Book review: Another Man’s War: The Story of a Burma Boy in Britain’s Forgotten African Army by Barnaby Phillips

Goodreads Synopsis
At age 16 Isaac Fadoyebo ran away from his West African village to join the British Army. The Second World War was raging, and Nigeria’s colonial masters were desperate to find men to defend India and the Empire. He was taking breakfast deep in the Burmese jungle when the Japanese ambushed his unit and left him for dead. With the help of a Muslim family he survived, but in every other way Isaac was forgotten, all the more so as Nigeria struggled to come to terms with its newfound independence. Yet Isaac could not forget the debt he owed to the Burmese family, now trapped in a simmering sectarian conflict. In Another Man’s War, veteran foreign correspondent Barnaby Phillips shares the gripping, unforgettable story of a Burma Boy in the Second World War and the legacy of colonial rule.

My verdict: this is the review submitted on the Goodreads website
I received the book for free through Goodreads First Reads.

I entered this giveaway on behalf of my husband Michael, and I was lucky enough to win. The below review has come from Michael:

I, like so many people in Britain, know very little (if anything at all) about the situations of Burma/Myanmar and Nigeria in the second world war and post-war period. This book certainly goes some way to begin filling in those gaps in knowledge. Quite some time ago, I had gotten to a stage where watching historical films and documentaries, and even reading books about the second world war, had ceased to tell me anything that I didn’t already know something about, but this book gave me much information that I had previously had no idea of at all. More than the story of one soldier, or even the West African divisions that fought for Britain in the Indian theatre of the war (something totally glossed over by many of the mainstream histories of the period), this book goes some way to describe the post-war realities of the places that it mentions.

Exceedingly well written and even in the slow parts, never dull, I would say that this book is a must-read for anybody interested in the British Empire, West Africa, Nigeria, India, Burma/Myanmar and the second world war. I had originally intended to give this book a 4 out of 5 stars rating, as it left so many more questions than it had answers for, but then I remembered that it’s not one author’s job to spoonfeed me information. This book is a 5 star book, and anything less would be an insult.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

Captain Lawrence Oates

Today, being 16th March 2014, is 102 years to the day since Captain Lawrence Oates left his tent, stating, “I am just going outside and may be some time”, even though he knew that he was walking to his death. Why did he do this? Because he believed that if he stayed, he would have put the survival of the rest of his party in greater peril.

It seems like such a selfless thing to do and has really stuck with me ever since I saw the below picture, A Very Gallant Gentleman, which was painted by John Charles Dollman.

What an awful situation to be in; to know that the only way to try to save the others is to sacrifice your own life. Captain Oates is a hero. It’s such a shame that the rest of the group succumbed to the elements nine days later, and died only 11 miles away from where they were headed.