It would take the combined talents of a Zola, a Dostoevsky and a Céline, according to Frank McLynn, to tell the epic story of William Slim’s 14th Army in Burma during the Second World War. His aim is a more modest ‘history from above’, to tell the story of the ‘Forgotten Army’ through the biography of four of the Burma campaign’s big beasts – Slim; Louis Mountbatten, Supreme Allied Commander, South-East Asia Command; the American general Joseph Stilwell; and the Chindit leader, General Orde Wingate. McLynn thinks of them as the Burma campaign’s Four Musketeers – Mountbatten, the boastful royalist and self-publicist, plays d’Artagnan; Slim, the soldier and man of integrity, is Athos; General Wingate, with his Machiavellianism and vaulting ambition, is Aramis; and the honest, gullible extrovert Stilwell is Porthos.
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