Picture: Singapore, 1942, ""the last resort of yesterday in the world of tomorrow."" Picture: the Japanese poised to invade, a stubborn British general with far greater forces refusing to recognize they might not come by sea, unwilling to concede the need for fortifying defenses landward because it might be bad for civilian morale. Picture: the devastating news of the sinking of the British Navy's prides, the Prince of Wales and the Repulse, of the besieging of the ""fortress that never was."" Noel Barber relives the agony of Singapore from the viewpoint of individuals, military, official and civilian who were there: he substitutes an intensity and immediacy of personal involvement for decisive characterization. There are the men in command, overshadowed in the background by Churchill and Whitehall, who at last gave permission to surrender; the intricacies of protocol and the hierarchy, the confusion of the last days, the pettiness and the heroism are all on record. Leasor's Singapore (1357, 1967) was more a strategy study of British blunders; Barber makes it come alive for a wider readership than that book and his own Black Hole of Calcutta.