He swore an oath to King and Empire, but they forgot him.
At age sixteen Isaac Fadoyebo ran away from his West African village to join the British Army. The Second World War was raging, and Nigeria's colonial masters were desperate to find men to defend the Empire.
He was taking breakfast deep in the Burmese jungle when the Japanese ambushed his unit and left him for dead. With the help of a local family he survived, but in every other way Isaac was forgotten, all the more so as Nigeria struggled to come to terms with newfound independence. Yet Isaac could not forget the debt he owed to the Burmese family, now trapped in a simmering sectarian conflict.
In Another Man's War, veteran foreign correspondent Barnaby Phillips delivers the gripping, unforgettable story of a Burma Boy in the Second World War and the legacy of the British Empire in Africa and Asia.
Pre-publication endorsements for Another Man's War
"Barnaby Phillips has written a magnificent book. It is an enthralling human story of soldiers whose sacrifice has been too long neglected. He brings to his subject a sharp intelligence and a true writer's eye. This book deserves to become a classic of war history".
Fergal Keane, BBC Correspondent, author of Road of Bones
'A rich story, richly told. An inspiring instance of common human decency reaching beyond colour and creed, handled brilliantly by a writer whose research is as dogged as his touch is fine. Reading Another Man's War will add hugely to any person's understanding of how the Second World War was fought and, just as importantly, how it was presented. Superb.'
Tim Butcher, Author of Blood River and The Trigger
From start to finish the reader’s heart belongs to Isaac Fadoyebo and the West African soldiers. 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
'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, former editor, Times Literary Supplement
'Barnaby Phillips has written a fine account of the forgotten African soldiers who fought in WW2. Another Man's War is a testament to the kindness of strangers and the power of memory. The denouement of Isaac's absorbing story - spanning three continents and seven decades - is deeply moving. Meticulous research is matched by profound human emotion.'
Lindsey Hilsum, International Editor, Channel 4 News
"A riveting narrative that traces Africa’s crucial yet forgotten contribution to the Second World War. Through the experiences of one Nigerian soldier in Burma, Phillips provides insights into military strategy while taking the reader on an emotional journey, giving a fascinating glimpse into life and race relations in the British Army, as well as comradeship and human endurance. Brimming with facts, anecdotes and pathos, this page-turner is indispensable for anyone interested in military history and Nigeria’s socio-political transformation in the mid-20th century."
Noo Saro-Wiwa, author of Looking for Transwonderland
"The hard-won victories of the Second World War define British identity to an extraordinary degree. Travelling from Africa to Southeast Asia, Barnaby Philips 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
Two young West African soldiers shipped half 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, reconstructed here in gripping detail, end with a postwar sequel when the younger of the two returns to Nigeria, itself also precipitately abandoned by its colonial masters to survive a painful and precarious independence without preparation or support. A real-life thriller with sobering implications for the British reader – but I found it impossible to put down.
Hilary Spurling, biographer of Pearl Buck and Matisse
About Another Man's War:
The documentary from which the book evolved: