FOUR DAYS by William Crook


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From a veteran British army officer: a first novel about the last days of the battle of Burma in 1945, with plenty of suspense and blood. Neil Roget, a pilot, is flying Brigadier Reginald Blake on a pre-assault reconnaissance mission over the jungle around the Irrawaddy River when they discover hidden Japanese defense forces that can turn the battle against the Allies. But their small plane is shot down by two Zeros, the general is wounded, and Roger decides to deliver the vital news by trekking 40 miles through swamp and jungle to the British lines, with the general strapped to his back. The Japanese have discovered them, however, and have sent out several patrols to kill them and sustain the surprise of Japanese resistance. The general keeps begging Roget to leave him behind, but the pilot is adamant, despite the nearby enemy patrols beating the bush for them (one 50-man patrol is led by a mad, sadistic samurai) and despite attacks by a gigantic python and the heavy monsoons. The two men also must fight all variety of impenetrable bamboo, hideous leeches, and their own psychological adjustments. Roget and the general finally win through to their own troops, only to learn, ironically, that the Japanese counterattack is part of the Allied plans and will be useless. And in an epilogue, the mad samurai is seen at war's end, departing A-bombed Japan via ritual suicide, fumblingly assisted by an aging cousin. Endurance, British-style and Japanese-style--a familiar but agonizingly vivid treatment of physical ordeals and codes of honor.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1980
Publisher: Atheneum