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Southeast Asia: Fiction and Nonfiction

Melinda McAdams "Mindy"
The list author says: "I lived in Malaysia for 8 months (2004-05) and will be living in Indonesia for 10 months (2011-12). I have been interested in the journalism and politics of this region since the mid-1990s."
The Spice Route: A History (California Studies in Food and Culture)
The Spice Route: A History (California Studies in Food and Culture)
"An excellent history of the lands that produced much of the wealth of Europe from the Age of Exploration up to the Industrial Age -- but it begins long, long before that, with the Arab, Indian and Chinese traders whose ships first plied this route. Economics and conquest make this a deeply interesting story."
The Glass Palace: A Novel
The Glass Palace: A Novel
"This fascinating novel has an Indian vagabond at its center but revolves around Burma and the British colonial armies. Long before Aung San Suu Kyi and today's military dictatorship, the British Indian Army marched into Burma and sent the King and his family into exile. Meanwhile, entrepreneurs (like the book's central character) made fortunes off the linkages among India, Burma, Malaya."
A History of Modern Indonesia
A History of Modern Indonesia
"Wow! I chose this single history of Indonesia based on Amazon reviews; they turned out to be spot-on. Probably the most readable history I've ever held in my hands. I read it cover to cover and found only a small bit (in Ch. 5) to be draggy. Devotes 85 pages to pre-WWII, starting in earnest in the late 1800s. The rest of its 224 pages (not counting end-matter) takes us through the fall of Suharto."
Southeast Asia: Past and Present
Southeast Asia: Past and Present
"An excellent history divided into comprehensive chapters that deal with regions and kingdoms (in the times before World War II)so that we can understand how politics and cultures evolved before the Europeans invaded. Very well written and enjoyable to read. Not stuffy and dull like so many textbooks."
Finding George Orwell in Burma
Finding George Orwell in Burma
"Journalist Emma Larkin (a pseudonym) goes undercover in Burma to trace the steps of George Orwell; the result is a unique first-person account that mixes present-day observations with a colonial context from Orwell's personal experiences there. Enjoyable and enlightening."
The Gods Drink Whiskey: Stumbling Toward Enlightenment in the Land of the Tattered Buddha (Plus)
The Gods Drink Whiskey: Stumbling Toward Enlightenment in the Land of the Tattered Buddha (Plus)
"An excellent first-person account of life in early-2000s Cambodia that combines insights about Buddhism, the persistent grip of the Khmer Rouge, the interventions of Vietnam, the psyche of the Cambodia people, and a relatively humble American's view of it all."
A Fortune-Teller Told Me: Earthbound Travels in the Far East
A Fortune-Teller Told Me: Earthbound Travels in the Far East
"This unusual tale takes us through several Southeast Asian countries (and elsewhere) with an Italian journalist who decided not to fly for one year because of a fortune-teller's warning. He becomes a little bit addicted to having his fortune told, which leads him to some interesting discoveries about different people's beliefs in fate and destiny. A very good read!"
Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam
Catfish and Mandala: A Two-Wheeled Voyage Through the Landscape and Memory of Vietnam
"As a child, the author escaped postwar Vietnam with his family. After growing up in the U.S., he decided to return and make a bicycle trip alone from south to north -- the full length of Vietnam. His journey and his observations make for compulsive reading and provide a unique insider-outsider view into a country that is rushing headlong into development."
The Coroner's Lunch
The Coroner's Lunch
"I resisted this series set in Laos and featuring Dr. Siri, the aged national coroner of post-war Laos in the mid- to late 1970s -- I thought the idea sounded too contrived. But Dr. Siri, his friends, and his colleagues turned out to be delightful,  and I have become a great fan of these atmospheric, entertaining mysteries."
Lands of Charm and Cruelty: Travels in Southeast Asia, 1st Vintage Departures
Lands of Charm and Cruelty: Travels in Southeast Asia, 1st Vintage Departures
"New Yorker writer Stan Sesser wrote these five essays for the magazine in the 1990s -- reporting from Singapore, Laos, Cambodia, Burma, and the jungles of Borneo. The first one alone, about Singapore and Lee Kuan Yew, is worth the price of the whole book -- should be required reading for anyone who travels in Southeast Asia."