It's winter 1944 and the second World War is entering its most crucial state. A few months ago Ali Banana was a blacksmith's apprentice in his rural hometown in West Africa; now he's behind enemy lines, trekking through the Burmese jungle. He is fourteen years old. Led by the unforgettably charismatic Sergeant Damisa, the unit has been given orders to go behind enemy lines and wreak havoc. But Japanese snipers lurk behind every tree - and if they manage to escape the Japanese, infection and disease lie in waiting. As torrential rains turn the landscape into a muddy death trap, the losses mount up. Homesick and weary, the men of D-Section Thunder Brigade refuse to give up.
Taut and immediate, at once somber and exhilarating, The King's Rifle is the first novel to depict the experiences of black African soldiers in the Second World War. This is a story of real life battles, of the men who made the legend of the Chindits, the unconventional, quick strike division of the British Army in India. Horrific and always brilliantly executed, this vividly realized account details the madness, the sacrifice and the dark humor of that wars most vicious battleground. It is also the moving story of a boy trying to live long enough to become a man.
Overall, The King's Rifle is an exceptional work that gains depth as
it progresses toward its compelling and unforgettable dénouement. Bandele's
writing style may not appeal to all readers, but those interested in the story
of this mostly unheralded band of soldiers will want to put The King's Rifle
high on their lists. (Reviewed by Kim Kovacs).
Bandele favors a straight-ahead style fueled by imagery and wordplay, and his perspective on heavily traveled literary territory is refreshing and even endearing.
Starred Review. A revelation of unsung heroism, distinguished by love of language and lightness of touch.
The New Statesman - Dinaw Mengestu
While, as a writer, I know better than to believe narrative alone can change the way our nations respond to each other, I do believe, however irrationally, that it's harder to say that our lives are "hell" and that our conflicts are unavoidable when the truth is sitting right in front of you.
The Financial Times - Jonathan Gibbs
As war novels go, it's a departure from the norm, leavening the gruesome depictions of combat with jokes, proverbs and stories from the lives the soldiers left behind.
The Guardian - Giles Foden
It would spoil the ending of this short, powerful book (rarely does one wish a novel longer) to say what happens. ... Burma Boy is all the stronger for keeping its presentation of racial politics implicit rather than explicit.
The Guardian - Robert Collins
The absurdity of war has been done before, of course, but what's invigorating about Bandele's novel is his fine detail, and the fresh perspective of the Africans who took part.
The Independent - Tony Gould
[A] taut, tense and utterly riveting tale of comrades-in-arms undergoing conditions of such adversity as to defy belief.
The Times - David Grylls
Although racial tension is only lightly touched on, the author’s sharp awareness of ethnic identity is what makes the book original and moving. Highlighting the heroism and absurdity of war, it also illuminates a forgotten byway of African experience.
Major General Orde Charles Wingate was a controversial figure in the British
military during WWII. He was abrasive and opinionated, with ideas about warfare
that struck those around him as either idiotic or sheer genius. Many of his
superiors were impressed by him; others thought him a madman.
Wingate was born in India in 1903. He gained a commission in the Royal
Artillery in 1922, beginning a lifelong career in the military. During the years
that followed he served in the Sudan and later in Palestine. In 1940-41 he
formed a commando unit, "Gideon's Force," which operated on the
Ethiopian-Sudanese border, where it was very successful against the Italian
Army. He was sent to Burma in 1942 to form a force to combat the Japanese. These
soldiers became the Chindits (named after the Burmese word for a mythical winged
The Chindits were the largest of the allied
Special Forces in World War II. They were an international force including
British Infantry, Royal Engineers, Burma Rifles, Hong...
The devastating story of war through the eyes of a child soldier. Beah tells how, at the age of twelve, he fled attacking rebels and wandered a land rendered unrecognizable by violence. By thirteen, hed been picked up by the government army, and became a soldier.
Set in the haunting landscape of eastern Australia, this is a stunningly accomplished debut novel about the inescapable past: the ineffable ties of family, the wars fought by fathers and sons, and what goes unsaid.
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