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History of Myanmar

Featured Books

* A History of Myanmar Since Ancient Times: Traditions and Transformations
* A History of Modern Burma
* The River of Lost Footsteps: Histories of Burma
* Building the Tatmadaw: Myanmar Armed Forces Since 1948
* Where China Meets India: Burma and the New Crossroads of Asia

A History of Myanmar Since Ancient Times: Traditions and Transformations

A History of Myanmar Since Ancient Times
by Michael A. Aung-Thwin and Maitrii Aung-Thwin
Reaktion Books, 2012

The Republic of the Union of Myanmar is often characterized as a place of repressive military rule, civil war, censorship, and corrupt elections—and despite recent attempts to promote tourism to see the country’s natural beauty, it is not yet a travel hotspot. Most of the Western world remains unaware of the storied history and rich culture found in this Southeast Asian country.

In A History of Myanmar since Ancient Times, Michael Aung-Thwin and Maitrii Aung-Thwin take us from the sacred stupas (structures containing Buddhist relics) of the plains of Bagan to the grand, colonial-era British mansions, finding the splendor that remains in this forgotten country. They delve into Myanmar’s nearly three-thousand-year history, discovering the first traces of civilization that appeared during the Stone Age, witnessing the protests of Buddhist monks during the early twentieth century, and describing the colonial era of British rule and the republic that followed. This book also considers the state of Myanmar today, examining the 2010 elections—the first in over twenty years—and exploring the lives, culture, and ambitions of the Burmese people. The most comprehensive history of Myanmar ever published in the English language, this book makes a significant contribution to our understanding of Southeast Asia.

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A History of Modern Burma

A History of Modern Burma
by Michael W. Charney
Cambridge University Press, 2011

Burma has lived under military rule for nearly half a century. The results of its 1990 elections were never recognized by the ruling junta and Aung San Suu Kyi, leader of Burma’s pro-democracy movement, was denied her victory. She has been under housearrest ever since. Now an economic satellite and political dependent of the People’s Republic of China, Burma is at a crossroads. Will it become another North Korea, will it succumb to China’s political embrace or will the people prevail? Michael Charney’s book -the first general history of modern Burma in over five decades – traces the highs and lows of Burma’s history from its pre-colonial past to the “Saffron Revolution” of 2007. By exploring key themes such as the political division between lowland and highland Burma and monastic opposition to state control, the author explains the forces that have made the country what it is today.

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The River of Lost Footsteps: Histories of Burma

The River of Lost Footsteps
by Thant Myint-U
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2008

What do we really know about Burma and its history? And what can Burma’s past tell us about its present and even its future? For nearly two decades Western governments and a growing activist community have been frustrated in their attempts to bring about a freer and more democratic Burma—through sanctions and tourist boycotts—only to see an apparent slide toward even harsher dictatorship.

Now Thant Myint-U tells the story of modern Burma, and the story of his own family, in an interwoven narrative that is by turns lyrical, dramatic, and deeply affecting. Through his prominent family’s stories and those of others, he portrays Burma’s rise and decline in the modern world, from the time of Portuguese pirates and renegade Mughal princes through a sixty-year civil war that continues today—the longest-running war anywhere in the world.

The River of Lost Footsteps is a work at once personal and global, a “brisk, vivid history” (Philip Delves Broughton, The Wall Street Journal) that makes Burma accessible and enthralling.

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Building the Tatmadaw: Myanmar Armed Forces Since 1948

Building the Tatmadaw
by Maung Aung Myoe
Institute of Southeast Asian Studies, 2009

Ever since Myanmar regained her independence in January 1948, the Tatmadaw (Myanmar Armed Forces) has been crucial in restoring and maintaining law and order. It is one of the most important institutions in Myanmar politics. Various aspects of the Tatmadaw have been studied. The most notable area of study has been the political role of the military. This study looks at the organizational development of the Myanmar armed forces. It analyses four different aspects of the Tatmadaw: military doctrine and strategy, organization and force structure, armament and force modernization, and military training and officer education. It sets out security perceptions and policies, charting developments in each phase against the situation at the time, and also notes the contributions of the leading actors in the process. Since early 1990s, the Tatmadaw has implemented a force modernization programme. This work studies rationales and strategy behind the force modernization programme and examines the military capabilities of the Tatmadaw. Drawing extensively from archival sources and existing literature, this empirically grounded research argues that, while the internal armed security threat to the state continues to play an important role, it is the external security threat that gives more weight to the expansion and modernization of the Tatmadaw since 1988. It also argues that, despite its imperfections, the Tatmadaw has transformed from a force essentially for counter-insurgency operations into a force capable of fighting in limited conventional warfare.

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Where China Meets India: Burma and the New Crossroads of Asia

Where China Meets India
by Thant Myint-U
Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2012

Thant Myint-U’s Where China Meets India is a vivid, searching, timely book about the remote region that is suddenly a geopolitical center of the world.

From their very beginnings, China and India have been walled off from each other: by the towering summits of the Himalayas, by a vast and impenetrable jungle, by hostile tribes and remote inland kingdoms stretching a thousand miles from Calcutta across Burma to the upper Yangtze River.

Soon this last great frontier will vanish—the forests cut down, dirt roads replaced by superhighways, insurgencies crushed—leaving China and India exposed to each other as never before. This basic shift in geography—as sudden and profound as the opening of the Suez Canal—will lead to unprecedented connections among the three billion people of Southeast Asia and the Far East.

What will this change mean? Thant Myint-U is in a unique position to know. Over the past few years he has traveled extensively across this vast territory, where high-speed trains and gleaming new shopping malls are now coming within striking distance of the last far-flung rebellions and impoverished mountain communities. And he has explored the new strategic centrality of Burma, where Asia’s two rising, giant powers appear to be vying for supremacy.

At once a travelogue, a work of history, and an informed look into the future, Where China Meets India takes us across the fast-changing Asian frontier, giving us a masterful account of the region’s long and rich history and its sudden significance for the rest of the world.