Here is some food for thought, were that possible for the Donald Trumps (and Peter Duttons) of this world.

Who is the most famous American illegal immigrant?

There are many candidates, but have a look in the wallet, bleaders in the U.S.A. Got a ten spot? Look at Alexander Hamilton. He is one of the finalists.

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First, why is he on the ten, and then how did he get there.

He is on the ten because he created the United States currency. He devised the reserve bank system, coinage, paper money and a lot more. A founder indeed. (He was also an artillery officer in the Revolutionary War, more military service that Trump has seen.)

Until he was murdered, it was widely supposed Hamilton would succeed George Washington as leader of the Federalist Party. It was Hamilton who first bruited the Washington Monument.

Hamilton was also an undocumented, illegal immigrant born out of wedlock to a French mother on a Danish island in the Caribbean Sea who entered America at age eighteen. What a trifecta. Moreover his maternal language was French. He learned English as a teenager at a Jewish school and from the Dutch businessman for whom he worked.

What would Trump or his local imitator Dutton make of that?

A voodoo frog on a bicycle and a bastard to boot. Literal in the case of Hamilton and figurative in the other cases.

The closer Donald Trump gets to the Republican nomination the more the media, other Republicans, and some Democrats will discover his virtues. It is always the same, every four years the cycle is repeated as though for the first time.

Earlier in the campaign qualities deprecated and ridiculed in a candidate, will come to be accepted and then celebrated as positive.

For example, inattention to facts will transform to strategic thinking, untrammelled by petty details.

For example, flippant and destructive remarks, will be transformed into suggestions, and trial balloons.

For example, hostility to Hispanics, refugees, Muslims, women, left handers, homosexuals, will become — thanks to the alchemy of opportunism — unifying remarks.

For example, vague and diffuse threats to other nations will become, presto, disguised diplomacy.

The media always leads the way in this prostitution. When it seems a candidate is going to win, the realisation follows that an accommodation will have to be made with the candidate to keep manufacturing the news.

Even a big target like Trump will get the benefit of this self-censorship. Indeed, the more he threatens the media, the sooner some of its representatives will fall into line in the hope of securing favours before others comply. When it comes to self-serving opportunism, no one can beat Murdoch’s organs.

Soon there will be a rapprochement between Foxy News and The Donald. ‘You read it here first!’

Other Republicans will accept their own candidate, no matter what. All the posturing and playing hard to get will evaporate when success looms. The office seekers ever so subtlety seek office with more finesse than Chris Christie.

Then there will be Democrats who see Trump’s pull in their electorate, and have no wish to rile voters. These are the ‘If I keep quiet maybe their will not notice my party label is Democrat’ leaders. Some of them will couch their campaign publicity to omit the very word 'Democrat.' such leaders as they are.

Jimmie Carter went from ‘Jimmie Who?’ to a sage in this kind of transformation. Ronald Reagan’s habit of falling asleep in meetings, became a cool detachment. John McCain’s long past use-by-date became maturity. Mitt Romney's narrow sectarianism became a virtue.

I have made one hundred visits to the Newtown Gym on the current annual membership, which continues to late September. Three or so days a week after walking the dog around the park I head for the gym, while Kate takes the mutt home.

Gym logo-4.png I cannot vouch for either the 4 a.m. start or the midnight finish.

A visit to the gym consists of twenty-five minutes on one of the stationary bicycles or the upper torso whirly-gig. There follow stretches of the calf and thigh. Then comes a test of some of the metals to see if they are still heavy. The weights will includes both leg and upper body.

When pressed for time I omit some, or all of the weights.

The gym routine involves a uniform of sweat pants and shirt with a red jacket, pockets stuffed with reading matter, water bottle, sun glasses for the walk to and from, cleaning cloth for the glasses, earphones, and a neck pouch for the iPhone and notebook. That is in addition to the house keys and wallet in the sweat pants pockets, along with the magic fob to enter the gym. Locked and loaded.

I read on the bikes and listen to podcasts on the upper torso machines, hence the earphones. If possible I use a device near a window to watch the world go by on King or Wilson Streets. The first choice is listening is ‘In Our Time’ with Lord Bragg from BBC4, followed by ‘The Writer’s Almanac’ with Garrison Keillor, and ‘Grammar Girl’ with Mignon Fogarty. Choices two and three come into play when his Lordship goes on vacation.

I keep notes on what I do at the gym, so as to vary the exercises from one visit to another, in the notebook. It is partly encoded, since I am the only reader.

Gym notes-4.jpeg

Usually the routine is finished about 9 am. At home a star goes on the calendar date of each gym visit, as per daughter Julie's instructions.


Here I am après le gym on the way to Best and Brightest last week.

A very unusual locale and set-up for a krimi. Bravo!

The action centers on a research station in the forests along the Congo River where a multinational group of scientists observe chimpanzees sometime in the 1960s. The narrator is a recently-minted PhD who muses on what led her to this place when she is not watching the monkeys. (I do so detest backstories because they are distracting.)

Brazzaville beach.jpg

The book offers intriguing soupçons about the primatological research into the social customs, practices, and habits of a clan of chimpanzees, along with a study of their diet, and movements, including bowels.

In the distance, on the far side of a mountain range there is a four-way civil (tribal) war going on, and that spectre cannot be ignored, since it might influence the funding agencies to withdraw support. Of course, there are twists and turns among the scientist, though our protagonist is so junior, she seldom sees the professional rivalries firsthand. That is, she is out in the field observing, while back in the base camp the more senior members of the party wrangle over precedence. What she sees there in the field is remarkable and in time upsets the established order.

Spoiler alert.

The book recounts three intersecting conflicts: there is war among the chimpanzees, there is conflict among the scientists over the data and its interpretation, and the tribal war mentioned above. In time, the three come together. It is all very ambitious. The first two provided more than enough material, and this reader found the intrusion of the third inevitable and unnecessary.

The most interesting aspect is the primatology. The manners and morēs of the chimpanzees in the wild, the relations among them, including the conflict that is a war in all but name. But also of interest is the relationships of the primatology observers with the chimpanzees. The scientists personify the chimpanzees with nicknames, though technically they have specimen numbers, these latter are only used in the final write-ups. Nor is there any doubt that the chimpanzees recognise and distinguish the observers from themselves and that they know one observer from another, and there is one harrowing moment when that recognition is crucial.

Years ago as a prospective text for the Power course, I read Frans de Waal’s ‘Chimpanzee Politics’ (1985), a study of chimpanzees in the Arnham Zoo in the Netherlands, a book that is written with panache and insight, along with a few gratuitous reference to Machiavelli that I logged in my collection of inanities about him. While de Waal’s book has much technical detail about quasi-experimental tests done in captivity, it is easy enough for a general reader, and leaves one in no doubt of the intelligence and capacity to learn of chimpanzees.

Chimp Pol.jpg

Our heroine survives it all but some others (including some of the chimpanzees) do not. She finds that among the tribal warriors are some decent folks, that the mercenaries attracted to the conflict are a varied lot, that some of the scientists on the project are unscrupulous and mercenary themselves (really?), that the chimpanzees are capable of moral acts, that her husband’s suicide which more or less drove her to Africa remains a mystery, and that…. the most important lesson, life goes on even in Brazzaville Beach.

Boyd.jpg William Boyd

The writing is assured; the touch is light; the themes are serious as they slowly emerge. The context is richly detailed. Altogether a good book. William Boyd has others and I might read another one day but I will not make it a priority, because I thought this one had too many themes and circumstances competing for my thin attention. Once again, I seem to be in a minority because the back cover is plastered with testimonials from the highest sources like the ’New York Times.’

The title caught my eye because Brazzaville in the Republic of the Congo was where Charles De Gaulle made his second radio broadcast, this one to the French colonies. There was a large transmitter in Brazzaville, built in the 1930s to reach the African colonies and even some air and naval traffic. De Gaulle traveled there in 1940 to win supporters, and met with some success.

Bexit? Sure, why not? It is bound to be the solution to all problems, since none are homemade in Britain. rright?


Here is one prophecy.

The United Kingdom leaves the European Union.

Thereafter Scotland achieves sovereignty and leaves the United Kingdom to join the European Union.

Not to be left behind, Wales does the same.

Northern Ireland? Surely it would be next.

Brexit UK.jpg
The result will be Little England.

But not for long, because the rustbelt in the north will consider seceding, so as to join the European Union.

England flag.jpg

It will then be Littler England. And a new flag will have to be designed.

Who was the Steel Master?  That is today's topic, Bleaders.  Any one know? No one know?

Essington Lewis, he was the Steel Master.  Huh?  Never heard of him?  

That is the typical response I get from the dog walkers in the park, my research sample of opportunity, as they say in the learned journals of social science.  In those pages it usually means captive students in a class. My captives are tethered to pooches, mutts, and hounds. 

Every Australian should know Essington Lewis (1881-1961). For extra credit Bleaders, consult Professor Google or Dr Wikipedia on the subject, and report back. Better still, consult the Australian Dictionary of Biography.

Steel master.jpg

Lewis twice refused a knighthood from prime ministers Robert Menzies, Liberal, and John Curtin, Labor, because of the attendant publicity.  His phasing was colourful and not suited to a family blog like this.

In time he became a member of the Order of the Companion of Honour, an award so rare few royalist have heard of it and start reaching for thistles and garters to fathom it. It is well above both undergarments and weeds.  

At the time Lewis accepted it there were only five other Australian incumbents,and his adhesion was made possible by the direct intervention of King of England.  C.H., as it is styled among monarchist, is a club open only to long serving prime ministers. That single criterion excluded Lewis. It is an award so discreet, it escapes, like so much else, the notice of the ever vigilant press.  

He was BHP for a generation.

Essington Lewis.jpg Essington Lewis

There was a time, and not so long ago, when every Australian knew that BHP was the Big Australian. BHP stands for Broken Hill Proprietary which began in silver and lead mining and converted itself, in good part thanks to a young Essington Lewis, from the declining silver mines of South Australia to steel manufacturings in Newcastle on the Hunter River, near all that coal for firing the smelter.

Lewis was born and bred in South Australia, educated in the Adelaide Mining School, apprenticed to a BHP property when it was one of hundreds of small mines in the northern reaches of South Australia where the sand blows from the Northern Territory and the far west of New South Wales.

His father, a stock trader, declined not once, not twice, but three times to invest in the nascent BHP enterprise, who bred in his son a vigorous outdoor life, and an outlook on life that prized the outward, the physical, the material, control, and order. Kind of a Teddy Roosevelt without the books and reading glasses. Nor does religion seem to have figured in his life.

Essington was also a demon for detail, and no demon could hide from him in the details. He copied out passages from textbooks and carried them with long into his career, as ready references. He had his clothes altered to accommodate the notebooks he carried to record, it seems, nearly everything he saw and did. He usually had at least two notebooks on his person and he cross-referenced them one to another every night. Each was filled with his minute but legible hand writing, as he recorded, measured, weighed, calculated, hefted, and walked the properties on which he worked. In later life, he also recorded the names and work of everyone he meant on his many tours.

Here is one example from this early days. At the mine the teamsters would tell him how much chaff each horse consumed a day to do its work at a mine, and Lewis would note it, and multiple the cost, but he would also rise at 4 a.m. and feed the animals himself for a week to double-check it. In so doing, without changing the diet for the horses, he hit upon a more efficient way to distribute the chaff and instituted it. This is one of hundreds of examples of his attention to detail.

His strength was in assessing and evaluating, not in innovating, inventing, or developing. He worked his way up from school-boy apprentice to become managing director of the Big Australia when he was thirty-nine, passing over at least three others, each twenty years his senior. For their parts, each accepted his elevation with good grace.

Even before sitting in the big chair, he saved BHP from a blunder. The outgoing managing director had committed to a certain type of steel operation at Newcastle and had began buying equipment for it from the England and the United States. Lewis, though he needed the good will of the outgoing managing director to be promoted as his successor, argued against this kind of operation on technical grounds, and that first slowed and then stalled the implementation of it. Lewis was right, vindicated in examples of other steel operations that had used that method with bad results. Despite this clash, because Lewis’s arguments were based on technical facts, and at no time did he engage in any personal rivalry, come the time, the outgoing managing director recommended him.

Lewis would not have hesitated one instant in opposing the boss's decision. Technical considerations were the only considerations. He would not even have thought of keeping quiet to gain the promotion.

In person he was blunt and direct. He did not ‘suggest’ or ‘recommend,’ or ask for something ‘to be considered.’ He just said it. While on the factory floor this manner was coin, the higher he rose in the company, the politer the society with which he mixed, the more this bluntness annoyed, riled, and irritated many with who came into contact with him. He himself did not seek anyone’s society, and shrank from publicity of any kind. Unlike the Skases, Edelmans, Bonds, and Palmers of recent fame in Australian business, his picture was never to be seen in the press.

BHP went from a small hole in the ground to the Big Australia in part because of fortunate circumstances. Just as BHP was selling off its silver and lead interests to move into steel World War I led to a global demand for steel. Just as BHP was recovering from the post-war slump in steel demand, the automobile renewed the demand.

As managing director Lewis stressed education in his workforce and he sent the senior employees on study tours around the world every five years. He did so himself, as well, partly to learn the latest in steel technology but also to lure investors to Australia to consume the steel BHP made. The emphasis was always on the technical, improving what is already done. By contrast, he would not invest a single solitary shilling in research. Research to his mind, was just speculation. Let someone else pay for that.

This was an attitude about research that seeped into Australian industry, confirmed by the success of BHP. It also explains many of BHP’s subsequent misfortunes, and the like misfortunes of Australian industries in general.

Before becoming managing director, Lewis had his first trip out of South Australia to Newcastle on the Hunter River to look at the steel works site, and then around the world to examine steel production. This trip exceeds even Alexis de Tocqueville’s study tour for its depth and intensity. Lewis filled one notebook after another with observations from the cauldron of a smelter to a rolling plant to a board room across the United States and back, and then onto Europe. In time he shipped back to Melbourne, where he took up residence, several steamer trunks of notebooks, plans, technical drawings, copies of reports, extracts from assays, most in his own hand writing. The notebooks record the names of 1,700 people he met on the tour. All of his subsequent trips were like that.

He had married in his twenties and his wife and their subsequent children do not figure much in this telling. She was frail, and had a tuberculous, the disease that killed their second child. She devoted herself to good works in and around Melbourne.

Curiously, neither Federation nor World War I had much impact on Lewis. There is nary a word about the former in these pages. Nor the Boer War for that matter. Two of his brothers went into the army, and he thought about it, but was dissuaded because of the importance of the war work BHP was doing in the manufacture of ammunition. That much is said, but as seems to have been characteristic of the man, he did not think twice about it. The many hundreds of letters that remain, offer no insight into his thoughts. Invariably, the biographer has it, they describe events and actions. There are no ruminations to be found, and no confidences shared.

But World War II was his finest hour. He became director of munitions and then aviation production. By late 1944 he was managing director of three firms: defence industries employing 144,000 (many of them women), aviation production employing 50,000, and BHP itself employing 20,000. He worked eighteen hour days and took no salary, nor did any of the dozen or so BHP employees he took with him into his defence work. The Owen Gun that played so major a role on the Kokada Trail came from Lewis at the Kembla Plant. The Beaufort bombers that harried Japanese shipping in the Timor Sea came from the BHP plant at Fisherman’s Bend. When Holden could not figure out how to make tanks, Lewis took the assignment into his own hands and turned them out in anticipation of a Japanese landing.

He conducted his war work in Melbourne boardrooms where he cajoled, bribed, and bullied other industrialists to match his personal efforts and those of BHP. He also toured war industries throughout Australia on exhausting missions where he went to the factory floors to study the processes, as always looking for improvements, and talked to machine operators, storemen, women on the assembly line, and even, on one notable occasion, the janitor about what he found when sweeping out the place. In all of this he brought improvements to many facets of Australian manufacturing and business well beyond BHP.

This attention to detail is a great strength, and a great weakness.

But, I should have said earlier, he had insight into the bigger picture sometimes. On a 1936 study tour he went through Japan, where he was treated with exquisite courtesy, while being denied access to anything of substance. He wrote to a colleague that he found the courtesy aggressive and confining. When he returned, his petitioned politicians across the spectrum to prepare for war with Japan. He had concluded Japan was to be an aggressor.

Fearing to arouse Japanese attention, 'maybe they won’t notice us if we keep our mouths shut' was the key to Australian foreign policy, and that meant his arguments fell on deaf ears in Canberra. But he believed what he said and begin by fiat to put BHP on a war footing. He caused the Big Australian to tool up for the production of weapons, warships, and airplanes years before the war. When the war started in September 1939 BHP has an air fleet of dozen planes it had made itself which he donated to the Royal Australian Air Force.

In death his aversion to publicity continues. While the massive War Memorial (museum) in Canberra pays homage to every aspect of the home front of World War II, aboriginal patrols, land army, sock sewing, industrial production, Beauforts, Owen guns, nowhere is his name mentioned that I could find on a 2016 visit.

While the National Portrait Gallery online catalogue lists an oil portrait done of him after the war, when we visited in April 2016, it was in storage. The only surprising thing about that was that the guide we asked recognised the name, but was more interested in telling me about the painter, not the subject. Yes, I know galleries and museums have oodles of stuff they do not, cannot display. So Essington Lewis is in a warehouse in Fyshwick, and merchant princes like Jones and Coles are featured in the gallery, along with a self-portrait of man who painted Lewis. Figure out the priorities there.

Once up a time I had heard something about Essington Lewis, and so, unlike many others, I knew who he was. What I had heard was linked to a play (‘I am work’) must have had a lot of publicity because I remembered it, though I never saw it. I even wondered if it had been a radio serial on the ABC, but cannot verify that. Indeed, even tracking down the play proved to be pursuing an untamed ornithoid, as Mr. Data said in ‘The Last Outpost.’ But thanks to a friend I have now it in my Amazon basket. The irony is that the seller is in upstate New York and does not mail to Australia. Plan B it is.

This is a lobby poster.

I am work.jpg

There is no doubt that Lewis was a workaholic. He endured social occasions when he had to but never drank and seldom ate at them. He planned holidays he took like work missions, and took few of them. Idle at home, that he could not endure and went to the office, usually counting the steps as he walked. He had no outside interest and no small-talk. It was engineering or nothing.

The memory of that play left me with the ambition to read or see it, and when that failed, I looked for a biography and found this one. I hesitated for a time, in my precious way. Blainey became a pontificator in the latter 1980s for a vestigial White Australia, though no doubt he would thunder at such a crude characterisation. Indeed he did a lot of thundering into the 1990s against all the changes occurring around him. Me, I just grumble and get on with it.

Geoffrey_Blainey.jpg Geoffrey Blainey

I had no wish to dine at his intellectual table, but lacking alternatives, I overcame my churlishness. After all, it was my loss not to read the book, not his. The book is well written and impressively researched, though I found it did not have narrative drive. Reading it was uphill, but I put this down to Essington Lewis, who was a pre-eminent drone, and not to any failure on Blainey’s part. Too bad that.

File this under leadership. Amazon’s Mechanical Turk suggested this title to me and I downloaded it onto the Kindle. I had a vague recollection of the name Wingate from Burma in World War II and before that Palestine. Emphasis on the vague. There in those places he was a solider, but who he was and how he came to be there and what he did there, these were unknown to me.

Wingate cover.jpg

The author’s many careful efforts to make Wingate likeable or admirable fail. Selfish, egotistical, opinionated, volatile, contrary, argumentative, self-absorbed, vain, destructive, delusional, contradictory, and arrogant, these things he was. Genius? Well, how would a mere mortal know?

While his family had money, most of it was given away to charities converting heathen Africans to Christianity. His parents were fervent Christians who preferred prayer to coal fires in winter, prayers to doctors, Bible reading to schools, and waited every day for the second coming of the Saviour.

Because the devil is devious, his father occasionally beat his oldest son, Orde, as a preventative measure. One of Orde’s sisters wrote an angry and bitter memoir of their childhood in which she describes wearing all the clothes there were and watching the fingers turn blue in the cold. The food, well there was some, but words failed her when she tried to describe it.

The Wingate children were kept at home mostly to prevent sinful contact with corrupt beings, that is, other children, while waiting for the second coming. It goes on like that. It is no wonder he became such a nutter. The wonder is that anyone could put up with him. Well, in fact, few did.

The one allowance his parents did make at home was servants, and Wingate led the rest of life on the assumption that there were nameless servants following behind him to clear up the messes he left. These were many. Some well beyond the pay grade of a domestic service.

His father had been in the army (while waiting for the second coming) and as the oldest son Orde followed in those footsteps.

In anticipation of the second coming, at first the young Orde did not apply himself, but in time he did so. The author is unsure what the catalyst was, except perhaps to prove himself to his father. He studied to gain entry to the artillery, and got it, largely thanks to the intercession of an uncle with influence on the General Staff. Many other intercessions followed in his career, as he lurched from one mess to another, usually of his own making.

Wingate spent an inordinate amount of time bewailing the establishment and its many failures and corruptions, all the while advancing his career through the influence of that very establishment. The author draws some veils over the trail but it is pretty clear that he made his way thanks to the string-pulling time after time.

There is no doubt that once he gained a sinecure he worked hard at it and when he concentrated he had considerable ability, but these periods of application were few and far between. The point is that others better suited and more willing to work through channels were denied the place(s) he got, while he denounced the very establishment that made him.

He had a self-destructive streak, as many young men do, and his was perhaps redoubled by that prospect of the second coming, and he blithely extended his risk-taking to the men under his command. He served in the Sudan in the 1920s, and led patrols against various tribes, whom the author invariably describes as rebels. Hmm. It is their home and the Brits were the invaders.

Wingate hat.jpg Orde Wingate

Further wangling by relatives got him posted to Palestine the 1930s where he became an anti-Lawrence of Arabia. Though a serving British intelligence officer, he became more Zionist than the most ardent Zionist. Another volte-face, and again the author cannot quite pin down the trigger. I suggest it was another one of his delusions of grandeur. Gideon come to liberate Zion.

He was a good intelligence officer. A quick study, he learned Arabic and then Hebrew, and set up the routine translation of Arabic and Hebrew newspapers, pamphlets, lists, and registers that served the British well in the Middle East.

He also betrayed the trust of his position by passing much of the intelligence he saw along to Zionist and Jewish interests. This is reminiscent of the flippant betrayals of Kim Philby, who never gave treason a second thought. Neither did Wingate. Neither counted the bodies because of their treason. When Wingate's treason became known, it was hushed up on the grounds that to reveal it would be bad publicity. He prospered where another officer would have been courtmartialed and cashiered. This is a recurrent theme in his career. A giant debacle is covered up and he is promoted. Wingate learns that he can do no wrong, and continues in the same vein. (The author does not use the term 'treason' nor compare him to Philby. That is my work.)

He got away with behaviour that few others would do, let alone survive, and he thereafter prospered. He struck enlisted men more than once, and was not even reprimanded for it. Indeed he got away with so much that the rumour spread, and became self-fulling, that he had a powerful protector in the hierarchy. He then got away with even more childish behaviour that is all too tiresome to review. It is a reminder of the frequent inability of organisations to handle unsocialized miscreants, like the villains who embezzle millions from banks or the doctors who experiment on patients in hospitals.

His early efforts at combat were disastrous for those under his command. Though the author skirts around it, this reader concluded that Wingate had no grasp of small arms tactics and managed to get his men into a cross-fire of his own making. Rather than be reprimanded, he got a medal for that action, and four dead. That’s the pattern.

He did learn from the cross-fire, and later stressed infantry tactics, something the author seems to think is a sign of his genius. After leading his men into a self-made trap, he then read the field manual. Genius that.

Again despite the author’s delicacy, it is also pretty clear that Wingate’s raids on ‘Arab rebels and gangs,’ as the text styles them involved murdering women and child, preferably in their sleep. These crimes the author puts down to his enthusiasm. 'Crimes' is my word, not the author's.

His personal life was as chaotic, reckless, and destructive as his professional life. He wooed a young woman who waited patiently for him for six years (biological clock ticking) while he was promoted in the Sudan, and then he jilted her without a backward glance.

He threw her over because at thirty-one he had fallen in love with a fourteen year old girl. You read that right. I skipped through a lot of this quickly and I may have the ages slightly wrong but he was twice her age and she was underage. More waiting, and eventual marriage.

Throughout these campaigns he carried a Bible at all times and often referred to himself as Gideon. He meant that literally.

During World War II in Somaliland and Ethiopia against the Italians and Burma against the Japanese it was more of the same on an ever larger scale. By the time of his death he was a major-general, hard though that is to believe. In Burma he concocted wild schemes that got a lot of men killed to little strategic purpose, as far as I could see, despite the author’s efforts to dress it all up. On this point more below.

He also got himself killed. Fitting in a way, though as usual he took others with him. He was flying around inspecting the units that had the misfortune to be under his command, scattered through the jungles of northern Burma. The aircraft was proving to be difficult and the pilot discussed it with ground crews at several of the places they visited. But the pilot did not venture to tell Wingate the timetable must be delayed while the plane is fixed or replaced. Instead the pilot pressed on and the plane crashed. He did not dare tell Wingate whose volcanic temper was widely known.

Toward the end the author suggests as evidence of Wingate’s genius this comparison. It refers to his efforts in Burma to get behind the Japanese. Here is the comparison: Imagine, if a fortnight after the Allies’ Normandy landings, the Germans had inserted by gliders two divisions in Kent between London and south coast to block traffic, create a political crises, and deflate morale.

It is a striking image and it gave me pause. Briefly. Of course there is no comparison of Kent with the jungles of northern Burma, but more important, dropping two divisions of troops into the middle of nowhere was hardly a strategic move. Had the Germans done that, Dwight Eisenhower would have been unable to believe his luck. I say this with confidence, because Ike recognised from the start that the German offensive at the Bulge was crazy. True, it would do a lot of damage but not accomplish anything, because there was no strategic objective. Nor was there one in northern Burma.

TrevorRoyle.jpg Trevor Royle

I read it on the Kindle. The book is well written and to the point. My complaints are about Wingate, not the book. In fact, the book is very well judged, and while the author is clearly trying to rehabilitate Wingate against his many detractors, he provides plenty of information to allow a reader to decide, and I did. Put me in the detractor’s camp.

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