The story of one of the most brutal battles in modern history -- fought at a turning point of the Second World War. In early 1942, District Commissioner Charles Pawsey stood in the hills overlooking Kohima watching the first of thousands of refugees scrambling for the safety of India. The Japanese army was advancing through Burma and would eventually arrive at the Indian border in the high peaks and thick jungle of the Naga Hills, thought to be impassable by any army. Pawsey's bungalow and tennis court at Kohima became the pivotal scene of one of the last great battles of the British Empire, and one of the most ferocious (but largely forgotten) struggles in living memory. In a siege that lasted sixteen days and nights, a garrison of no more than 1,500 British and Indian soldiers, desperately short of water and with nowhere to move their wounded, faced a Japanese attacking force of 13,000. Much of the fighting was hand-to-hand -- the type of intimate slaughter that characterised the fighting on the Western Front -- men stabbed, clubbed and gouged their way across the blasted landscape, even using bamboo poles to javelin in explosives. Defeat for the British in this region could have meant the loss of India, and the collapse of the Allied war effort in the East. Told from all perspectives, and based on years of original research in Japan, Britain and India, war correspondent Fergal Keane brings his trademark narrative skills to the astounding story of Kohima -- the Stalingrad of the East -- and its astonishing heroism and brutality. Keane presents a moving account of this terrible battle, the men who witnessed it and the intimate slaughter of the siege. Of particular significance was the battle's grim aftermath: the horrific Japanese withdrawal, the long-term effect on veterans -- who became known as the 'silent fathers' -- and the end of the British and Japanese Empires in the East.
Fergal Keane OBE was born in London and educated in Ireland. He is one of the BBC's most distinguished correspondents, having worked for the corporation in Northern Ireland, South Africa, Asia and the Balkans. He has been awarded a BAFTA and has been named reporter of the year on television and radio, winning honours from the Royal Television Society and the Sony Radio Awards. He has also been named Reporter of the Year in the Amnesty International Press Awards and won the James Cameron Prize and the Edward R.Murrow Award from the US Overseas Press Association.