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on January 17, 2016
I've been a frequent visitor to Myanmar for the past 5 years, and have watched with interest its transition from the country Emma Larkin has described to one that is now catching up with the region around it. It's a beautiful and fascinating place. I also finally got around to reading Orwell's Burmese Days, and I can understand Ms Larkin's effective approach of interweaving this view of a world long gone, but not very pleasant when it existed, with Orwell's other two almost written for Burma-as-was books - 1984 and Animal Farm. She also relates Orwell to specific places in Myanmar, many of which I've visited, or will visit now that I know the Orwell connection. While her characters, the people she interviews, are almost all opposed to the military government, this probably reflects several facts that would have been relevant when she wrote the book: most of the population probably opposed the government at the time (as the recent elections seem to have confirmed), she was working more or less incognito, although apparently followed at almost every step by the Military Intelligence agencies, and the government did not interact with authors or journalists.
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on August 20, 2016
This is a well written beautiful book. I loved this book! The author used George Orwell's writings about Burma as a canvas to her present-day travels in the same country, now known as Myanmar. Having read George Orwell other books, I really appreciate this book. Even if you haven't read any of Orwell's other books, you will still come away with a grand new appreciation for how people cope living under dictatorship. Go read it!
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on July 18, 2016
This book has more than met my expectations - it has exceeded them. Emma Larkin has done her research. And she did it before she went to Burma. She has looked at the full Burmese experience, from the standpoints of the ordinary Burmese, the victims of violence perpetrated by the brutal military junta, the equally-brutal British empire, and before, to the (British) bureaucrats who ran the country in Orwell's time and until they packed up and left, as well as that of a visiting foreigner.
Rarely does one come across a better-written travelogue, so well researched, so rich in detail, so descriptive of experiences, and so complete in the space it took to write in it. Hats off to Ms. Larkin.
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on August 23, 2013
This is a very useful and informative narrative for anyone interested in George Orwell or his ideas. The authors ability to define Orwell's Burma experiences and put them in to context is done extremely well. Modern Burma is the definition of Orwell's fears of a government out of control ruthlessly oppressive. The authors courage traveling Burma and documenting The relationship between Orwell and the people there is a great achievemennt. I really enjoyed this book and highly recommend it.
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on May 14, 2017
i loved it! while traveling in burma... it's nice this about kindle and one click purchases... you can search about the subject you're living in. and who doesn't like orwell? and burma? just nice to read about the 'back the scenes' of the life of the great orwell!
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on August 28, 2016
The author explored many paths that I had and many more that I could not, so her narrative carried me on the latter with a riveting, cross-cultural perspective of George Orwell. There were fascinating descriptions and historical perspective from a brave traveler indeed. Reading the book made me want to retrace her steps as well as my own. If I do, then perhaps I will rewrite my own novel about Burmese days.
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on February 7, 2012
Emma Larkin (not her real name) went to Burma to follow, kind of, in the footsteps of George Orwell (not his real name). How did being stationed as a police officer in Burma shape his future? How was being part of the machinery of the state change the person he was into the author he became? How much of Burma is in Anaimal Farm, 1984, and other stories by him?
I learned ALOT about George Orwell's early life and was, frankly, kind of shocked to learn about how well, sometimes, he fit in with the rest of the Imperialists. Or was he just pretending to fit in?
Many details of her search, such as names of people, had to be changed. And I am sure she had to hold back a lot of information to protect people, even after changing their names, but it did feel a tad dangerous to even print the book. After all, if the government KNEW where she was at all times, could they not use that data, the times, the places, the areas she was in to track down the people she interviewed? Kind of scary.
While I would suggest reading Gorge Orwell's works I would also check out Burma Chronicles which gives you another report about life in Burma. In graphic form.
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on December 26, 2014
While preparing to take an extensive trip to Myanmar this past year I acquired a number of current and Classic books on Burma to get the lay of the land. George Orwell's masterpiece brought to life the world of English ExPats in colonial Burma under the British rule. The detail of the lives of foreigners living in a place and time rapidly changing beneath their feet made my imagination run wild. There are lessons to be learned from Orwell that naive neo colonialists and political scientists should study about life among folks not quite like you.
A powerful look at people and communities.
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on May 26, 2006
Well the book exceeded my expectations in every way. It does provide a good deal of really fascinating information about Orwell and his adventures in Burma as an agent of the British Empire, but it does a lot more than that. It is a brilliant travel book that describes in beautiful prose the towns and countryside of central Burma. More significantly it describes the political nightmare that has afflicted Burma since the days of Ne Win (1962). The author follows Orwell's postings as a police officer in Burma and provides fascinating descriptions of the places he was stationed and more interestingly presents wonderful stories of the people now living in those places. This book is undoubtedly banned in Burma because it presents a devastating account of the repressive and corrupt rule of the Burmese Army over the last 40 odd years. Yet I think the author is both fair and accurate in describing present day Burma.

The author of this book is a remarkable person in his or her own right. "Emma Larkin" (a pseudonym) is a unique American who has actually taken the time to learn to speak and read Burmese. Written Burmese is based on Sanskrit and looks to the uninformed, like myself, as a serious of small circle or half circles tied on lines. Anybody who can read it certainly has my admiration. Further `Larkin's' affection for Burma and the Burmese is obvious and as a result the book provides a very sympathetic picture of the people of central Burma. My one disappointment in the book is the author spends very little time discussing the non-Burmese hill tribes (Shan, Kachin, etc.), but that wasn't the intent of the book. This is a wonderful book about as little known and reclusive country by a well informed and perceptive observer.
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on February 11, 2013
I downloaded the book on the Kindle and read it while in Myanmar 2013. I was expecting more of a historical account of Burma during Orwell's time and about his family's connection to the country. The book uses Orwell's writing to describe some of that period but mostly focuses on modern political history. I was disappointed that documented conversations with those people who lived and remembered Burma before the current regime did not include more historical information about pre 1950 history. Its easy to read and recommended for anyone travelling to the country who is interested in the current state of affairs (although its a bit out of date even with the 2011 update). While in Myanmar I purchased Burmese Days and saw copies of 1984 and Animal Farm sold on the streets.
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