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War of the Running Dogs: Malaya, 1948-1960 Paperback – April 1, 2007

4.7 out of 5 stars 25 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

About the Author

Noel Barber is the author of Lords of the Golden Horn, Sinister Twilight, and Tanamera.
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Product Details

  • Series: Cassell Military Paperbacks
  • Paperback: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Cassell (April 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0304366714
  • ISBN-13: 978-0304366712
  • Product Dimensions: 5 x 0.9 x 7.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.1 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (25 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #664,561 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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By R. M. Peterson TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on May 20, 2011
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
"Running dogs", in this context, was the Communist epithet for the British, or the police, or, more generally, anti-Communists. ("Dog" is an insult in China, and "capitalist running dog" became a favorite Maoist curse.) "The War of the Running Dogs" was the Communist insurgency in Malaya, which lasted from June 1948 to July 1960, first against the British protectorate and then, after August 1957, against the newly independent Federation of Malaya.

The War of the Running Dogs is now little-known in the United States, in large part because here it was eclipsed first by the Korean War and then by Indochina. It should be better known. Among the Communist/nationalist insurrections of South-east Asia of the 1940's and `50s, the Malayan one arguably had the greatest strategic significance, given the geopolitical importance of Singapore. Second, unlike what happened in Indochina, in Malaya the Communist challenge to Western democracy was repelled. And third, in doing so, the British developed and employed principles of counter-insurgency that contrasted with how the French and Americans proceeded in Viet Nam.

In THE WAR OF THE RUNNING DOGS, British journalist Noel Barber tells the story of the Malayan insurrection in a lively, moderately journalistic fashion. On a few occasions he underscores the contrasts between Malaya and Viet Nam, insinuating that the British were smarter than were the Americans (but without ever really discussing what the differences between the two situations might have been).

The Communist insurgency was a guerilla war, waged by at most 5- to 8,000 "liberation" troops operating out of jungle camps.
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I was hesitant about purchasing this book but there really is nothing out there on the Malayan insurgency. What makes this even worse is that this is the most often cited counter-insurgency success, and there is nothing written about it. So unfortunately there seems to be no one that knows why it was a success. Here is where this book comes into play, and a good reason to purchase the book.

The book does a wonderful job on breaking down all the players in this war, what they did and why. He also looks at the different ethnicities and their motivations for supporting the Communists or British. I have to disagree with the other reviewer this book was a wonderful read and not boring at all, even for a history book. I found myself wanting to know what was going to happen next (i.e. it was addictive to read).

On the negatives, this book was written in the '60's (so a little dated), and it is written with an nostalgia tone of the old imperial Britain and its greatness. It ruffled my feathers a bit in the begging but later he tries to correct this tone and for the time period the author really goes out of his to make a case for the other people that were living in this country at the time, their plight and living standards.

Overall this book does a wonderful job showing why the counterinsurgency in Malaysia was a success. It is unfortunate the circumstances that brought this book back into circulation, but it is a forgotten work that deserves to be recognized for its contribution to the counterinsurgency, insurgency, terrorism and Malayan history. A very good read.
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Noel Barber's fantastic book, one
of the absolute best on counterinsurgency,
ever, is a profound explication of one of the
historical truths of guerrilla war:
In guerrilla war, political superiority defeats military superiority.
The Chinese communists never could have prevailed--the Brits forged
a strategy for victory in guerrilla war in Malaya from day one
that reinforced the already-formidable political power which the
Malay Muslims had from jumpstreet.

The many bold, pragmatic lessons won in blood in Malaya from 1948-1960
are laid out left, right and center in this great book, which should
be required reading at West Point, the US Naval Academy, the US Air Force
Academy, the Coast Guard Academy, and at every war college.

It is also just a damn fine read, and would be a welcome addition to any
History Department and English Department, worldwide. Bravo, Noel Barber.

long life and blue skies,
Mike Tucker
Counterterrorism Specialist and Author
Logar, Afghanistan 18 April, 2009
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THIS IS ONE OF THE BEST BOOK THAT I READ ABOUT THE WARS AGAINST THE REDS IN POSTWAR SOUTHEAST ASIA.
IN EARLY 1942 THE JAPANESE INVADED MALAYA,WHICH WAS NOT A FREE COUNTRY BECAUSE IT WAS UNDER THE
BRITISH YOKE NO MATTER ALL THE BENEFITS THR BRITISH RULE BROUGHT TO MALAYA.
THE BRITISH TO FIGHT THE JAPANESE ALLIED THEMSELVES WITH THE MALAYAN REDS MOSTLY OF CHINESE ORIGIN.
THE MPAJA (MALASIAN PEOPLE ANTIJAPANESE ARMY) WAS COMANDED BY CHIN PENG.
IT WAS A COSTLY MISTAKE , AFTER 1945 WHEN JAPAN SURRENDERED, THE BRITISH TOOK CONTROL , HOWEVER THEY
CREATED AN ENEMY INFINITELY MUCH WORSE.THRER YEARS LATER THE REDS STARTED A BLOODY WAR THAT
LASTED TWELVE YEARS;FORTUNATELY FOR MALAYA AND THE FREE WORLD THEY WERE DEFEATED BY THE
COMBINED EFFORT OF BOTH BRITAIN AND THE MALAYS OF THE 3 MAIN ETHNICS GROUPS (MALAY.HINDU AND CHINESE).
THIS BOOK GIVES A VERY DETAILED EXPLANATION OF ALL THE ACTORS INVOLVED IN THIS CONFLICT.
IN 1957 MALAYA OBTAINED INDEPENDENCE ON BRITISH TERMS NOT ON COMMUNIST TERMS.
STILL THE BRITISH BEAR PART OF THE RESPONSABILITY FOR THIS BLOODY CONFLICT,BECAUSE OF THE MISGUIDED SUPPORT OF THE
REDS OF THE MPAJA FROM 1942 TO 1945,SOME OF THE MPAJA LEADERS WENT TO LONDON TO PARTICIPATE IN THE VICTORY,OR SHOULD I SAY THE PHYRRIC VICTORY DAY.
THE MAIN LESSON FROM THIS WAR IS THAT THE ENEMY OF MY ENEMY IS NOT ALWAYS MY FRIEND BUT IT COULD BE A MUCH WORSE ENEMY.
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