In December 1941 the Japanese invaded Burma. For the British, the longest land campaign of the Second World War had begun. 100,000 African soldiers were taken from Britain’s colonies to fight the Japanese in the Burmese jungles. They performed heroically in one of the most brutal theatres of war, yet their contribution has been largely ignored.
Isaac Fadoyebo was one of those ‘Burma Boys’. At the age of sixteen he ran away from his Nigerian village to join the British Army. Sent to Burma, he was attacked and left for dead in the jungle by the Japanese. Sheltered by courageous local rice farmers, Isaac spent nine months in hiding before his eventual rescue. He returned to Nigeria a hero, but his story was soon forgotten. Barnaby Phillips travelled to Nigeria and Burma in search of Isaac, the family who saved his life, and the legacy of an Empire. Another Man’s War is Isaac’s story.
'An extraordinary story of moral fortitude and strength of character, calling to mind two other forest war classics —Spencer Chapman’s The Jungle is Neutral and George MacDonald Fraser’s Burma memoir Quartered Safe Out Here... [Phillips] captures nuances of Nigeria that only a man who knows and loves a place and people can... an extraordinary story, very well told'
‘Impressive… Phillips is a confident narrator… a gripping military history which brings African witnesses to the dying days of the British Empire out of the shadows’
"Another Man's War is riveting. It's an extraordinary story, well-researched and beautifully told — but not about the World War II you might know. Phillips delves deep into relationships, identity and much more in this stunning book. I couldn't put it down."
– Daily Telegraph Books of the Year
'Such a moving tribute to the power of the human spirit that it ranks alongside such classics of wartime literature as THE GREAT ESCAPE and BOLDNESS BE MY FRIEND’ Five stars
– Daily Telegraph
‘Excellent… such a gripping and valuable contribution to the literature… fascinating’
– African Arguments
‘Two young West African soldiers shipped halfway across the world in 1943 to fight for the British in Burma find themselves abandoned – wounded, starving and sick – in the unmapped jungle of the Arakan. Their astonishing adventures are reconstructed here in gripping detail… A real-life thriller with sobering implications for the British reader – but I found it impossible to put down.’
– Hilary Spurling, author of Burying the Bones
‘Brimming with facts, anecdotes and pathos, this page-turner is a must-read for anyone interested in military history and Nigeria’s transformation in the mid-twentieth century.’
– Noo Saro-Wiwa, author of Looking for Transwonderland: Travels in Nigeria
‘An enthralling human story of soldiers whose sacrifice has been too long neglected… This book deserves to become a classic of war history.’
– Fergal Keane, BBC Foreign Correspondent and author of Road of Bones
‘The hard-won victories of the Second World War define British identity to an extraordinary degree. Phillips illuminates vividly, through a very human story, how that ostensible struggle between democracy and fascism was experienced and interpreted by a large majority of the world’s population. Another Man’s War admirably complicates and deepens our sense of history.’
– Pankaj Mishra, author of From the Ruins of Empire
‘A rich story, richly told. An inspiring instance of common human deceny, handled brilliantly by a writer whose research is as dogged as his touch is fine.’
– Tim Butcher, author of Blood River and Chasing the Devil
‘Another Man’s War is a testament to the kindness of strangers and the power of memory. Meticulous research is matched by profound human emotion.’
– Lindsey Hilsum, International Editor, Channel 4 News
‘Barnaby Phillips has uncovered a tale which touches the world in every sense. The story is a deceptively simple one, of a lanky boy who runs away from his dusty Nigerian village to join the British Army and is left for dead thousands of miles from home in the Burmese jungle. The miraculous sheltering and survival of Isaac Fadoyebo not only make an irresistible human drama. They also illustrate the terrifying global swirl of the conflict. Told with warmth and colour, this account of a forgotten soldier in a forgotten army in a forgotten war will not itself be easily forgotten.’
– Ferdinand Mount, author of The New Few
‘Dramatic, moving, often shocking, painstakingly researched and brilliantly told, Another Man’s War is a story the world should hear, not just so that West Africans may know the part they played in the Burma campaign and in the Second World War, but so that Britain and the world knows it too.’
– Aminatta Forna, author of The Hired Man and The Memory of Love
Get our latest book recommendations, author news, and competitions right to your inbox.
Thank you for signing up, fellow book lover!
Tell us what you like and we'll recommend books you'll love.