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Where China Meets India: Burma and the New Crossroads of Asia Hardcover – September 13, 2011

4.6 out of 5 stars 23 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews


[A] blend of personal reminiscence, history--enlivened with an eye for the telling anecdote--travelogue and polemic. (The Economist)

[Where China Meets India] possesses a heartfelt and welcome optimism, giving voice to a desire for connections that exceeds all notions of foreign policy, geopolitics or business and becomes, instead, about people encountering each other in all their glorious difference. (Siddhartha Deb, The Guardian)

Thant Myint-U makes clear in Where China Meets India [that] Burma's days as a neglected backwater are over. (Tim Johnston, Financial Times)

This is probably the best book written on Myanmar after 1988. It is a must-read not only for diplomats, political analysts and CEOs of multinationals but also for readers who enjoy racy narrative, fascinating accounts of a bygone era, of Shangri-La, kings and generals, intrigue and heroism, the Tarons, remnants of the only known pigmy race in mainland Asia, and the lives of common people in some of the remotest parts of the region in and around Myanmar. (Bhaskar K Mitra, Business Standard)

Thant's knowledge of Burma's history, peoples, cultures, and kingdoms brings focus to his travels through the area. The constant interplay between his experiences and knowledge of the region make this book a gem, with myriad rare insights. (Publishers Weekly)

An illumining look at a country torn between two emerging superpowers . . . In a whirlwind tour through Burma's history, politics, culture and geography, Myint-U makes a successful case for its importance in South Asia's future. (Kirkus Reviews)

Interweaving the history and geography of Burma (Myanmar) with a travel memoir, Thant (The River of Lost Footsteps: A Personal History of Burma) narrates the compelling story of his journey through this rapidly evolving region rich in culture and heritage . . . A highly readable and entertaining foray into the complex history of this ancient land, this book will be of interest to lovers of history and travel writing. (Allan Cho, Library Journal)

'Asia' is already the 21st century's most contested term. For some it represents a block comprising most of the world's population, for others a region rife with historical rivalries. In this engaging narrative, Thant Myint-U shows us how Asia is still under construction, with new ports, canals, railroads and passageways are knitting together a continent. Most interestingly, these new Silk Roads enjoin the world's two most populous nations, China and India, via Burma, a land of incredible diversity and promise, but also despair and risk. If the presumed geopolitical rivalries in Asia are to be averted, it will be by following Thant's road-map. (Parag Khanna, author of The Second World: Empires and Influence in the New Global Order and How to Run the World)

Where China Meets India is a rare find, an ambitious, comprehensive work that is at once entertaining and illuminating by a leading scholar on Burma. (Andrew Pham, author of The Eaves of Heaven: A Life in Three Wars)

About the Author

Thant Myint-U was educated at Harvard and Cambridge Universities and later taught history for several years as a Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge. He has also served on three United Nations peacekeeping operations, in Cambodia and the former Yugoslavia, as well as with the United Nations Secretariat in New York. He is the author of a personal history of Burma, The River of Lost Footsteps.


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 384 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First Edition edition (September 13, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374299072
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374299071
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.4 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (23 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #814,213 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
Burma may be almost completely cut off from the West as a result of sanctions imposed against its military government but while the United States and its allies have been ignoring this relatively small, impoverished country it has been undergoing great change in recent years due to its geographical position between China and India, both of which are intent on expanding their influence. This is the main theme of Where China meets India, a new book by Thant Myint-U, the grandson of former UN secretary general U Thant. Thant's concerns are vastly different than those that preoccupy most American media covering Burma. He doesn't devote too much attention to the repressive policies of the government or Aung San Suu Kyi, the Nobel Peace Prize winner and darling of the Western press. Instead he tries to give us a real portrait of the country, its people and the changes that are occurring there.

The book combines travel writing, history and current events. The author spent the majority of his time in the regions of Burma that border China and India. His analysis of the situation in Lashio, the northeastern province of Burma bordering on China's Yunnan province is fascinating for what it tells us both about changes in Lashio and Chinese ambitions in the region. He finds that the Chinese are slowly but surely bringing globalization into the region by building roads, extending electricity grids and penetrating the area's porous borders. Thant also looks at Indian interests in Burma but generally seems to believe that India has been less successful at expanding economically there than China. He believes that Burma seems destined to fall under the Chinese sphere of influence because the United States and its allies are not sufficiently interested in the country.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Thant Myint-U made is name as one of the more popular historians of Burma with his book The River of Lost Footsteps: A Personal History of Burma. That book was well written and Where China Meets India: Burma and the New Crossroads of Asia follows along in that path.

The best part of the book is that it combines a history of Burma with travelogues from Northeast India and Southwest China. As Thant Myint-U observes, these regions are both important for Burma yet often get left out of the conventional accounts of Burma. He argues that Burma's future is tied to its geography and that Burma's place in between the rising giants of India and China will dictate its economic development.

This book is a great read for armchair travelers or readers just getting interested in Burma. However, if offers less to Burma watchers or readers intimately familiar with the country. Anybody who reads Irrawaddy or Democratic Voice of Burma regularly will be familiar with the portion on Burma. The sections on India and China might present new material, but are somewhat shallow in comparison. Especially in China, Thant Myint-U doesn't seem to have any particular expertise or familiarity. In fact, I think in retrospect those sections would have benefitted from co-authors more familiar with those regions.

A cautionary note is in order. This book was published in September 2011, only 3 months ago. However, events in Burma have moved quickly. Burma's new government has made several decisions that upset China, while at the same time Hillary Clinton visited in December. While it's probably too far to say that this entire book is obsolete, the conclusions and forecasts probably are. That's certainly not Thant Myint-U's fault, but readers should be aware.
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A very valuable book that projects the future of Burma as the country emerges
from its shell. After more than sixty years of sleep Burma awakes to find itself ripe prey for the two huge powers flanking it: China and India. As China drives a wedge through Burma to connect itself to the Indian Ocean, India considers how to get its piece of the Burmese pie and how to blunt China's growing proximity.
The Burmese generals have stepped slightly into the shadows for appearance sakes. In the dim they can better manipulate the huge profits to be reaped from the competing resource hungry transnationals and foreign state enterprises.
The author weaves a convincing blend of history, travel and analysis to arrive at his thesis that Burma will become the perfect victim of the geopolitical storm raging about it. No country so critically located as Burma can resist the
development tsunami represented by the 2.6 billion combined population of China and India, not to mention the European and North American demand for a few crumbs.
The author is qualified to tell the story. The grandson of UN Secretary General
U Thant, educated at Harvard and Cambridge, seasoned by international work in the Balkans and Cambodia, well connected by blood to the Burmese intelligentsia, he is the perfect observer to predict where his country is heading. He attempts to be optimistic. After all, anything is better than the cruel, paranoid, xenophobic past half century of Burma's history. However it is a double edged sword. As the vultures season the flavor of this succulent morsel to suit their rising appetite one may soon bid farewell to the storied lotus, and prepare to confront the modern robot, as typified by dams, pipelines, petrochemical plants, super highways, free trade zones and skyscrapers.
Such is progress!
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