100 books like Golden Earth

By Norman Lewis,

Here are 100 books that Golden Earth fans have personally recommended if you like Golden Earth. Shepherd is a community of 9,000+ authors and super readers sharing their favorite books with the world.

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Book cover of From the Land of Green Ghosts: A Burmese Odyssey

Rory MacLean Author Of Under the Dragon: Travels in a Betrayed Land

From my list on Myanmar from someone who has traveled throughout it.

Who am I?

Rory MacLean is one of Britain's most innovative travel writers. His books – which have been translated into a dozen languages — include UK top tens Stalin's Nose and Under the Dragon as well as Pravda Ha Ha and Berlin: Imagine a City, "the most extraordinary work of history I've ever read" according to the Washington Post which named it a "Book of the Year". Over the years he has travelled throughout Burma – apart from when banned by the military government for his writings – coming to know it as a deeply-wounded and fractured golden land of temple bells, be-medalled generals who enrich themselves through drug deals and ever-optimistic men and women who fight on to restore its ‘democratic transition’.

Rory's book list on Myanmar from someone who has traveled throughout it

Rory MacLean Why did Rory love this book?

"Nearly every night I dream of the Shan State, of Mandalay, of the jungle. The landscapes of my dreams resemble real ones, yet they shift like images on silver screens…" Pascal Khoo Thwe’s mesmerizing biography stretches from his grandmother’s creation stories to civil war and a chance conversation about James Joyce which leads to a new life in Britain. A minor masterpiece.

By Pascal Khoo Thwe,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked From the Land of Green Ghosts as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The astonishing story of a young man's upbringing in a remote tribal village in Burma and his journey from his strife-torn country to the tranquil quads of Cambridge.

In lyrical prose, Pascal Khoo Thwe describes his childhood as a member of the Padaung hill tribe, where ancestor worship and communion with spirits blended with the tribe's recent conversion to Christianity. In the 1930s, Pascal's grandfather captured an Italian Jesuit, mistaking him for a giant or a wild beast; the Jesuit in turn converted the tribe. (The Padaung are famous for their 'giraffe women' - so-called because their necks are ritually…


Book cover of Decline of the English Murder and Other Essays

Rory MacLean Author Of Under the Dragon: Travels in a Betrayed Land

From my list on Myanmar from someone who has traveled throughout it.

Who am I?

Rory MacLean is one of Britain's most innovative travel writers. His books – which have been translated into a dozen languages — include UK top tens Stalin's Nose and Under the Dragon as well as Pravda Ha Ha and Berlin: Imagine a City, "the most extraordinary work of history I've ever read" according to the Washington Post which named it a "Book of the Year". Over the years he has travelled throughout Burma – apart from when banned by the military government for his writings – coming to know it as a deeply-wounded and fractured golden land of temple bells, be-medalled generals who enrich themselves through drug deals and ever-optimistic men and women who fight on to restore its ‘democratic transition’.

Rory's book list on Myanmar from someone who has traveled throughout it

Rory MacLean Why did Rory love this book?

No surprise that George Orwell, author of the two defining parables of the 20th century, should be at the top of my list, especially as his five years in Burma attuned him to the suffering of the oppressed. More moving than ‘Burmese Days’ is his short story ‘A Hanging’ in which he watches a condemned criminal walk towards the gallows … and sidestep a puddle. In that fleeting moment Orwell marks the preciousness of human life and the heartlessness of power.

By George Orwell,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Decline of the English Murder and Other Essays as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It was in Burma, a sodden morning of the rains. A sickly light, like yellow tinfoil,
was slanting over the high walls into the jail yard. We were waiting outside the
condemned cells, a row of sheds fronted with double bars, like small animal cages.
Each cell measured about ten feet by ten and was quite bare within except for a plank
bed and a pot of drinking water. In some of them brown silent men were squatting at
the inner bars, with their blankets draped round them. These were the condemned men,
due to be hanged within the next…


Book cover of The Burman: His Life and Notions

Rory MacLean Author Of Under the Dragon: Travels in a Betrayed Land

From my list on Myanmar from someone who has traveled throughout it.

Who am I?

Rory MacLean is one of Britain's most innovative travel writers. His books – which have been translated into a dozen languages — include UK top tens Stalin's Nose and Under the Dragon as well as Pravda Ha Ha and Berlin: Imagine a City, "the most extraordinary work of history I've ever read" according to the Washington Post which named it a "Book of the Year". Over the years he has travelled throughout Burma – apart from when banned by the military government for his writings – coming to know it as a deeply-wounded and fractured golden land of temple bells, be-medalled generals who enrich themselves through drug deals and ever-optimistic men and women who fight on to restore its ‘democratic transition’.

Rory's book list on Myanmar from someone who has traveled throughout it

Rory MacLean Why did Rory love this book?

Should a Sunday-born man marry a lady born on Wednesday? To bring luck is a house to be built on male, female or neuter foundation posts? George Scott served as Frontier Officer for three decades at the end of the nineteenth century, but his enduring legacy is as a collector and sympathetic chronicler of the old ways in a country ‘where people are small and ghosts are big’.

By Sir George Scott,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Burman as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This work has been selected by scholars as being culturally important and is part of the knowledge base of civilization as we know it.

This work is in the public domain in the United States of America, and possibly other nations. Within the United States, you may freely copy and distribute this work, as no entity (individual or corporate) has a copyright on the body of the work.

Scholars believe, and we concur, that this work is important enough to be preserved, reproduced, and made generally available to the public. To ensure a quality reading experience, this work has been…


Book cover of The Glass Palace

Ron Emmons Author Of Teak Lord

From my list on exploring colonialism in Southeast Asia.

Who am I?

During 30 years living in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I have developed a deep appreciation of Northern Thai culture and a fascination with its 700-year history. Though the region escaped being colonised as were nearby Laos (by the French) and Burma (by the Brits), a teak boom in the late 19th century came close to pulling it under the colonial yoke as Western trading companies muscled in. Teak Lord explores the frequently fragile relationships between circumspect Asians and adventurous Westerners, against a background of shifting borders and impenetrable jungle.

Ron's book list on exploring colonialism in Southeast Asia

Ron Emmons Why did Ron love this book?

Amitav Ghosh is one of my favourite historical novelists and his ability to bring his characters to life draws readers into the web of this epic tale. The story begins in Burma in the shadow of the "Glass Palace" in Mandalay, from where King Thibaw has recently been exiled by the British. It then spans an entire century, following the lives of several characters, particularly Rajkumar, who begins as a food-stall assistant and after many years working in the teak forests, he manages to buy a timber yard of his own. If you enjoy this novel, don’t miss the Ibis Trilogy, about the opium trade in China and India.

By Amitav Ghosh,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked The Glass Palace as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The International Bestseller from the Man Booker Prize shortlisted author

'An absorbing story of a world in transition' JM Coetzee

'A Doctor Zhivago for the Far East' The Independent

Rajkumar is only another boy, helping on a market stall in the dusty square outside the royal palace, when the British force the Burmese King, Queen and all the Court into exile. He is rescued by the far-seeing Chinese merchant, and with him builds up a logging business in upper Burma. But haunted by his vision of the Royal Family, he journeys to the obscure town in India where they have…


Book cover of You've Changed: Fake Accents, Feminism, and Other Comedies from Myanmar

Tajja Isen Author Of Some of My Best Friends: Essays on Lip Service

From my list on that find the funny in an unjust world.

Who am I?

As a writer and editor, I spend a lot of time thinking about what prose—especially first-person nonfiction, which is mostly what I edit—does, and how it sets out to accomplish its project. Across forms, I tend to think humor is largely underused! No matter how serious the subject, there’s always a place for it to sharpen the critique. My book engages with topics like systemic discrimination and inequity, but throughout, I always stay attuned to the comic absurdity of my subject—both as a way to give more pleasure to the reader, and as a way to cut to the heart of what I want to express.

Tajja's book list on that find the funny in an unjust world

Tajja Isen Why did Tajja love this book?

I love the boldness of putting “comedy” right there in the subtitle, and Pyae Moe Thet War absolutely delivers. This memoir-in-essays, about being a millennial woman in Myanmar, has one of the strongest voices I’ve encountered in recent essay collections. She writes back against the expectation that racialized and minoritized writers perform their trauma for the reader, or must be restricted to certain topics and tones. You’ve Changed sets a precedent I know other writers will feel empowered to follow.

By Pyae Moe Thet War,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked You've Changed as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

In this electric debut essay collection, a Myanmar millennial playfully challenges us to examine the knots and complications of immigration status, eating habits, Western feminism in an Asian home, and more, guiding us toward an expansive idea of what it means to be a Myanmar woman today

What does it mean to be a Myanmar person—a baker, swimmer, writer and woman—on your own terms rather than those of the colonizer? These irreverent yet vulnerable essays ask that question by tracing the journey of a woman who spent her young adulthood in the US and UK before returning to her hometown…


Book cover of The Little Men

Robert Lyman Author Of A War of Empires: Japan, India, Burma & Britain: 1941-45

From my list on the war in Burma, 1941-45.

Who am I?

I've spent the last 30-years studying, reading about, writing, and teaching the story of the war between the Allies and the Japanese in the Far East during WWII. It includes of course the story of the fighting between the main protagonists, but there’s much more that has been neglected by writers and historians, certainly in the West. It includes the story of Burma and its various people; the role of India and its people as it moved rapidly towards independence and the role of China throughout. Every time I look at an aspect of the war, or read another memoir or open a dusty file in the archives, I come across more exciting material.

Robert's book list on the war in Burma, 1941-45

Robert Lyman Why did Robert love this book?

Too many books about war aren’t written by those with any experience of it. This, one of my all-time favorites, was written by a young infantry platoon commander fighting the Japanese in Burma in 1945. It tells of the men usually lost to history – what Cooper describes as the ‘little men’ – and who have no voice in the histories written about their exploits. This isn’t a work of great literature, but Cooper’s focus on the small-scale actions of men fighting men with bayonets, bullets, and grenades brings the reality of arrows on a general’s map to focus. 

By K.W. Cooper,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Little Men as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

The Burma campaign, in which General Slim's 14th Army halted the Japanese at the mountain passes into India and finally drove them back across the Irrawaddy, destroying them in the process, was among the last Allied victories in World War II. The author of this book served as an infantry platoon and company commander in this historic campaign and this book is based on the notes he made in 1945. He describes patrol engagements, night fighting, company and battalion attacks, and the crossing of the vast Irrawaddy.


Book cover of The Jacaranda Tree

Michael Tappenden Author Of Pegasus to Paradise

From my list on war that show the awful impact on the individual.

Who am I?

On D-Day 1944, three gliders carrying elite British soldiers landed to capture and hold the vital Pegasus bridge. In the first glider to land was my father, Ted Tappenden. Ted was one of several close relatives who served with distinction in WW2 including a naval officer and two fighter pilots. It was then no surprise when instead of following my grammar school direction to University, I volunteered instead to serve with the Parachute Regiment (my degree came later). My close connection with the military allowed me an insight into both the physical and mental strain and the awful consequences that might afflict those who serve and their nearest and dearest.

Michael's book list on war that show the awful impact on the individual

Michael Tappenden Why did Michael love this book?

This story, written in 1949, describes the escape of a small group of British and Burmese civilians from the invading Japanese during WW2 and seems perfect material for one of those British 1950s black and white films, showing the British temperament when facing total war – courage, resilience, snobbery, the perpetuation of the class system and petty rivalries even with the threat of a demanding landscape, and a brutal enemy closing in on them. As far as I know it never made the silver screen but you can have fun slotting actors of the time into the different characters.

The writer captures the vivid Burmese country, its taste and smell, its appalling heat and humidity from his own personal experiences and involves the reader in the hopes and fears of the escapees, urging them all on to safety. But who will make it? Who deserves to make it? Who doesn’t?…

By H.E. Bates,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked The Jacaranda Tree as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

This is a reissue of Bates's acclaimed novel of Burma. During World War II, a small English community are forced to flee when Japanese forces invade Burma. Paterson, the manager of a rice-mill, organises the evacuation and takes with him his Burmese mistress and her young brother. The rest of the party take along their prejudices, their pettiness and their squabbles, and a small enclave of English insularity moves north through Burma. Inevitably, as the journey continues, bitterness, tension and insoluble conflict unfold...Inspired by Bates' period of service in the Eastern theatre of war, "The Jacaranda Tree" skillfully evokes the…


Book cover of Blowback Burma

Philippe Espinasse Author Of Hard Underwriting

From my list on thrillers set in Asia.

Who am I?

I've lived in Asia for more than 22 years and have extensively traveled around the region, both for work and pleasure, from the Middle East and central Asia to Japan, and Australia, New Zealand, and every country in between. Asia is the perfect setting for a thriller, as a region that’s deeply rooted in traditions, but where modernity and growth are also breathless. There can be political instability at times, and even corruption, unsurpassed wealth and shocking poverty, bankers, and prostitutes. I worked for many years as an investment banker and my experiences inspired me to write my debut thriller, Hard Underwriting, in Hong Kong, and uncover the dark side of Asia’s financial capital. 

Philippe's book list on thrillers set in Asia

Philippe Espinasse Why did Philippe love this book?

This is the latest book in Boczar’s Eric Ketch series, which follows the adventures of an American international man of mystery across Hong Kong, Macao, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and Burma, in the pursuit of rubies, exotic women, and ruthless assassins.

Boczar himself knows the region very well, having lived in Hong Kong for over three decades, and worked as a war correspondent, on the porous borders of the golden triangle and in Lebanon during the civil war.

The descriptions, whether of cities, weapons, smugglers, or guerilla fighters, all feel true, and Boczar knows only too well how to tell a convincing and edge-of-your-seat story that is difficult to put down.

By Peter Boczar,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Blowback Burma as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Southeast Asia. Eric Ketch returns to take down bad guys while still making time to take out bad girls. Some things have stayed the same while some things have changed. Communist countries have become capitalist markets. But powerful, entitled elites continue to control politics and business. The communist cadres have simply become the capitalist kingpins.
Ketch gets hired as a freelance agent to do what he does best. Delivering justice. His way. However, the game board continues to elude him and he still gets torn between completing the mission and doing the right thing. Meanwhile, he remains vulnerable to exotically…


Book cover of India's War: The Making of Modern South Asia 1939-1945

Robert Lyman Author Of A War of Empires: Japan, India, Burma & Britain: 1941-45

From my list on the war in Burma, 1941-45.

Who am I?

I've spent the last 30-years studying, reading about, writing, and teaching the story of the war between the Allies and the Japanese in the Far East during WWII. It includes of course the story of the fighting between the main protagonists, but there’s much more that has been neglected by writers and historians, certainly in the West. It includes the story of Burma and its various people; the role of India and its people as it moved rapidly towards independence and the role of China throughout. Every time I look at an aspect of the war, or read another memoir or open a dusty file in the archives, I come across more exciting material.

Robert's book list on the war in Burma, 1941-45

Robert Lyman Why did Robert love this book?

This is a ground-breaking book because in telling the extraordinary story of the Indian Army during the Second World War, Professor Raghavan rightly places it firmly at the center of the great victories the Allies achieved over the Japanese in 1945. This book traces the transformation of the Indian Army from a largely domestically focused constabulary of 200,000 in 1939 to a victorious all-arms combat force of well over 2 million men and women in 1945. This army for the first time reflected India as a whole, rather than the pre-war Indian Army which recruited selectively from across India. 

By Srinath Raghavan,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked India's War as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

SPECTATOR BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2016, GUARDIAN BOOKS OF THE YEAR 2016

'Authoritative, expansive and incisive...helps restore India to the global twentieth century' Sunil Khilnani

Between 1939 and 1945 India changed to an extraordinary extent. Millions of Indians suddenly found themselves as soldiers, fighting in Europe and North Africa but also - something simply never imagined - against a Japanese army threatening to invade eastern India. Many more were pulled into the vortex of wartime mobilization.

Srinath Raghavan's compelling and original book gives both a surprising new account of the fighting and of life on the home front. For Indian…


Book cover of Burmese Days

Ron Emmons Author Of Teak Lord

From my list on exploring colonialism in Southeast Asia.

Who am I?

During 30 years living in Chiang Mai, Thailand, I have developed a deep appreciation of Northern Thai culture and a fascination with its 700-year history. Though the region escaped being colonised as were nearby Laos (by the French) and Burma (by the Brits), a teak boom in the late 19th century came close to pulling it under the colonial yoke as Western trading companies muscled in. Teak Lord explores the frequently fragile relationships between circumspect Asians and adventurous Westerners, against a background of shifting borders and impenetrable jungle.

Ron's book list on exploring colonialism in Southeast Asia

Ron Emmons Why did Ron love this book?

A lifelong hero of mine, George Orwell is best known for his political allegories Animal Farm and 1984, but his first published novel, written after a five-year stint as a policeman in Burma, gave an indication of his direction as a writer, with a vicious swipe at colonial attitudes and manners. The main character, John Flory, is a jaded teak merchant who detests the colonial “lie that we’re here to uplift our Black brothers instead of to rob them”. He has no friends at the local colonial club, is unlucky in love and meets a tragic end—all part of Orwell’s drive to “tell it like it is.”

By George Orwell,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Burmese Days as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Honest and evocative, George Orwell's first novel is an examination of the debasing effect of empire on occupied and occupier.

Burmese Days focuses on a handful of Englishmen who meet at the European Club to drink whisky and to alleviate the acute and unspoken loneliness of life in 1920s Burma-where Orwell himself served as an imperial policeman-during the waning days of British imperialism.

One of the men, James Flory, a timber merchant, has grown soft, clearly comprehending the futility of England's rule. However, he lacks the fortitude to stand up for his Indian friend, Dr. Veraswami, for admittance into the…


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