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

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The harrowing story of one of the greatest chapters of World War II---the building and defense of the Burma Road

The Burma Road tells 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 the war's outset--closing all of China's seaports--more than 200,000 Chinese laborers embarked on a seemingly impossible task: to cut a seven-hundred-mile...
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Overview

The harrowing story of one of the greatest chapters of World War II---the building and defense of the Burma Road

The Burma Road tells 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 the war's outset--closing all of China's seaports--more than 200,000 Chinese laborers embarked on a seemingly impossible task: to cut a seven-hundred-mile overland route--which would be called the Burma Road--from the southwest Chinese city of Kunming to Lashio, Burma. But with the fall of Burma in early 1942, the Burma Road was severed, and it became the task of the newly arrived American General Stilwell to re-open it, while, at the same time, 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 breathtaking adventures of the American "Hump" pilots who flew hair-raising missions over the Himalayas to make food-drops in China; tells the true story of the mission 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 vivid portraits of the American General "Vinegar Joe" Stilwell, the exceedingly eccentric British General Orde Wingate, and the mercurial Chinese Generalissimo Chiang Kai-Shek, The Burma Road vividly re-creates 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: 9780786257195
  • Publisher: Gale Group
  • Publication date: 2/5/2004
  • Edition description: Large Print Edition
  • Pages: 733
  • Product dimensions: 5.64 (w) x 8.58 (h) x 1.47 (d)

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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