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January 01, 2010


Adam Daniel Mezei

Hi David,

Great post. I was recently reading quite a bit about the CBI theater as part of my coverage of Hannah Pakula's biography about Madama Chiang, THE LAST EMPRESS which is turning out to be quite good (I'm about half-way through). It spurred be to go out and grab the Jay Taylor G-mo tell-all called, naturally, THE GENERALISSIMO, as well, which I should be getting into during these early 2010 weeks. If you haven't picked up the former, I'd suggest it as a possible add to your collection.

I wanted to ask you, however, if you could recommend a good Orde Wingate title. It doesn't have to necessarily be a biography, although that would be very welcome, too. I've read much about him as part of his clandestine activities in pre-'48 British Palestine, and his training of Yishuv members in guerrilla warfare, much of which he'd picked up during his time in the CBI theater. But a full book which reveals the man I haven't yet covered.

Thanks again for the title tip-offs. My bookcase grows as I read your marvellously well-crafted posts.


Hi Adam,

At some point in my reading I plan to get back to the subject of the Chiangs, and the two books you mentioned are on my wishlist. Sadly, much of what has been written about China's 20th Century Leaders, from Pu Yi to Deng Xiaoping, has been tainted by sycophancy, venom, or self-interest. Anything that casts a balanced light on the figures of the Chinese revolution is a welcome addition to the literature.

For the Orde Wingate book, pick up FIRE IN THE NIGHT by John Bierman and Colin Smith, which is the most balanced (and highly readable) account of his career to date. The authors manage to celebrate what made Wingate such an effective warrior while making clear the why the British Army leadership found him such an irritant.

One example of the latter from Wingate's Palestine days: the British Army establishment was largely composed of two kinds of officers: Orientalists who were sympathetic to Mohammad Amin Al-Husayni and his anti-Zionist activities, or those who didn't care either way. As an outspoken Zionist, Wingate made few friends among the Sandhurst Alumni Association.

Let me know when you get through Jay Taylor's book. Thanks!

Chris Carr

Good post. Piqued my interested to go buy and read, Shattered Sword.

Cheers from Cal Poly ...

Thanks for the fulsome reply, D. I've vaguely heard of Fire In the Night, and I'll see what I can track down on Have you visited in the Wingate Institute in Israel, incidentally?

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