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Burmese Refugees: Letters from the Thai-Burma Border Paperback – July 22, 2011
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"Testimony to the struggle and suffering, and enduring hopes, among the refugee population along the Thailand-Burma border." -Ashley South, author of Ethnic Politics in Burma
"This inspiring book draws together the real-life, genuine, first-hand stories of refugees from Burma, in a way that describes why and how they fled Burma, their daily struggles in exile, and their hopes for the future." -Benedict Rogers, author of Than Shwe: Unmasking Burma's Tyrant
"Exiled by a broken country they sought to mend, these voices speak with an immutable spirit; resilient and hopeful. In immense hardship they collectively refuse to recant the belief in a better future for self and country." -David Profitt, founder of Mukana refugee project for South Africa.
From the Author
I was sitting under the thatched roof of last season's rice crop in the school where I kept my office, when one of the younger students in my English enhancement class brought in a stack of crinkled papers...
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I have read countless academic oriented books and articles on Southeast Asia but none of them were able to bring the human element to life like the letters in this short book. In less than 100 pages the people here are able to illustrate just how bad life is for them. Rather than wallowing in misery most of the writers express a vision of hope and new opportunities. These are people that have nothing but their dreams and it seems as though that is all they need to keep them going. T F Rhoden does an excellent job of providing a concise survey of the current political problems in Burma and the resulting refugee crisis. Incidentally I can state with authority on the subject that what he writes is generally accepted knowledge on the area with far more than three sources and does not need to be cited by academic standards as one reviewer complained about). T F Rhoden goes even further with adding context to the end of each of these letters and the book is much better because of it. If you want to get a firsthand account of what I consider to be one of the worst political regimes in the world and a horrible refugee problem than this book is definitely for you.
I did read one negative review that I felt needed to be addressed. Yes there are some editing errors here as this book was self published. Most of these errors are an over reliance on spell check software but do not in any way take away from the substance of the work. The timeliness of the work far outweighs this and if this book was picked up by a "legitimate" publisher I think more would be lost than gained. It also shows that he was more concerned with getting the stories out there than working out a publishing contract.
The other point the reviewer got hung up on had to do with the Mathematics teacher and the quote "She reminded me, if anything, of just your normal modern woman; or I suppose, that is what she would be if she had grown up in a prosperous civil society". The reviewer tries to point out the cultural insensitivity written here. Had she understood anything about this area she would realize how ill informed her comments were. This area is hell and completely uncivilized. The fact that the reviewer makes the leap to "Western" society eludes me as this is never mentioned and shows her own hang ups by making the assumption in the first place. Had the math Teacher grown up with Thai citizenship she would be a modern woman living in a civilized society. Any issues she has with his "ego" are nothing more than her own projections. She does not know the man and I can attest that this is not ego driven by any means. Rhoden is as down to earth as you can get and a person you would most likely want to have a beer with.
Bottom line is if you are looking for a substantive book on the struggles of Burmese refugees put together by someone who is deeply immersed in this region and the issues involved with it read this book, you will not be disappointed. If you are more interested in style and entertainment, and have more hang ups than I care to address here, then stick with the latest Oprah book of the month author because the material covered within will be completely wasted on you.
I am considered poor from U.S. standing on disabilty and a widow. But in real I am so rich. I have a old house,old beat up car shop at walmart for clothes, buy store brands. but I can buy food,clothes,bedding and even eat out at McDonalds once in a while. My girls are in collage trying to decide what they want to be and what to study. We have so many choices if we want to go we can. If I want to move I can maybe not afford everywhere but can afford more and do more than those refugees can. They dream of job,education and freedom are willing to risk lots for those and endure a lot.
Too bad that the math teacher can't teach math in refugee camp or doctor can't doctor. But they are inspireing letters and take their homework and do the best they can and know education and freedom can change their lives and maybe better for their homeland.
I was lucky to be given this ebook for free in exchange for review. Does open my eyes and heart to those refugees around the world.
I've read the authors other works, I've told him in person my opinion of some of those works (some good, some not...to put it succinctly). I wish I could tell him in person how uplifting and inspiring this book was and still is for me to read.
These are stories straight from the fingertips of people who still hold on to hope, and dream about a better life while living as stateless people in shacks reliant on aid from NGOs and separated from their families. But this book is more than hearing from previously unheard and oppressed peoples. It goes a level deeper. It teaches us that the indomitable human spirit is universal, that no matter how bad life can be, we all can hold on to hope.... even in the hill tops of the Burmese/Thai border. So thank you Mr. Rhoden, this book is in my permanent reading rotation.