "Vinegar Joe" by his admiring troops, who cobbled together a formidable fighting force out of ragtag elements of various units and then, more difficult, forged an alliance with Kachins and other tribespeople and even with the British, who had very different ideas of how to fight the Japanese. Faced with a tough enemy army and—as Webster reveals—battling cancer all the while, Stilwell did nearly the impossible, establishing a backcountry link from India to China by which, over land and air, Chinese forces could be supplied. Those forces were variously Communist and Nationalist, another source of complication; then there were the bizarre demands of Chang Kai-shek (who once ordered Stilwell to provide one watermelon for every four Chinese soldiers stationed in Burma); then there were the monsoons, pythons, and assorted other inconveniences and dangers. Combing the archives and interviewing survivors, Webster crafts alucid narrative that wrestles with any number of legends (Merrill’s Marauders, the Chindits, the bridge-builders over the River Kwai) and celebrates Stilwell’s remarkable accomplishments in the field. In all this, Webster doesn’t add much to the standard histories, but he brings a light hand and solid storytelling skills to his task. Agent: Kristine Dahl/ICM
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780060577858
  • Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
  • Publication date: 10/7/2003
  • Format: CD
  • Edition description: Abridged
  • Product dimensions: 5.70 (w) x 5.10 (h) x 0.80 (d)

Meet the Author

Bil Donovan is a fashion illustrator whose work has appeared in various publications and advertising campaigns worldwide. His many clients include Neiman Marcus, Estée Lauder, Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, and Mercedes-Benz. He is the author of Advanced Fashion Drawing: Lifestyle Illustration. He resides in New York City.

Bil Donovan is a fashion illustrator whose work has appeared in various publications and advertising campaigns worldwide. His many clients include Neiman Marcus, Estée Lauder, Givenchy, Yves Saint Laurent, and Mercedes-Benz. He is the author of Advanced Fashion Drawing: Lifestyle Illustration. He resides in New York City.

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First Chapter

The Burma Road
The Epic Story of the China-Burma-India Theater in World War II

The extraordinary story of the China-Burma-India theater of operations during World War II

As the Imperial Japanese Army swept across China and South Asia at World War II's outset -- closing all of China's seaports -- more than 200,000 Chinese laborers embarked on a seemingly impossible task: to cut a 700-mile overland route -- which would be called the Burma Road -- from the southeast Chinese city of Kunming to Lashio, Burma. But with the fall of Burma in early 1942, the road was severed, and it became the task of American General "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell to reopen it, while keeping China supplied by air-lift from India and simultaneously driving the Japanese out of Burma as the first step of the Allied offensive toward Japan.

In gripping prose, Donovan Webster follows the adventures of the American "Hump" pilots who flew hair-raising missions to make food-drops in China; tells the true story that inspired the famous film The Bridge on the River Kwai; and recounts the grueling jungle operations of Merrill's Marauders and the British Chindit Brigades. Interspersed with portraits of the American General Stilwell, the exceedingly eccentric British General Orde Wingate, and the mercurial Chinese Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek, The Burma Road vividly recreates the sprawling, sometimes hilarious, often harrowing, and still largely unknown stories of one of the greatest chapters of World War II.

The Burma Road
The Epic Story of the China-Burma-India Theater in World War II
. Copyright © by Donovan Webster. Reprinted by permission of HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. All rights reserved. Available now wherever books are sold.
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Customer Reviews

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Sort by: Showing 1 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted October 26, 2003

    a Burma Road reader

    Burma Road is a rare blend of well-researched history, rockin' narrative, and better-than-fiction fact. The characters come alive and the blood, sweat, and fears of the tale can almost be tasted under Donovan Webster's pen. I am NOT a war book buff, and in fact purchased the volume because I thought it was documentary of the author's expedition along the length of the Burma Road. What began as dissapointment when I realized this was a war book, evolved into immense pleasure as the story unfolded. It is a tale too important, a story too well researched, and an event too exciting to remain within the covers of a book. I hope someone has the vision to put Webster's words onto the big screen. After reading Burma Road, I ordered the author's other book, Aftermath, and it too appears to be a winner.

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