Asia Books is a chain of bookstores in Thailand with a good selection of books on Asian topics, books that are often difficult to find in Europe (even when searching on Amazon). I always look forward to browsing through the different sections because I know that I will likely find some new books.
Having read a number of books about Myanmar lately, among others several by Bertil Lintner, a Swedish journalist with an in depth knowledge on Burma, I now found two other excellent books about Myanmar: one by Andrew Marshall and one by Emma Larkin. These two books had been published already several years ago, but unfortunately I had never come across them.
In Finding George Orwell in Burma, Emma Larkin travels in the footsteps of George Orwell and tries to locate the places where he once lived and worked. Her excellent description of today’s Burma, her travel observations and her reflections on the past and present, coupled with flashbacks on Orwell’s life and personality make this book a real treasure trove.
Andrew Marshall also traces the footsteps of a person, who once lived in Burma, but who is much less well know to the public: Sir George Scott. The diary of this tough Victorian gentleman, who helped establish British colonial rule in Burma, guided Marshall to places which Scott explored, and where he once lived and worked. The Trouser People describes Burma’s colonial past and in an excellent way Burma’s cruel modern dictatorship.
Two other really good books, which vividly describe Burma’s past history and present are
The River of Lost Footsteps: A Personal History of Burma and Where China Meets India: Burma and the New Crossroads of Asia by Thant Myint-U. Both of these books make it also very clear how large China’s influence and interest has been and is in respect to Myanmar – despite the embargoes imposed by western countries.
Both books are easy to read and keep the reader fascinated from start to end. But – they also provoke strong emotions given the ugly colonial times and the seemingly never ending suffering of the Burmese people. I really recommend reading some of these books before setting out to admire Myanmar’s beautiful ancient temples.