Two Bloggers Tackle WWII – Book Reviews

"Surviving the Death Railway" by: Hilary Custance Green

“Surviving the Death Railway” by: Hilary Custance Green

About the book….

The ordeals of the POWs put to slave labour by their Japanese masters on the ‘Burma Railway’ have been well documented yet never cease to shock. It is impossible not to be horrified and moved by their stoic courage in the face of inhuman brutality, appalling hardship and ever-present death.

While Barry Custance Baker was enduring his 1000 days of captivity, his young wife Phyllis was attempting to correspond with him and the families of Barry’s unit. Fortunately these moving letters have been preserved and appear, edited by their daughter Hilary, in this book along with Barry’s graphic memoir written after the War.

Surviving the Death Railway’s combination of first-hand account, correspondence and comment provide a unique insight into the long nightmare experienced by those in the Far East and at home.

The result is a powerful and inspiring account of one of the most shameful chapters in the history of mankind which makes for compelling reading.

About the author, Hilary Custance Green…

Hilary Custance Green

Hilary Custance Green

Hilary Custance Green has BAs in Fine Arts (UEA) and Sculpture (St Martin’s School of Art) and spent twenty years sculpting. In 1993 she graduated with an Open University BSc in Psychology and spent fifteen years working in brain science, gaining a PhD in Cognitive Psychology from Cambridge in 1999.
She has had three novels published and has spent six years researching this book. 
Born in Malaya in 1915, Barry Custance Baker married Phyllis, a fellow Cambridge graduate in 1939. Barry joined the Royal Corps of Signals and this book records his experiences as a POW. After gaining his freedom, they had three more children post-war. Barry stayed in the army until 1959, then took up teaching. Phyllis filled her life with voluntary work and the theatre.

Hilary Green’s blog can be located HERE!

"Pacific War" by: Matthew Wright

“Pacific War” by: Matthew Wright

In December 1941, Japan attacked the British Empire and the United States, turning the European war that had raged since 1939 into a global conflict. For a few desperate months during early 1942, the Kiwis faced a deep crisis. Australia had its own threat to face. Britain was stretched to the utmost against Germany, and the United States — with millions still unemployed — took time to turn its huge industry to war production.

Despite a heavy commitment to the European war, New Zealanders eventually fought the Japanese on land, sea and air, from Malaya to the Solomons and, finally, in Japanese home waters. Kiwis also contributed in many other ways, providing bases and recreation facilities for US forces, food for the whole campaign, even sending physicists to work on the atomic bomb project.
This was not easy. New Zealand had heavy commitments in North Africa and Europe. Even after the crisis of 1942 had passed, the country struggled to find the resources to keep air force, navy and army operating in the Pacific. New Zealand’s land component was finally withdrawn in 1944 after ongoing manpower issues reached crisis point — an issue that soon became entwined with Pacific politics and New Zealand’s role in the war. This book focuses on the army contribution and the politics that surrounded it; but we must not undervalue New Zealand’s ongoing and long-term air and naval campaigns in theatre. The navy, in particular, took a front-line role from the beginning of the Pacific struggle in December 1941 to the very last actions of the war in August 1945.

About the author..

Matthew J. Wright

Matthew J. Wright

I’m a New Zealand writer. My main interests are in the sciences – physics, particularly, though I’m deeply curious about a lot of stuff, especially the human condition. I have qualifications in writing, music and anthropology among other fields, and hold multiple post-graduate degrees in history. I’m also a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society at University College, London. However, I don’t define myself as a historian and prefer not to be labelled as one.

I write a lot. I published my first short story in 1976 and since the early 1980s have worked professionally as a writer, historian, journalist, reviewer, and in media relations. My publications include more than 550 articles, academic papers, reviews and over 50 books on topics ranging from travel guides to biography, engineering, military and social history. I’ve been published principally by Penguin Random House.

Matthew Wright’s blog can be located Here!

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TWO OTHER BOOKS ON THE WAR WILL BE HIGHLIGHTED IN A FEW WEEKS.

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About GP Cox

Everett Smith served with the Headquarters Company, 187th Regiment, 11th A/B Division during WWII. This site is in tribute to my father, "Smitty." GPCox is a member of the 11th Airborne Association. Member # 4511 and extremely proud of that fact!

Posted on July 8, 2016, in Book Reviews, Current News, Uncategorized, WWII and tagged , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 66 Comments.

  1. wow this blog is very amazing!!! please do check my blog too

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Always such good information

    Liked by 1 person

  3. You are such a resource!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is the FB page of Eric Montgomery who successfully had the incorrect information changed on his great uncles stone in Cambridge. https://www.facebook.com/stealth7usa?fref=ts

    Liked by 1 person

  5. Links to a couple of good books, whose material may help to fill in the missing gaps in the overall history of the construction of that notorious railway.
    Thanks for sharing gp.

    Like

    • My pleasure, Ian. Being as I rarely, if ever, do book reviews, I was really remiss in failing to show these. I’m working on getting two more reviews ready, probably about 3-4 weeks away.

      Liked by 1 person

  6. Thank you for teaching us about history, and introducing us to news books / authors

    Liked by 1 person

    • I don’t usually do books here (which is strange being as I have my nose in one a lot of my time), but it’s good for readers to know about some professional writers. Thank you for dropping by and reading about them.

      Like

  7. I always enjoy reading well written reviews + several at the hospital will enjoy them as well.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. E very interessant post
    Happy sunday

    Like

  9. Thank you, GP, that is wonderful. I am so grateful that these men and woman are getting another life, not just through the book, but through the work of people like you. I am a rare blog visitor at the moment as the whole publishing business has taken over temporarily. I have agreed to give some lectures and I am frantically preparing them! Meanwhile family life and events go on. My father describes the man who liberated his camp as ‘a single American paratrooper… in well-pressed jungle green uniform, polished boots and a complete armoury of weapons…’ these included a sub-machine gun, two pistols in his belt and several knives! If I could find a good period photo of such a one I could put it into my next talk!

    Like

  10. More very interesting books to read. I love the ones about the military too.

    Liked by 1 person

  11. Thank you for the tip off to these books.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. The New Zealanders also fought in the first major naval battle of WWII HMNZ Archilles, in company with the HMS Exeter & HMS Ajax cornered and after the battle forced the Graf Spee into Montevideo where after some skull duggery Capt Lansdorff (an honourable naval officer and gentleman) scuttled his ship to save it from being either destroyed by what was supposedly a great British Fleet that was now lying in wait with consequent loss of life amongst his men, or possibly captured as a prize by the RN, (as I said he was an old school officer & gentleman);
    After arranging and attending the funeral of his men killed in the action, he retired to his quarters and took his own life.
    The Kiwi’s were in both WW’s from the word go, and sustained greater losses per capita than any other BE country; too the NZ Maories were treated as equal and fought with distinction alongside their European mates aboard the Achilles

    Liked by 2 people

    • Thank you, Beari. I’ve included mentioning New Zealand contributions as much as I’ve been able to locate at the time of the post being published. At this point of the war, pilots were involved, but often in conjunction with an American unit, which makes the distinction difficult, but I try. I appreciate you keeping me on my toes!!

      Liked by 1 person

  13. Great review Everett!

    Liked by 1 person

  14. Not familiar with the second author, but Hilary is one of my all-time favorite bloggers. –Curt Mekemson

    Liked by 1 person

  15. Best wishes on your new publications! Hilary, I’m sure your dad is proud. You do your parents good.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. Awesome 2 Books GP..Putting them on the TO READ list.

    You know the Burma Railroad in WW2 is just an amazing story of human endurance and survival (and Japanese barbarism) in case any of your readers have not seen it, check out the Railway Man on Netflix..it is a movie based on the true story of Eric Lomax, a British POW that helped build the Burma Railroad.

    Liked by 1 person

  17. GP. On the same subject, I can recommend this powerful film, which is widely available.
    http://www.imdb.com/title/tt2058107/
    Best wishes, Pete.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. GP, the link to Matthew’s blog comes up as not found for me and suggests an unrelated blog by an mfwright instead.

    Thank you for bringing other WWII writer to the attention of your readers. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  19. A fine detailed review!

    Liked by 2 people

  20. A couple of books I’ll have to get.

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Thank you for helping out, these are 2 terrific writers.

    Like

  22. Thank you for taking a look back into the archives. These two authors have done some great work on their books!

    Like

  1. Pingback: Two Bloggers Tackle WWII – Book Reviews – Brett Brecht

  2. Pingback: Two Bloggers Tackle WWII – Book Reviews | Pacific Paratrooper | First Night History

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