A specialized history of the war within the war--the Burma campaign that heavily involved Britain, India, China, Japan, and to a minor extent the US for four long years. Allen, an English historian and professor who served as an intelligence officer in Southeast Asia during WW II, has previously authored Sittang: the Last Battle. He is something of an expert on the Burma war, and that expertise brings those battles to life. Too often, Americans concentrate on the ravages of Europe during WW II, as well as America's own Pacific miseries, to the exclusion of some of the other torturous spots of the war. Burma was one of these. Larger than France, Burma twice in the course of three years saw warring armies ravage her terrain. A pawn in a larger game, she was used by Japan to cut China's supply lines, by Britain to hold her Indian empire. Allen details the gruesome war and all of its little dramas--its jungle combat and its desert warfare, the 900-mile British retreat, which makes Dunkirk look like child's play. Along the way, we meet a colorful array of military characters--America's own ""Vinegar Joe"" Stilwell, Orde Win-gate, master Japanese generals, such as Mutaguchi, the famed Burmese rebel Aung San, Field Marshall Slim, and Lord Mountbatten himself. This is a scholarly work, but one sure to be of interest to inveterate WW II readers as well as academics. To the dry narrative of campaign details, Allen appends several socio-military surveys concerning sex in the context of the war, class differences between officers and soldiers, and race differences in the area. A useful addition to the store of WW II literature.