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Uncle Bill

Uncle Bill

Masterly biography of the ‘greatest commander of the 20th century’

In 2011 the National Army Museum conducted a poll to decide who merited the title of ‘Britain’s Greatest General’. In the end two men shared the honour. One, predictably, was the Duke of Wellington. The other was Bill Slim. Had he been alive, Slim would have been surprised, for he was the most modest of men – a rare quality among generals. Of all the plaudits heaped on him during his life, the one he valued most was the epithet by which he was affectionately known to the troops: ‘Uncle Bill’.

Born in Bristol in 1891, the son of a small-time businessman, he was commissioned as a temporary Second Lieutenant on the outbreak of the First World War. Seriously wounded twice, in Gallipoli and Mesopotamia, he was awarded the Military Cross in 1918. Between the wars he served in the Indian Army with the Gurkhas and began writing short stories to supplement his income.

Promotion came rapidly with the Second World War, and in March 1942 he was sent to Burma to take command of the First Burma Corps, then in full flight from the advancing Japanese. Through the force of his leadership, Slim turned disorderly panic into a controlled military withdrawal across the border into India. Two years later, having raised and trained the largest army ever assembled by Britain, Slim returned to drive the enemy out of Burma and shatter the myth of Japanese invincibility which had hamstrung Allied operations in the East for so long. Probably the most respected and loved military leader since the Duke of Marlborough, he later became a popular and successful Governor-General of Australia in 1953, was raised to the peerage, and died in London in 1970.

This masterly biography has been written with the full co-operation of the Slim family.
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Genre: Humanities / History / Military History

On Sale: 8th August 2013

Price: £25

ISBN-13: 9780297865841

Reviews

Last year, a poll at the National Army Museum to determine Britain's greatest general ended in a tie between Wellington and Slim. This biography will do much more to tip the scales. It pays magnificent tribute to Slim in a very well-informed assessment of what he did to deserve this accolade. It is a most exciting read, full of vivid, even lurid descriptions of the sufferings inflicted by the terrain and the climate as well as by the bestiality of the Japanese enemy... [a] forcefully written biography
Peter Lewis, Daily Mail
readable, well-constructed and robustly... expressed
Andro Linklater, The Spectator
Precision and easy-going style have added appreciably to the historical record of `Uncle Bill` Slim and the extraordinary skill and fortitude of his campaigns.
Andrew Lycett, Literary Review
Russell Miller gives an admirable account.
Piers Brendon, The Oldie
Last year, a poll at the National Army Museum to determine Britain's greatest general ended in a tie between Wellington and Slim. This biography will do much more to tip the scales. It pays magnificent tribute to Slim in a very well-informed assessment of what he did to deserve this accolade. It is a most exciting read, full of vivid, even lurid descriptions of the sufferings inflicted by the terrain and the climate as well as by the bestiality of the Japanese enemy... [a] forcefully written biography
Peter Lewis, DAILY MAIL
readable, well-constructed and robustly... expressed
Andro Linklater, THE SPECTATOR
Precision and easy-going style have added appreciably to the historical record of `Uncle Bill` Slim and the extraordinary skill and fortitude of his campaigns.
Andrew Lycett, LITERARY REVIEW
Russell Miller gives an admirable account.
Piers Brendon, THE OLDIE