The Great Flap of 1942 by Mukund Padmanabhan

The Great Flap

The Great Flap of 1942 is a narrative history of a neglected and scarcely known period—between December 1941 and mid-1942—when all of India was caught in a state of panic. This was largely a result of the British administration’s mistaken belief that Japan was on the verge of launching a full-fledged invasion. It was a time when the Raj became unduly alarmed, when the tongue of rumour wagged wildly about Japanese prowess and British weakness, and when there was a huge and largely unmapped exodus (of Indians and Europeans) from both sides of the coastline to ‘safer’ inland regions. The book demonstrates, quite astonishingly, that the Raj cynically encouraged the exodus and contributed to the repeated cycles of rumour, panic and flight. It also reveals how the shadow of the Japanese threat influenced the course of nationalist politics, altered British attitudes towards India and charted the course towards Independence.

‘The Great Flap’an expression used by British bureaucrats in India, traces a broad narrative arc starting with the Japanese attacks in South-east Asia. The assault on Malaya, the conquest of Singapore, the bombing and eventual occupation of Burma, and the Japanese Navy’s foray into the Indian Ocean are examined in light of the tremendous impact they had on India.

‘A superbly well researched, tightly constructed and beautifully written exploration of an almost forgotten chapter in the history of the Second World War. The Great Flap of 1942 is a brilliant recreation of a particular time and place, effortlessly pinned to the page in stylish, witty and evocative prose. Mukund Padmanabhan, long regarded as one of India’s most admired journalists and editors, has now emerged from that chrysalis to reveal himself as a new superstar of Indian narrative non-fiction’


‘A magnet of a masterpiece, Padmanabhan’s book pulls into its field the filings of veracious history, the bewitchment of a great story and the lure of the finest prose. I have rarely been so gripped, so totally captivated by any book on war and its mine-clogged realms in human folly’


‘In The Great Flap of 1942, Mukund Padmanabhan has produced a gem of a book, telling not only a little known story, but packing it with the most astonishing details. Briskly paced, always interesting, and—despite its fraught settings—capable of inspiring more than a few chuckles, The Great Flap is both a page-turner and a well-researched slice of military and political history. I enjoyed the book thoroughly, from the first page to the last’


Title: The Great Flap of 1942

Author: Mukund Padmanabhan

Available: Amazon

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