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The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, Volume 1

The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, Volume 1 Book Review

By David L. Veres

Date of Review April 2021 Title The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971, Volume 1
Author Ravi Rikhye Publisher Helion
Published 2020 ISBN 9781913118631
Format 82 pages, softbound MSRP (GBP) $29.95


Helion commemorates the 50th anniversary of Bangladesh’s fight for independence in Volume 1 of The Indo-Pakistani War of 1971 – 18th Helion’s excellent “Asia@War” range.

Available in North America from Casemate, the compact chronicle covers the nasty, brutish, and short conflict in 11 chapters over 82 picture-packed pages.

Author Ravi Rikhye kick-starts coverage with four background chapters recapping national histories, principal personalities, ethnic issues, economic considerations, and international dimensions.

India proved the “vastly superior opponent” against Pakistani assets in both west and east. And contents deftly detail force disparities between the combatants on the eve of war.

Rikhye’s combat commentary spans chapters 5 through 10. And while coverage centers on ground operations, text also recaps air and naval actions.

The lavishly illustrated effort sports dozens of photos. Twenty-two excellent color plates – military vehicles by David Bocquelet, uniforms by Anderson Subtil, and aircraft by Tom Cooper – provide potent project potential. And maps put campaign commentary into geographic perspective.

A final section offers “conclusions”. Tables, sidebars, extended captions, and a glossary supplement the study. And a selected bibliography and endnotes neatly wrap things up.

Gremlins, however, stalk this otherwise commendable chronicle.

Is it, in multiple instances, “Rehman” or “Rahman”? I say “Rahman” – but Rikhye employs both – sometimes on the same page. That’s also Richard M. Nixon – not “Richard B. Nixon”.

Moreover, as tempting as it sounds from personal experience, I strongly dispute that ignoring one’s superiors is “what every good officer should do” – as Indian Maj Gen JFR Jacob reportedly did.

If so, why even ponder if, “regardless of [Pakistani] GHQ’s orders” Lt Gen Amir Abdullah Khan Niazi might have withdrawn forces to Dacca, leaving readers “to wonder whether it is possible to court-martial anybody for refusing to disobey his lawful orders”.

None of these and other nitpicks irreparably diminishes this solid study. And I eagerly await Volume 2.

I just hope Rikhye includes details of “bomb-ejectors” on Indian No 44 Sqn An-12 bombers!

With thanks to Casemate for the review copy!