Tom Pocock

A City Surprised

Singapore Burning: Heroism and Surrender in World War II


Viking 628pp £25 order from our bookshop

The fall of Singapore – like those of Rome, Constantinople and Berlin – has long been familiar as an epic, pivotal point in history. In its familiarity lies the power of this 600-page narrative, in which we meet the participants, first as they drink gin slings, dance to ‘Ain’t She Sweet’ and watch The Wizard of Oz, thinking of the distant Japanese, if at all, as funny little men wearing granny-glasses. We know what is going to happen to them, which they do not. But we cannot be quite sure. They might, they just might, be among the few that got away.

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