Japan’s invasion of Burma in 1942 set off the longest retreat in British military history. Along with the fall of Singapore, it marked the beginning of the end of British rule, not only in Burma but also in south and south-east Asia.
Britain’s defeat in Burma has been studied in detail, but Reporting the Retreat is the first account that looks at how war correspondents presented the campaign in Western newspapers, pictorial magazines, and newsreels. Twenty-six accredited war correspondents covered the campaign, and nearly half of them wrote books about it, in most cases while the war was ongoing and events were still fresh. Government officials censored these accounts, and claimed the authors were misinformed and sensationalist. Historians, on the other hand, have criticized the same accounts for expressing undue optimism, suggesting that the writers presented an unrealistic view of what had taken place in an effort to bolster morale.