Cover of Losing Hearts and Minds by Kate Imy
Losing Hearts and Minds
Race, War, and Empire in Singapore and Malaya, 1915–1960
Kate Imy


July 2024
342 pages.
from $32.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9781503634626
Paperback ISBN: 9781503639850
Ebook ISBN: 9781503639867

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Losing Hearts and Minds explores the loss of British power and prestige in colonial Singapore and Malaya from the First World War to the Malayan Emergency. During this period, British leaders relied on a growing number of Asian, European and Eurasian allies and servicepeople, including servants, police, soldiers, and medical professionals, to maintain their empire. At the same time, British institutions and leaders continued to use racial and gender violence to wage war. As a result, those colonial subjects closest to British power frequently experienced the limits of belonging and the broken promises of imperial inclusion, hastening the end of British rule in Southeast Asia.

From the World Wars to the Cold War, European, Indigenous, Chinese, Malay, and Indian civilians resisted or collaborated with British and Commonwealth soldiers, rebellious Indian troops, invading Japanese combatants, and communists. Historian Kate Imy tells the story of how Singapore and Malaya became sites of some of the most impactful military and anti-colonial conflicts of the twentieth century, where British military leaders repeatedly tried—but largely failed—to win the "hearts and minds" of colonial subjects.

About the author

Kate Imy is a historian and screenwriter, and the author of the award-winning Faithful Fighters: Identity and Power in the British Indian Army (Stanford, 2019).

"This brilliant book provides a humane, nuanced, and profoundly moving history of the British empire's wars in Asia from 1915–1960. By centering the voices of participants, Kate Imy deftly explores how race and gender shaped both civilian and combatant experiences, offering thought-provoking perspectives on the world wars, the British empire, and the resilience of populations responding to sustained violence."

—Susan R. Grayzel, Utah State University

"Losing Hearts and Minds is an innovative blend of social and military history that examines how race, gender, and ethnic identities shaped the British army in a colonial setting. This deeply researched, beautifully written book brings to life the tensions within a multi-cultural military, when lines blurred between soldiers and civilians, and nationalist loyalties clashed with imperial subjecthood."

—Lynn Hollen Lees, University of Pennsylvania