THE WAR OF THE RUNNING DOGS by Noel Barber

THE WAR OF THE RUNNING DOGS

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KIRKUS REVIEW

A Union Jack-waving account of the 12-year British campaign against the Malayan guerrillas, saturated with encomia for Her Majesty's colonial forces and contempt for the native insurgents, referred to as ""bandits,"" ""communist terrorists,"" or just plain ""CT's' (""for easier reading""). Barber is somewhat perplexed as to how a rebellion could occur in this ""contented paradise"" where timid Malayans ""accepted British authority with polite indifference,"" where plantation owners and colonial policemen ""loved the country passionately"" and ""ruled it wisely"" with the aid of their ""fun-loving' allies, the local Sultans. Thus Barber arrives at a straightforward conspiracy theory of the well-organized-minority-of-terrorists sort. If Barker is to be believed the ""CT's' were bloodthirsty indeed, slitting the bellies of pregnant women, amputating the arms of hostages for food, using female agents to frame opponents on rape charges, among other ""Leninist"" tactics. Apart from this rehash of atrocity tales Barber adds nothing to the military chronicles of Ash's first counterinsurgency except a few fragments of gossip culled from plantation diaries and interviews. There are portraits of influential planters like Mr. Peter Lucy who got $2,000 for the corpse of a CT leader (Barber is pleased to note that he spent it on a sapphire ring for a faithful wife); other estimables include Big Bill Stafford whose ""killer squad"" defended England in the jungle. The book will be enjoyed by those who wanted to be at My Lai but couldn't make it. For a more balanced and intelligent, though still pro-British account, there is Edgar O'Ballance's Malaya: The Communist Insurgent War (1966).

Pub Date: March 20th, 1972
Publisher: Weybright & Talley -- dist. by McKay