From the Land of Green Ghosts: A Burmese Odyssey
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on March 18, 2015
The story of a hill tribe member in Myanmar living through the period of take over by the military. Provides fascinating insights into the situation.
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on February 28, 2015
An engaging, behind-the-scenes look at the years of Burmese repression by a sensitive, intelligent native lad possessed of the dogged determination to both tell his story and overcome the seeming insurmountable challenges of the times. Highly recommended!
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on February 25, 2015
The life of a young man from the Burmese tribe, Padaung, is depicted with vivid memories of his journey from the violent military regime of Ne Win to the prestigious campus of Cambridge. My purpose of reading this memoir was to delve into the insight of a Burmese perspective for my ethnography. An ethnography’s reason is to interpret one’s culture, whether that is through conversing or reading, either way it is the people of that culture that get to speak. The novel was beautifully articulated as Pascal recalled these stained memories with finesse and poise, it is unnoticeable that English is not his first language. His suffrage emitted a presence that embodies the reader with tangible descriptions of his eventful life. To define his tribe, he would describe the women known for their neck rings, “Grandma Mu Kya’s neck was fourteen inches long. It took her a couple of days before she could support her head after she decided to take off her rings for good” (Khoo Thwe 19). When Pascal was reminiscing about his escape into Thailand, it reminded me of a person I met who described a similar treacherous travel, “I found myself caught in the reeds along the riverbank, and lifted my head above the surface. A decomposing corpse swept past me, its stink mingling with that of the other things in the river” (Khoo Thwe 249). Pascal described how he was caught in between a crossfire between the Burmese army and the Thai police at the border. The person that I interviewed for my ethnography described how her parents told her she almost died on that journey from Burma to Thailand. This novel is a beautiful piece that will make the reader gain perspective of a suffrage that is still relevant today.
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on February 20, 2015
This is a story widely available in Myanmar/Burma today. Many there have read it and it is well worth the read especially if you are planning to visit.
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on February 2, 2015
I read this book while on vacation in Myanmar. It's just perfect. The three parts of the book take you through the author's amazing life: from growing up in a remote area of Myanmar, to getting involved in the conflict and finally studying in the U.K. The book is really well-written, an entertaining read with lots of great information about the country and its people. I definitely recommend this book to anyone interested in Myanmar.
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on November 19, 2014
Excellent....thank you.
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on July 15, 2014
Wow!!! While this book begins rather slowly, the author's naïveté and sincerity pulled me into his world, and by the time I had finished it, I felt a kinship with him. This is the story of one man's achievement against all odds. I admire his honesty about all things; his curiosity and unswerving search for answers despite the dangers involved; his perseverance in the face of a virtually impossible struggle; his loyalty to family, friends, culture, country, and values; his dedication to learning for the love of knowledge; and his appreciation of freedom in every sense of the concept.

If I gained nothing else from Thew's story, I gained a sense of gratitude for all of the freedoms that I have, many of which I have taken for granted until now: for example, the freedom to think and to question without fear of reprisal. That Pascal Khoo Thwe deigned to do so in the face of a regime that severely punishes non-conformists makes him a giant among us. But, of course, there is much more to be gained from this book.

The story of the professor and his friends at Cambridge who gave so selflessly to help "an other" by more than simply writing a check but by putting themselves in harm's way to secure his safety, supporting him emotionally as well as physically, mentoring him and guiding him yet standing back to let him make his own decisions serves as a reminder that there are still mighty fine and generous people among us. It may also serve as a template to all who want to help "an other," be it on a micro-level as in working with one's own children or on a macro-level as in this case.

Thew's use of simile adds interest to the read and provides an element of levity that is most likely unintended but makes the book all the more dear. Running with the author through the jungle to escape almost certain death at the hands of government militants, the reader hardly expects to find a river whose riotous current, following monsoon rains, sings with the passion of Janis Joplin. Nor does the reader expect that Thwe will dance like Michael Jackson having a fit when he dons his first-ever pair of shoes.

Just as "Nothing to Envy" gave me insight into the plight of North Koreans, "Green Ghosts" gave me a tiny peak at the lives of those who live in Burma/Myanmar, although with a more intimate look at the culture. I know that it is only by luck of birth that I live in a land where I enjoy freedoms that many others cannot conceive of, relative security, and lack of want. In the Epilogue of his book, Thwe questions the concepts of and forces behind "chance" and" "coincidence." Why is it that life is so easy for some and such a struggle for others and why is it that some believe they live the lives they live because they have earned, or are entitled to, it?

This book should be mandatory reading for all US citizens.
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on July 14, 2014
Great book. Thanks.
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on June 22, 2014
One of the most interesting books I have read about the realities of life in Burma and which I will never forget and certainly read again.
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I grew to admire this young man, but his writing and his description of how he combined his spirituality from his indigenous roots, Christianity and Buddhism. And quite a history of that time.
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