The River of Lost Footsteps: Histories of Burma

The River of Lost Footsteps Histories of Burma For nearly two decades Western governments and a growing activist community have been frustrated in their attempts to bring about a freer and democratic Burma through sanctions and tourist boycotts on

  • Title: The River of Lost Footsteps: Histories of Burma
  • Author: Thant Myint-U
  • ISBN: 9780374163426
  • Page: 316
  • Format: Hardcover
  • For nearly two decades Western governments and a growing activist community have been frustrated in their attempts to bring about a freer and democratic Burma through sanctions and tourist boycotts only to see an apparent slide toward even harsher dictatorship But what do we really know about Burma and its history And what can Burma s past tell us about the presenFor nearly two decades Western governments and a growing activist community have been frustrated in their attempts to bring about a freer and democratic Burma through sanctions and tourist boycotts only to see an apparent slide toward even harsher dictatorship But what do we really know about Burma and its history And what can Burma s past tell us about the present and even its future In The River of Lost Footsteps, Thant Myint U tells the story of modern Burma, in part through a telling of his own family s history, in an interwoven narrative that is by turns lyrical, dramatic, and appalling His maternal grandfather, U Thant, rose from being the schoolmaster of a small town in the Irrawaddy Delta to become the UN secretary general in the 1960s And on his father s side, the author is descended from a long line of courtiers who served at Burma s Court of Ava for nearly two centuries Through their stories and others, he portrays Burma s rise and decline in the modern world, from the time of Portuguese pirates and renegade Mughal princes through the decades of British colonialism, the devastation of World War II, and a sixty year civil war that continues today and is the longest running war anywhere in the world The River of Lost Footsteps is a work both personal and global, a distinctive contribution that makes Burma accessible and enthralling Thant Myint U, educated at Harvard and Cambridge, has served on three United Nations peacekeeping operations, in Cambodia and in the former Yugoslavia, and was recently the head of policy planning in the UN s Department of Political Affairs He lives in New York City.

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      Published :2018-09-05T18:01:09+00:00

    1 thought on “The River of Lost Footsteps: Histories of Burma”

    1. This is without a doubt the best introduction out there to Burmese history, and possibly the best introduction to Southeast Asian history in general. It is a 'personal history', written for general consumption, by one of the world's leading historians of Burma, and is a magnificent book in both a popular and academic sense.In this book, Thant Myint-U sets out to remind us that Burmese history did not begin with Aung San Suu Kyi, did not begin with Ne Win's military coup in 1962, did not begin wi [...]

    2. Admittedly, I first picked up this book because I'm a Burmese American. While this is clearly the most accessible history of Burma, I think what I liked about it the most was that it was a history of a mid- to small- sized multicultural power sitting between larger forces (China, India, Britain, Japan). While there are quite a few books on the big powers and how they interact, this book is fascinating in that it looks not only at how smaller powers navigate, but also how small events in large po [...]

    3. When I first went to Myanmar, it was via the one-hour, dirt-cheap Air Asia flight to Yangon, and to go from aggressively shopping malled and Starbucked Bangkok to the dusty ruins of colonial Rangoon in an hour's time is a jarring experience to say the least.The question, then, is how did Myanmar fall that far behind so much of the rest of East Asia? Thant Myint-U is out to demolish a number of widely held myths, but he starts much earlier, with the slow nibbling to death of the Burmese Empire, i [...]

    4. Probably the first book about my own country that I read. Personal but at the same times Thant Myint-U tries to make is historically correct - as best he can, I guess because I heard some people saying that some of the facts are not accurate (I was too naive to pay attention to those details when I first read though).

    5. Before I read this book, I knew little to nothing about Burmese history. Although Mr. Thant Myingt-U obviously has a masterful grasp of his country's history and makes an admirable attempt to guide the reader through Burmese history from its mythical origins right up to the tragically futile monk protests in 2007, I still feel as if I know functionally nothing. That may be because there are too many minor details thrown out, especially regarding trifling royals and unimportant battles in unimpor [...]

    6. Fantastic read from start to finish. Burma is so much more than Daw Aung San Suu Kyi. This book presents a pragmatic historical account as to how and why Burma ended up in its tragic state (although current situation is clearly better now). From the innately war-prone ancient monarchs, the British invasion, the Japanese invasion, the Indian immigration, the complex dynamics of ethnic groups, and to the rise of the (still strong) Military junta. This is a must-read for anyone that has keen intere [...]

    7. Burma has long been in the news. After the most recent cycle of uprising-crackdown, I looked for a book that could give me some historic and political background for this country that has so often attracted the world’s attention, if not its interest.Incredibly enough, finding such a book is not easy. Most books about Burma are travel guides, or have some sort of George Orwell connection. This book, written by U Thant’s grandson, is probably the best introduction to Burma you can find. Howeve [...]

    8. My sister and I visited Myanmar this past year and this was one of 2 books in the Durham County Library on Burma. The other was by Aung San Suu Kyi. This is the story of Burma's history written by U Thant's son. It is rather dry and I did not finish it. In 1885 at the encouragement of the business class in England Winston Churchill's dad Lord Randolph decided that Britain needed to take over Burma in order open it's markets to British goods and to make a back door to China for the same purpose.T [...]

    9. This book is elicited by questions: "why has Burma's military dictatorship proved so enduring, and what can possibly bring back greater political freedom and democracy? How should we think about the continuing war between Rangoon and ethnic minority-based insurgencies? Why has Burma, so rich in natural resources and seemingly once so well ahead of its Asian neighbors, fallen so behind? More to the point, what is to be done?". The author tries to answers these by looking at history. He makes the [...]

    10. The River of Lost Footsteps is nothing if not ambitious. Thant Myint-U tries to tell essentially the entire recorded history of Burma while also telling the history of his prominent Burmese family. Unfortunately, Thant bit off more than he could chew.Any good history book doesn’t limit itself to a strictly chronological narrative, but The River of Lost Footsteps jumps around both far too much and with little apparent rhyme or reason. This is apparent from the start. Thant starts with a preface [...]

    11. Trudging down the road of lost footsteps again a very complex road no doubt but touche to Myint-U for his effort in his attempt to tell us the story of his motherland. Bordered by two mighty empires in the north-east and north-west, impressive array of kingdoms in the east and sea routes of pirates, ancient mariners and foreign naval powers along the south, I can appreciate the violence that have pervaded this country that we have come to know as Myanmar today. This is my first reading of Burmes [...]

    12. Excellent, highly readable and enjoyable overview of the country formerly known as Burma. My number #1 recommendation when a friend asks for an introductory book on Myanmar. One correction: The correct date for the Portuguese travel writer Duarte Barbosa is the 1500s, not the 1600s. (He was the brother-in-law of Ferdinand Magellan and died in the Philippines on May 1, 1521--one month after Magellan.)An additional recommendation: Not a book, but an excellent DVD I've just watched that I want to r [...]

    13. There are two ways to review this: as a book about history, or as a history book. As a book about Myanmar's history, it's a terrific introduction to the country, from the early kingdoms to the present day (or the book's present day anyway, which is 2006 -- so the recent, dramatic democratic changes are not included). Thant Myint-U ably mixes a scholarly (but not dry) recounting of that history with his own family stories (his grandfather was UN Secretary General U Thant, a founding father of mod [...]

    14. A somewhat rambling account of Burmese history which gets somewhat more coherent and readable starting from the events of the disbanding of the Burmese monarchy in the late 1880s. Published in 2007, before the recent thawing in Burmese politics.The author a few mistakes when describing some aspects of the Chinese, Mongol and Indian influencers on Burmese history and, overall, is unable to put down a coherent narrative; some aspects are explained in too much detail, for others all relevant detail [...]

    15. Traces the entire history of Burma from its founding, countless border wars and incursions with its neighbors, through the british colonisation, ww2 and up to post independence. Well written and did not feel draggy at all, although I stopped at post ww2 since modern history I feel is less interesting. A nation with a heritage of conquest to be proud of, thus explaining to a large extent the strong militaristic traditions to this day.

    16. For most in America, Myanmar is an unconsidered place. Stuffed between Thailand and the Indian subcontinent, these days it is most known for its violent internal conflicts and for the lost hope of democracy championed by Aung San Suu Kyi. The country has an astonishing history. The geography is a puzzle of marshes, plains, valleys, and mountains. In places, ethnic groups from mutually unintelligible language groups live in near isolation. In the main Irrawaddy delta, the Burmese people dominate, [...]

    17. Thant Myint-U, the grandson of U-Thant, who headed the United Nations for many years, grew up speaking both Burmese and English. This fluency is reflected in his writing. THE RIVER OF LOST FOOTSTEPS eloquently presents his family history, the history of Burma, and the story of recent political shifts and turmoil. He is able to present history as dramatic stories made up of vivid scenes. In the year 2000, when Burma was still under the thumb of the military dictatorship, I spent some time there. [...]

    18. Clearly need to have some interest in Myanmar to read this, but if you do you'll be richly rewarded. The more distant history through much of the beginning can be a little dry, yet he does a good job of pointing out how this history influenced modern day Myanmar. The pace picks up a bit from WWII on. If you're going to read a book about the country, I think this is a great place to start. The author's connection to the country, grandson of the Secretary General of the UN, and current advisor to [...]

    19. U Thant Myint-U's writing style kept me wanting to continue reading and learning about Burma's history. It is especially worthwhile to read the book until the point of the military junta - it's clear, succinct and interesting. I had troubles following up after that as the story was less direct and rather divided in more parallel stories - but that's due to the complicated history - Burma's civil war, military rule and democratic revolutions all happened in parallel. Overall a great introduction [...]

    20. A very interesting book to discover the history of Myanmar. A little difficult to get into it at first but as the History unfolds, it gets easier to follow. Even though it is not always written in chronological order, Thant Myint U does a great job at putting all the facts in perspective and showing us the reality of a country too often overlooked. A particularly great read before diving into the country full head!

    21. Great book with clear write up. Finished it during my trip in Burma and it’s super helpful. Helps me to understand this war torn country better. U can definitely tell the authors deepest love and care of his home country

    22. Excellent read to understand Myanmar and the conflicts within it today. My only complaint is that there isn't enough of that insightful analysis towards the end of the book in the rest of the book.

    23. Got the book before a trip to Myanmar, hoping for something better than a travel guide and with a wider historical lens than Orwell’s “Burmese Stories”, and was pleasantly surprised with the outcome. In contrast to most books on Burma which fixate on last 60 years and the role of Aung San Suu the “River of Lost Footsteps” provides a broad historical sweep from 200AD to modern day and paints an abject lesson in failed empire building.Burma’s history is often overshadowed by its neighb [...]

    24. ok, where do I have to start? This book is the best book I have read about Burma. It includes the history before the time and ends at the today conflicts. From the time when Burmese becomes and to the today Burma's political dilemma. Every Burmese should read this book. It really will give the readers, the true history about Burma, like why the civil war broke out, reason behind the suppression of military regime, about our Bogyoke Aung San,about playboy General Ne Win, a devout buddhist and fir [...]

    25. Written by the grandson of former UN Secretary General U Thant, this is a fascinating, well-written, and readable history of Burma - I recommend it for anyone with a interest in Burma, British colonialism, general Southeast and South Asian history, Japan's influence on the region through its WWII aggressions, the counterproductive effect of Western sanctions on the region's political stability and human rights issues, and a wide variety of other related subtopics. I only have three complaints - [...]

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