In 1942, the Japanese drive through south-east Asia defeated the British in the mind as much as on the ground, leaving "a devastating sensation of being trapped in a nightmare".
That nightmare finally lifted, tree by bloody tree, amid the jungles of Burma, when British and Indian soldiers at last broke the Japanese hold in intense close-quarters battles.
Often recounted, but still divisive, the Burma campaign finds an engaged and energetic chronicler in McLynn. He fights fiercely on behalf of his heroes – above all, modest, inspired General Bill Slim – and against the old-guard top brass.
By one of history's ironies, the postwar rulers of Burma have "espoused exactly the kind of paranoid xenophobia that brought the Japanese empire to grief".