Burma ’44: The Battle That Turned World War II in the East

Grove. Jun. 2024. 448p. ISBN 9780802160584. $30. MILITARY HISTORY
Historian Holland (The Savage Storm) persuasively argues that the February 1944 Battle of the Admin Box in Arakan was a turning point on World War II’s Burma front. His book indicates that the Imperial Japanese forces looked to capitalize on their long string of successes in Burma by invading India. Of three possible invasion routes, the Arakan coastal strip had the necessary infrastructure to support an invading army. Over 14 days, the determined resistance of a hastily assembled Allied force of British, Gurkha, Sikh, and Burmese soldiers demonstrated that the Japanese were not invincible. The Battle of Admin Box denied the Japanese an invasion route, as well British supplies they’d planned to capture, and dealt heavy casualties to the Japanese forces. The introduction of newer, more agile Spitfire planes to squadrons nudged the state of the air war into the Allies’ favor. Relying heavily on British sources, Holland does an excellent job of highlighting the contributions and bravery of the Gurkha and Sikh forces.
VERDICT A thrilling account of a little-known but vital battle, for readers interested in World War II history, especially the Pacific Theater of Operations.
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