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Descent into Hell

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If epic military history is your thing, they don’t come much grander than Peter Brune’s towering work, Descent into Hell.

This gripping story of the fall of Singapore and its aftermath during World War II cements Adelaide-based military historian Brune’s status in the Australian writers’ pantheon.

Descent into Hell, By Peter Brune, Allen & Unwin, $35

Descent into Hell, By Peter Brune, Allen & Unwin, $35

Meticulously researched and marked with acute critical analysis and a deep understanding of time, place and the war, the book carefully re-examines all the evidence and relevant sources with care and integrity.

The subject is complex – the disastrous Malayan Campaign, the occupation of Singapore by the Japanese, and the horrors of the Thai-Burma Railway – yet Brune writes well and thus makes his account absorbing reading. He asks the hard questions and resists easy answers.

Descent into Hell is not merely another war narrative, but a fresh exploration and reconstruction of the whole chain of command during some of the worst-fought battles of World War II. It includes controversial views on the incompetence of some Australian commanders and the bravery of the diggers.

There are also exposes on the effectiveness of commanders who became future leaders, and the consequences for Britain and its allies of their defeat during the Malaya debacle.

Frank, provocative, remarkable in its clarity and simply written , Descent into Hell is a book that you will be thinking and talking about long after the final page is read.

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