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Burma/Myanmar: What Everyone Needs to Know® Paperback – November 5, 2009

ISBN-13: 978-0195390681 ISBN-10: 0195390687

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Product Details

  • Series: What Everyone Needs to Know
  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press (November 5, 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0195390687
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195390681
  • Product Dimensions: 8.1 x 0.6 x 5.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8.8 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #959,197 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

What Everyone Needs to Know

WHAT EVERYONE NEEDS TO KNOW About This Series

Who it's for:

Busy people with diverse interests, ranging from college students to professionals, who wish to inform themselves in a succinct yet authoritative manner about a particular topic.

What's inside:

An incisive approach to a complex and timely issue, laid out in a straight-forward, question-and-answer format.

Meet Our Authors

Top experts in their given fields, ranging from an Economist correspondent to a director at the Council on Foreign Relations, you can trust our authors’ expertise and guidance.

Popular Topics in the "What Everyone Needs to Know" Series

  • International Politics
  • Environmental Policies
  • World History
  • Sciences & Math
  • Religion & Spirituality

Review

"Steinberg (Asian studies, Sch. of Foreign Service, Georgetown Univ.) is well qualified to shed light in a balanced fashion on the complex issues that plague the country ... [The book's] extended question-and-answer format makes this a handy quick reference source for those wanting to cut straight to the main points. VERDICT This is a top choice for students and those with a probing interest in world affairs. Whatever we call it, we are certain to be hearing more about this country."--Library Journal"[A] pointed briefing."--Foreign Affairs

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Customer Reviews

As the title suggests, this book can serve as a one-stop shop on the country.
Enjolras
Helpful as a quick read, but lacking in the kind of analytic synthesis that a reader has a right to expect from an author.
James Ruggia
All in all, this book is a good introduction and a welcome all-round good book on Burma/ Myanmar today.
Peter Huston

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

36 of 38 people found the following review helpful By Enjolras TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on October 7, 2009
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
[Note: I commented on a draft of this book. The author is a friend of mine, but I have endeavored to keep this review objective.]

Burma has received a lot of attention in the news these past few years, but very few people know much about the country's history or problems. David Steinberg, one of the top experts on Burma, lays everything out clearly in this book. It covers everything from precolonial history to the country's future development challenges. Steinberg also tries to be evenhanded and unbiased (notice the cover, which features both the monks and the generals).

Admittedly, this is a drier, academic book than something along the lines of Thant Myint-U's The River of Lost Footsteps: A Personal History of Burma. This book might not be quite as useful if you've read a thorough book on Burma or follow the country closely, since this book doesn't break any theoretical ground or unveil any new discoveries. However, it is very comprehensive and includes the latest statistics and developments. The book is organized around a set of questions, which makes for easy reference.

I'd recommend it to policymakers interested in Burma or travelers who like to go beyond the headlines. As the title suggests, this book can serve as a one-stop shop on the country.
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31 of 33 people found the following review helpful By Peter Huston on November 30, 2009
Format: Paperback
I've been reading a lot lately on Burma (Myanmar) and found this book to be a good, highly readable introduction to that troubled nation and its conditions, history and culture. I found it quite good and was pleased that a book on this issue was able to make it into bookstores, not just on Amazon.com. I recommend it highly for people seeking such an introduction or with gaps in their knowledge.

Why, then, four stars instead of five? Although Steinberg is a respected scholar of this nation, and I assume therefore a reliable reporter, he doesn't footnote as much as I'd like. Instead he just supplies a list of recommended readings at the end. When reading about a nation with a government this strange, reliable facts, distinct from propaganda, are important. Therefore when Steinberg says, for instance, that the government moved the capital in part due to astrological considerations (page 18) I would like to see a source and he does not provide one. This was especially the case when reading about bizarre economic policies and the ruling junta's constant fears of a highly implausible US invasion. In other words, although Steinberg is respected and may not feel he needs to cite sources, at times when reading about this nation and its ruling junta I felt like I was reading about something so irrational and so out of the ordinary that I needed to know where I could confirm his statements, if for no other reason if someone were to ask me to do so. Although I have read slightly over a dozen books on this nation (many reviewed on this site) and talked to many people from this nation, making me more knowledgeable than most Americans, I am afraid I have a long way to go before I am able to take everything I read in context. Therefore I wish Steinberg had footnoted and cited sources more carefully.
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13 of 17 people found the following review helpful By douglas235 on September 23, 2011
Format: Paperback
David Steinberg's "Burma/Myanmar: What Everyone Needs to Know" is not his worst work. Pitched at the interested layman, it is a mostly factual summary of Burma's recent history. In person, Steinberg is avuncular and charming. In print, he is dry.

For some years past, Steinberg has parched as an academic although much (most?) of his career has been more along the lines of an administrator in government funded NGOs: USAID, The Asia Foundation. In this book, as in all his publications on Burma, Steinberg advocates that the US government adopt policies to promote development projects and investment rather than sanctions or the promotion of democracy.

It would be unfair to accuse Steinberg of sympathy for the generals who run Burma's regime but he has adopted a sort of "if you can't beat 'em" rationale for getting in bed with them.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Paul S on January 21, 2011
Format: Paperback
I've read quite a few books on Myanmar, having traveled there for 2 months over 2 trips. I can't think of a one that taught me more than this one. Full of fascinating facts and policy arguments that are well put. The book is essentially poli sci academic, but very easy to read due to the approachable writing style. Fascinating, and I ended up highlighting most of the book!
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By zouga on August 15, 2012
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
A very comprehensive and thoughtfully written documentary and provides an excellent insight into life in Burma over recent times. This is not a novel, but a factually based book, but is full of important information.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Marcwojo on June 16, 2012
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Probably a must for those who want to understand what is going on in Myanmar. As always, the simple explanations we get from "the news" (all modalities included) have no value if you really want to know. I read this because I wanted to know and found it enlightening. However, the author is very repetitive and somewhat biased.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By James Ruggia on December 5, 2014
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Not really a book, but a list of very educated opinions. Helpful as a quick read, but lacking in the kind of analytic synthesis that a reader has a right to expect from an author.
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3 of 5 people found the following review helpful By Richard Stampfle on October 3, 2010
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The longest rebellion in the modern world still operates there. In his opening statement Steinberg admits that: "It is sad and also embarrassing to admit honestly that one cannot offer an early way out of the present set of crises [in Myanmar]"

David Steinberg has one very convincing argument that Myanmar is yet another civil war that the USA has no need to be involved with. A radical change of US foreign policy is called for, if it is not to continue the failed strategy of the past with regard ex-colonial countries that have moved toward nationalism.

Steinberg's excellent book fully covers Myanmar's crises, their causes, and solutions applied by civilian and military governments. It covers internal insurgencies as well as external foreign policy manipulation. Most Americans will be shocked to learn that the government and many people in Myanmar truly believe the US Government intends to invade their county! Steinberg says: "Fear of consipiracies (even invasions) by foreign powers or elements against the leadership have made Burmese leaders both wary and skeptical about the motivations of foreign governments toward the state and its leaders. This is reinforced by previous foreign attempts to destabilize governments and rulers and support of dissident ethnic/political groups. These nationalistic tendencies are only magnified by derogatory foreign comments about the regime, its goals and its leaders. Fear of foreign domination may contribute to the suspicions about Aung San Suu Kyi, who is supported by the Western foreign community".

Even considering Steinberg's impartial and fair handling of all parties to the crises of Myanmar, it is difficult to see lasting solutions to the issues.
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