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Book News
Burma: a Nation at the Crossroads
by Ben Rogers
Published by Random House:
London, June 14, 2012.
ISBN 9781846043468.
Amazon price: 10.30

A wide-ranging study of Burma's conflicted history, and of its ethnic and political problems. As the pace for change quickens in Burma, hopes are raised of more freedom and justice, but the future remains uncertain. The author, a tireless human rights campaigner, has made more than 40 visits to Burma's borders and to Burma itself.
NB: a REVIEW by Robert Gordon
An impressive, glossy photographic compendium of more than 250 former political prisoners intended to raise awareness of colleagues still suffering in jail. The author/photographer has spent more than three years compiling this tribute, each former prisoner being photographed, hand raised in Abhaya mudra (gesture of fearlessness), and displaying on their palm the name of a current prisoner, together with the story behind each person represented. A moving testimony to the many brave Burmese people bearing witness against oppression.
NB - Review by Bo Bo Lansin.
Abhaya: Burma's fearlessness by James Mackay,
foreword by Aung San Suu Kyi.
Published by River Books,
Amazon price: 16.46.
Myanmar: Burma in Style, an Illustrated History & Guide
by Caroline Courtauld
Published by Odyssey Books & Maps: Hong Kong.
358 pages,
168 colour photos, city plans and maps.
ISBN 978-962-217-832-8.
Amazon price: 16.16.

With Burma experiencing a tourism upsurge, the publication of this richly illustrated guide by a veteran Burma-phile writer-photographer is most timely. It provides a good introduction to the country's history, culture, politics and people, and an up-to-date guide to the country's essential sites, with some practical information on top hotels and restaurants. NB - Review by Patricia Herbert. .

An entrancing book which will appeal to all those who lived in Rangoon or have visited it over the years, guaranteed to inspire readers to walk around the city's streets and view its handsome colonial-era buildings with new insight and knowledge of their past. The buildings featured were selected by the Association of Myanmar Architects (AMA) and range in age from the now derelict Pegu Club (1872) to the art-deco Chartered Bank (1941).
NB - Review by Patricia Herbert.
30 heritage buildings of Yangon: inside the city that captured time
by Sarah Rooney Published by Serindia & AMA: Chicago, 2012.
166 pages
coloured illustrations;
glossy paperback.
ISBN 9781932476637.
Amazon (hardback) price 25.
Where China meets India:
Burma and the New Crossroads of Asia.

by Thant Myint-U
Published by Faber & Faber
358pp - maps - bibliog.
Hard back, 20.00
ISBN 978-0-571-23963-4.

A wide-ranging study of [country];'s conflicted history, and of its ethnic and political problems. As the pace for change quickens in Burma, hopes are raised of more freedom and justice, but the future remains uncertain. The author, a tireless human rights campaigner, has made more than 40 visits to &country]'s borders and to Burma itself.
NB: a REVIEW by Patricia Herbert
Half a million forgotten refugees from a forgotten war, in 1942 the British in Burma struggled to escape the swift, ferocious onslaught of the Japanese army and reach the safety of India across the North Western border of Burma. The sudden and unexpected invasion caught many unprepared, and they faced an appalling journey on foot through mountains and swamps, leaving behind their homes and possessions in the idyllic country nicknamed the Golden Land, while British and Indian troops fought in vain to halt the enemy.
NB: a REVIEW by Diana Millington
Exodus Burma:
The British Escape Through The Jungles of Death 1942

by Felicity Goodall
Published by The History Press: Stroud, Gloucestershire.
239 pages; hardback; maps; ills; bibliog.
ISBN 978 0 7524 6092 5.
Paper back - ISBN: 0701184087
18.99 or discounted to 17.09 if ordered online from:
The Lady and the Peacock
by Peter Popham
hard back
446 pages
from Rider
ISBN-13: 978-1846042485
(also available in paperback)

By far the best biography to appear to date of Burma's most famous and inspirational contemporary figure, Aung San Suu Kyi. The author, a foreign correspondent for the Independent, has interviewed an impressive range of family members, friends and associates of Aung San Suu Kyi. The author was first able to meet "the lady" herself in May 2002 and again - just before completing the book - in March 2011.

NB: there is a review by Derek Brooke-Wavell.

In this magnificent paperback volume art historian Donald Stadtner brings a new dimension to existing studies of Burma by unravelling the labyrinth of myths and legends surrounding the foundation and origins of Burma's sacred sites. Stadtner presents not just Burma's top three sacred sites - namely the Shwe Dagon, the golden rock Kyaik-hti-yo, and the Mahamuni Temple in Mandalay - but an immense spectrum of holy places, even including non-Buddhist sites.
NB - Review by Patricia Herbert.
Sacred Sites of Burma
Myth and Folklore in an Evolving Spiritual Realm
by Donald M. Stadtner
Published 2011 by River Books, Bangkok
Paper back - 348 pp.
Maps, illustrations, bibliography
ISBN: 978 974 9863 60 2
October 2009
State of Vaccination:
The Fight Against Smallpox in Colonial Burma (New Perspectives in South Asian History)

by Atsuko Naono
Published by Orient Blackswan
Hard back, 30.00
ISBN: 978-81-250-3546-6

This is a scholarly work by Atsuko Naono of the University of Warwick, on the campaign of vaccination against smallpox that was instituted by the then British rulers of Burma in the first 35 years of the 20th Century. Vaccination was by then a correct procedure to implement - but the tropical climate and 'bad lymph' caused all sorts of difficulties that had to be surmounted.

NB - Review by Dr. Desmond Kelly, MD, FRCP, FRCPsych:

The latest novel by this well-known Britain-Burma Society member.

It is the poignant story of Na Ga - whom we first meet returning, via China, to the homeland of her Burmese minority people, after being rejected by her American boyfriend in Thailand. This is a girl whose fate has always been in the hands of others - from well-meaning Americans to Chinese middlemen to Bangkok pimps. And what is to become of her? Return holds no promise, and the future no future.

April 2010
The Road to Wanting
by Wendy Law-yone
Published by Chatto & Windus

Paper back - ISBN: 0701184087

Amazon Price: 7.74

NB: a REVIEW by Derek Brooke-Wavell

Burma/Myanmar: What Everyone Needs to Know
by David I. Steinberg
9.99 paper back - 256 pages
from Oxford University Press
ISBN-13: 978-0195390681

This succinct analysis of a complex country of many contradictions is arranged in 8 Sections (covering crises, pre-colonial residues, legacy of colonial period, independence and civilian government, the military coup and socialist period, the SLORC/SPDC era). Steinberg's guide to the present situation is presented as a response to over sixty question headings, eg: How do the Burmese people today view the colonial era? How did the Chinese Nationalist incursion affect Burma? What were the effects of the 1947 constitution? What were the May 1990 elections about? What is the role of Buddhism in Burma today and what is its relation to political legitimacy? NB: there is a review by Bo Bo.

This is the author's tribute to her parents. Set between 1885 and 1989 it tells the story of Charles and Marjory Garrad. He was a scholar; both suffered greatly, but found happiness in each other - and, eventually, in the strange beauty and wonderful people of Burma, where he accepted the challenge of translating the entire Bible from the original Greek and Hebrew directly into Burmese.
NB - Review by Joanna Smith.
Under Running Laughter -
Burma - the Hidden Heart
by Liz Anderson
Published (May 2009) by Matador
Paper back - 292 pp.
ISBN: 1848760671
Burmese Painting: A Linear and Lateral History
by Andrew Ranard
hard cover - 378 pages
A4 size; 175 painters and 300 colour plates.
59.00 from Amazon - or available to Britain-Burma Society members at the discounted price of only 44.00 + 3 p&p, from Nick Esson of Combined Academic Publishers, 15A Lewin's Yard, East Street, Chesham HP5 1HQ, Tel (0)1494 581 601

ISBN: 974951176X
NB: a REVIEW by Wendy Law-Yone


This claims to be the first comprehensive history of Burmese painting from the Pagan period to the present. Not just pictures, but analysis of the art, the psychology and the history that gave rise to it, The author (a Society member) says Burma is unique for its amazing juxtaposition of painting styles from different periods of evolution, like the fauna of the Galapagos Islands
Much has changed in Burma since this weighty text book was first published in 1987. The latest version is totally revised, updated and expanded, and has new chapters covering the last 20 years of Burmese history.
Prof Taylor looks at the current regime through a continuity stretching back to pre-colonial kings; he discusses how forces have contended and how the military government has handled them.
Feb 2008
The State in Myanmar
by Robert Taylor
Published by Hurst & Co.
338 pages
Paper back: ISBN: 1850658935.
Hard back: ISBN: 1850659095.
NB: a REVIEW by Dr Michael Charney
Almost Englishmen:
Baghdadi Jews in British Burma;

by Ruth Fredman Cernea
paper back - 202 pages
Publisher: Lexington Books, U.S. (28 Jan 2007)
ISBN: 0739116479
Book obtainable in UK from Lexington Books, Book Network Int'l Ltd., Estover Road, Plymouth PL6 7PY. Price: 15.99

'Baghdadi' Jews are those who moved east, from origins in Iran, Persia, Syria etc. Before the war, while some were attracted towards Palestine, others gravitated to the British empire. Many settled in Burma. Anthropologist Ruth Cernea here traces how, by the time they fled before the Japanese advance in 1942, their culture and aspirations had become changed towards a more British model.
NB: a REVIEW by Patricia Herbert

The first book to be published in English on the Pa-O ethnic group - most of it up to date, and including history and politics. The author, Russ Christensen, is a former US officer with sympathies for the Pa-O rebels' long struggle against the Burmese army.
Oct 2006
The Pa-O: Rebels and Refugees
by Russ Christensen and Sann Kyaw
Publisher Silkworm Books (Chiengmai).
Paper back, 81 pages, bibliography, index, notes.
ISBN: 9749575938
NB: a REVIEW by Gerry Abbott
The Kinwun Min-Gyi's London Diary
introduction and translation by L.E. Bagshawe
29.00 hard back - 434 pages
from Orchid Press
ISBN: 9745240214

In 1872, between the Second and Third Anglo-Burmese Wars, a minister of the Burmese court travelled to Europe and was received with fascination by monarchs and high society in every country he visited. This is his diary of the trip. NB: here is a a brief review by Patricia Herbert. Also a much more comprehensive appraisal by the same reviewer is in our Members' Area.