An illumining look at a country torn between two emerging superpowers.
Former UN diplomat Myint-U (The River of Lost Footsteps: A Personal History of Burma, 2006, etc.) takes readers through his home country in this mixture of travelogue and history. The author begins by discussing the rising powers of China and India, and then turns to the small country caught in the middle, which has served as a buffer between these two countries for centuries. With crisp, clear, authoritative prose, Myint-U chronicles his journeys from Rangoon to Mandalay, explaining the complex culture and history of the Burmese. Aware that most Western readers will not be overly familiar with the history of his country, the author takes great pains to explain the most basic details of Burmese history and geography without being patronizing. From the unfinished Burmese civil war to their wars against the British, Myint-U successfully conveys how Burma’s past has affected what it has become. The author then turns to China and India, journeying to the areas closest to Burma. He provides comprehensive insight into Burma’s precarious situation, as well as an understanding of its possibilities for the future. He leaves readers pondering the implications of a democratic Burma and how that might affect the Sino-Indian rise to power in the region.
In a whirlwind tour through Burma’s history, politics, culture and geography, Myint-U makes a successful case for its importance in South Asia’s future.