“Merdeka is an excellent first novel from an exciting new author about the Malayan Emergency - a forgotten war and an emerging theme for contemporary fiction.” 
               The British Army Rumour Service (ARRSE) - Read the full review

“This is a crisply told tale with a strong narrative line and a cast of well-drawn characters.” 
                Trevor Royle - Broadcaster and Author, specialising in the history of war and empire.

"Merdeka is a military book that smoothly finds the balance between love, history and warfare."
       - Read the full review


Review posted on Twitter by John Leo on 22nd February 2022
It's a fantastic read, thoroughly absorbing and very well written indeed
…. A gripping combination of excitement, colour, feeling and sensitivity. 
Lachlan’s great uncle was Neil Gunn so literary talent obviously runs in the family! 
Reading the ‘About the Author’ page, it’s apparent that Lachlan is uniquely placed to tell this story.
….. The evocative sense of place and the attention to detail could only come from someone who knows the authentic Malaya/Malaysia and who has served his country in various different spheres….
…. I’m clearly no literary-critic but the reviews I’ve read of ‘Merdeka’ have been consistently excellent. 
I certainly agree and personally highly recommend it

Review received from Nigel St George on 7th June 2012:
'Merdeka' at sea
Dear Lachlan,
I have been meaning to send you this photo for ages.  I was reading your book whilst travelling between KL and Penang, then Langkawi and on to Phuket. 
The photo was taken whilst actually reading your book whilst at anchor off Phuket.
A great read and made all the better by being in Malaysia.

Below are extracts from reviews of 'Merdeka, posted on Amazon.  Read the full reviews on

ATMOSPHERIC, Dec 2016 (A review by "Steve B" on
Story of a young Scots officer pondering what he wants out of life, set against the sometimes brutal background of the Malayan communist insurgency. This novel fully reflects the rich variety of themes provided by the subject matter- even a hint of the supernatural without which no story set in Malaysia would be complete. Lachlan Gunn is not a broad brush writer. Everything is presented in meticulous detail, which is how he creates an intensely realistic atmosphere (although the dialogue is modern). Even my old school gets a mention! In his new career path with the Gurkhas, Alick can look forward to plenty of action in the jungles of Borneo and I look forward to reading about them...

Captures 1950s Malaya perfectly, 7 Dec 2015 (A review by "Douglas McWilliams" on
For anyone brought up in Malaya in the 1950s this is a wonderful trip down memory lane. For anyone else it is an exciting action adventure with a love story thrown in as well.

Thought the short Introduction was one of the best summaries of the situation in Malayasia pre 1948 that ..., 9 Aug 2015 (A review by "chris" on
First class...Thought the short Introduction was one of the best summaries of the situation in Malayasia pre 1948 that I have read....C.Robinsw

including the wonderfull love affair. I recomend this book to all who ...,  Feb 2015 (A review by "H. Whitehead" on
This is an excellent book I served in Malaya during the emergency and reading this book made me relive it all again ,including the wonderful love affair. I recommend this book to all who are interested in the emergency years.(the so called forgotten war)

Worth it,  Feb 2015 (A review by "D. McBride" on
It was a captivating read, I had no idea what the book was going to be like but found the plot gripping.

Really enjoyed it,  19 Jan 2015 (A review by "Al" on
A book of three parts: first, preparation for action by both sides (with just a bit too much detail in places for my taste, eg: every item of kit detailed, what order people get into and out of the helicopters, etc); second, the action itself and the immediate aftermath; third, a love story.
Put like that, it does not sound like my cup of tea but they all hang together well and I really enjoyed it.
Well written; good pace; good character development; good background on the communist insurgency and how it was dealt with; good descriptions of the country and weather.
Looking forward to more from this author. is a very good story and describes the situation well 27 Nov 2014 (A review by "action man" on
As someone who was in Malaya at the time about which this book was written it is a very good story and describes the situation well. I liked the way each side's actions were described as the plot unfolded. A good read.

A Superb Book  26 Jul 2014 (A review by "Hisboss" on
I chose this book because I had spent two years living in Brunei and had had the opportunity of travelling around Malaysia and loved the experience.
  Lachlan Gunn has written this story beautifully. I was a bit slow in getting into the plot but once I did I was totally captivated. I imagined myself in the jungle getting nowhere fast. Again, something I have done. The way the author describes the noise , the heat and the leeches, and the cat and mouse situations of the hunters and hunted.
  This is such a moving story which plays with your emotions, and highlights the sadness in the loss of life for a belief.  My heart bled for Alick and what he went through, his PTSD, his struggle with his emotions, and his personal life.
  This is a beautifully written book, done with great thought and empathy. The most thought provoking book I have read this year!

A gripping read 16 Mar 2014 (A review by "J S V B Harrison" on
for a first time novel, beautifully researched providing a real feel for the far east and leaving the reader wanting more

The war that wasn't officially a war...., ....for reasons of insurance. 3 Aug 2013 (A review by "Linda Bahnan" on
I enjoyed this book from the clever start, in which the events were cunningly foretold, to the classic ending, which was never a cliché. Straddling the date of Malayan Independence (Merdeka), the reader sees events unfold through the eyes of certain players on the ground. It is a story of humanity in inhumane circumstances. The quality of the writing in the depiction of the characters enables the reader to see all sides of the conflict sympathetically.
   I bought this book because I have a personal interest in the story and the period of history as my father was killed in the conflict. He was a pilot in the RAF and his body has only recently been found. I went to Kuala Lumpur last year when there was an interment and a memorial service.
   The author is related to well-known Scottish writer, the late Neil Gunn, and has clearly inherited his writing skills. I look forward to reading more from this author and do not hesitate to recommend this book to lovers of history, war stories, thrillers and romance.

Well researched and a good read 28 Apr 2013 (A review by "ted9658" on
Very enjoyable tale about a neglected period of colonial history and suffused with a love of the "far east" and the old British Army. Took me back to my old childhood as a service brat in Singapore.

Interesting read 16 Mar 2013 (A review by "diebus" on and
"Merdeka" by Lachlan Gunn is a well researched and informative novel about Malayan Independence and Communist terrorists in the country, told through the eyes of some of the British soldiers at the time, some of which have befriended the locals. It explains well the background of the military operations and goes into great detail about those operations. A great read.

Well researched and very entertaining 12 Dec 2012 (A review by "Ian Dee" on
Almost a historical novel, but it is well presented and a very good read. Thoroughly enjoyed it, and looking for more.

Merdeka, 28 Nov 2012 (A review by "Robert Grant Stewart" on
Just brought back memories of the actual conflict in which I served,The author really knows the history of the so-called state of emergency

A Really Good Read, 29 Jun 2012 (A review by "WicklowLass" on
I wouldnt normally be drawn to books on combat but I really enjoyed Merdeka and found it very hard to put down. It has some really interesting characters and enough intrigue to keep the pages turning. It gives you a good insight in to the mind of a soldier/fighter who has to move between the harsh world of fighting one day to the more normal day to day world another. It also makes the jungle come alive and has really peaked my interest in perhaps visiting Malaysia some day.................

Malayan Adventure, 7 Jun 2012 (A review by John Angus on
This is a first-class read. The author has clearly researched very thoroughly, and demonstrates an impressive, passionate grasp of the history of the Emergency, the British Army and its part in it, the Malayan geography, people and their culture. Thus all culminates in a compellingly realistic and gripping tale. I particularly enjoyed the chase through the Malay jungle following the ambush, and the final denouement was tense - but you will have to read it yourself to find out what happened!............

A good read, 8 Mar 2012 (A review by Lynne Duncan on
Despite my complete military ignorance I got into this book and especially enjoyed the parts described through the eyes of the hunter and the hunted as they move through the Malaysian jungle. That jungle sounds amazing and the writer takes you deep into it. This historical, action novel is written with intelligence and compassion for both sides:- male, female, Malay and British.

A really super book, 26 Feb 2012 (An extract from a review by "moi 1953" on
I thoroughly enjoyed this book. Knowing nothing about the Malayan problems, I was worried at the start that it may be a bit heavy going, but I found myself identifying with the characters and really wanted to know what was going to happen to them. I felt quite bereft when I came to the end and hope that the author will write a sequel!
The sensitivity that he brings to the main character meant that I really cared what happened to him which kept me turning page after page.
It has the unusual quality of having something for both men and women, action and sensitivity, so I am sure that we will hear more about this author in future..................

A gripping read from start to finish, 15 Feb 2012 (A review by John Handling on
A gripping read which is up there with the many best sellers I have read over the years. The descriptions of the Malaysian Peninsula are amazing. I want to go! The characters are superb. I was particularly pleased that the main character is not your stereo-typical, gungho type. He is much more than that with hints of post traumatic stress following the ......... (you just have to read it). I sincerely hope we hear from Alick again.

A book well worth reading, 30 Jan 2012 (Extract from a review by Sandra Nicholson on
For anyone with any interest in Malaysia, this book is a must-read book. It is set during the Malaysian Emergency-a forgotten but honourable colonial war.The author takes great care to be very accurate about historical details and this makes the whole story feel very authentic. It is clear that the author has also spent time in the Far East as he conjures up the country so well. The jungle scenes where much of the action takes place are particularly well drawn.The beautiful descriptions of the Malaysian peninsular and Penang made me want to book a flight to Kuala Lumper immediately!.....

Merdeka, 6 Jan 2012 (Extract from a review by Dane McNeil on
Merdeka, a novel set at the time of the granting of independence to Malaya, is a compelling and interesting read. In the earlier psrt of the book there are wonderul descriptions of the jungle - reminiscent of the Far Eastern novels of Joseph Conrad...............

A Good Read, 2 Jan 2012 (Extract from a review by Patricia on

Once I got into the narrative I found that it was a fast moving very gripping tale - difficult to put down............

Merdeka is a book well worth the read, 5 Dec 2011 (Extract from a review by Blondie21 on and

Merdeka was recommended to me by a friend. Initially I thought it was going to be a book for the boys! Not so.....yes there is plenty of action, but there is also a real depth of feeling and sensitivity to the characters...........