The Virgin Soldiers (1969)

Excerpt from Ben Slater’s blog –

““It rained a lot, and steamed when the sun shone. It was always hot. But it was safe.” 
A few weeks ago Leslie Thomas died. He was a relatively prolific novelist producing a book a year for a long time, but, as the obits made clear, best known as the author of The Virgin Soldiers, a fictionalised account of his years as a conscripted private stationed in Malaya, and more specifically, Singapore between 1949 and ’51. This was the early phase of the ‘Malayan Emergency’ when British forces fought viciously with anti-colonial, pro-communist guerilla squads who’d shifted from being a local resistance against the invading Japanese (trained and armed by the Allies) to terrorists determined to ‘free’ Malaya from the British. It’s a conflict little represented in fiction before or since. The literary precursors to Thomas’s book were Anthony Burgess’s Malayan Trilogy in the late 50s, and Michael Keon’s The Durian Tree in ‘59, filmed in 1964 as The Seventh Dawn, a forgotten attempt to render the Emergency as a big-budget war epic. None of these would have the popular impact of The Virgin Soldiers.”
Read more here.

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