The Forgotten Army

India's Armed Struggle for Independence 1942-1945
Peter Ward Fay
The first complete history of the Indian National Army and its fight for independence against the British in World War II.


The last days of the Raj bring to mind Gandhi's nonviolence and Nehru's diplomacy. These associations obscure another reality: that an army of Indian men and women who tried to throw the British off the subcontinent. The Forgotten Army brings to life for the first time the story of how Subhas Chandra Bose, a charismatic Bengali, attempted to liberate India with an army of former British Indian soldiers--the Indian National Army (INA).

The story begins with the British Indian Army fighting a heroic rearguard action against the invading Japanese down the Malaysian peninsula and ends with many of these same soldiers defeated in their effort to invade India as allies of Japan. Peter Ward Fay intertwines powerful descriptions of military action with a unique knowledge of how the INA was formed and its role in the broader struggle for Indian independence.

Fay incorporates the personal reminiscences of Prem Saghal, a senior officer in the INA, and Lakshmi Swaminadhan, leader of its women's sections, to help the reader understand the motivations of those who took part. Their experiences offer an engagingly personal counterpoint to the political and military history.

Peter Ward Fay is Professor of History, California Institute of Technology.

Praise / Awards

  • "Written engagingly in a conversational (and occasionally discursive) style,informed throughout by great sympathy for the men and women of the INA, Fay's book deserves to become the standard account of the subject."
    --American Historical Review
  • ". . . one of the most interesting, well written, and significant monographs I have recently encountered in the field of modern Indian historiography. . . . [A] decidedly original and stimulating addition to the field."
    --Canadian Journal of History/Annales canadiennes d'histoire
  • ". . . a well-crafted and thought-provoking mixture of oral history and original research, providing the most comprehensive account yet published of the events leading to the formation of the INA."
  • "Few research-based monographs have been penned with such an engaging elegance. . . . a felicitous combination of substance and style. . . ."
  • "In the standard histories of World War II military operations in Southeast Asia, the 40,000-strong Indian National Army (INA)led by Netaji Subhas Chandra Bose . . . under Japanese sponsorship, gets brief mention, if not a mere footnote. . . . Fay has offered the first detailed account of the formation and operations of the INA during 1942-45. . . . A welcome addition to existing literature on the subject, the work is a well-researched and written book, particularly in its use of personal diaries and interviews with Prem[nath Saghal] and Laxmi [Swaminadhan]."
    --Journal of Military History
  • ". . . [A] lucid and compassionate book. . . . Fay presents the most balanced account yet written of the political and military aspects of the INA. . . . [T]he book tells the INA's story with a style and verve too often missing in historical writing."
    --Journal of the South Asian Studies Association
  • "This fine study of the Indian National Army (INA) seeks to demonstrate this army's significance in the attainment of Indian independence and the termination of the British Empire. . . . Throughout, Fay seeks to explain why 'constant and true' Indians like Sahgal and Swaminadhan chose to fight alongside the Japanese and against the British . . . ."
    --Pacific Affairs
  • "Fay has made a magnificent attempt to analyse all the credible information on the history of [Subhas Chandra] Bose's legendary Indian National Army (INA)."
    --Times Higher Education Supplement
  • ". . . a very interesting book. . . . excellent."
    --War in History

Product Details

  • 6 x 9.
  • 584pp.
  • 12 photographs, 8 maps.
Available for sale worldwide

  • Paper
  • 1995
  • Available
  • 978-0-472-08342-8

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  • $39.95 U.S.