100 books like The Burman

By Sir George Scott,

Here are 100 books that The Burman fans have personally recommended if you like The Burman. Shepherd is a community of 11,000+ 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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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 Glass Palace

Ron Emmons Author Of Teak Lord

From my list on exploring colonialism in Southeast Asia.

Why am I passionate about this?

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 Golden Earth: Travels in Burma

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

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

Why am I passionate about this?

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?

Among the 20th century’s finest travel writers, Norman Lewis visited Burma in the early 1950s.  ‘Golden Earth’ is a bittersweet portrait of the then-optimistic, now-lost land – before communist incursions and military dictatorship shattered the dream.

By Norman Lewis,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

"a simple blueprint for Utopia" - the best travel book on Burma since World War II - despite travelling at a time of massive internal insecurity, Norman Lewis still found the eternal Burma, where pagodas are the only punctuation on the horizon and strangers are treated with an overwhelming friendliness - an overnight best-seller when first published - revisits the tragic Burma road, treked by so many refugees fleeing Burma before the Japanese advance in 1942


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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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 Myanmar's Enemy Within: Buddhist Violence and the Making of a Muslim 'Other'

Uzi Rabi Author Of The Return of the Past: State, Identity, and Society in the Post-Arab Spring Middle East

From my list on political identity and divisions.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am the Director of the Moshe Dayan Center for Middle Eastern and African Studies at Tel Aviv University. My interest lies in modern history and evolution of states and societies in the Middle East: Iranian- Arab relations, oil and politics, and Sunni- Shi’i dynamics. It is a particularly important period in time for the Middle East as there is a changing paradigm of geopolitics in the region. During the course of the last decade, we have seen repercussions of the Arab Spring, withdrawal of US troops from the region and signing of the Abraham Accords. I follow these developments and frequently provide expert commentary and analysis in various forums. 

Uzi's book list on political identity and divisions

Uzi Rabi Why did Uzi love this book?

The Enemy Within discusses the factors that instigated violence in June 2012 between the Buddhists and Muslims within Myanmar. This violence had disastrous results for several ethnic communities, especially the Rohingya.

The book focuses on two main ideas: the development and maintenance of ethnic identity over a long period of time, that turns minorities into the ‘other’ in their own country, and Myanmar government’s practice of political violence that eliminates religious and racial diversity.

Wade describes how the discussion over an ethnic minority’s identity was manipulated by Buddhist extremists as well as the military junta. He also illustrates that by constantly threatening the identity and beliefs of groups of people in the country, the government was able to undertake a program of exclusion and persecution.

By Francis Wade,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

In 2017, Myanmar's military launched a campaign of violence against the Rohingya minority that UN experts later said amounted to a genocide. More than seven hundred thousand civilians fled to Bangladesh in what became the most concentrated flight of refugees since the Rwanda genocide of 1994. The warning signs of impending catastrophe that had built over years were downplayed by Western backers of the political transition, and only when the exodus began did the world finally come to acknowledge a catastrophe that had been long in the making.

In this updated edition of the book that foreshadowed a genocide, Francis…


Book cover of Burma: Rivers of Flavor

Ma Thanegi Author Of Nor Iron Bars a Cage

From my list on a combination of personalities, travel, and food.

Why am I passionate about this?

I am a painter and a writer from Myanmar. The former profession is what I chose when I was 15 and began at 21, featured in a group exhibition of modern art and the only woman among several men. Since then I have exhibited in several group shows and have had seven solos. In the early 2000s by chance - and financial need - I became the Contributing Editor for the Myanmar Times weekly and a travel magazine until they closed down. Since then I have written around 20 books on food, culture, and travels and it kept me so busy that my art was put on hoId, but I hope to resume one day soon.

Ma's book list on a combination of personalities, travel, and food

Ma Thanegi Why did Ma love this book?

Naomi Duguid has been coming to Burma since the restrictive 1980s. In one interview she said this about her MO: ''I would go to smaller places and hang around, sipping a tea in tea shops, pedaling around on an old bicycle, taking photos. .. in the amazing markets. And gradually, after several days, I would become a familiar sight so that people would start to connect with me, open up a little....''
For me, it is a rare and precious record of the cuisine of our races, their lives, and cuisine. And for others, I am sure it's about discovering new worlds.

By Naomi Duguid,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Located at the crossroads between China, India, and the nations of Southeast Asia, Burma has long been a land that absorbed outside influences into its everyday life, from the Buddhist religion to foodstuffs like the potato. In the process, the people of the country now known as Myanmar have developed a rich, complex cuisine that makes inventive use of easily available ingredients to create exciting flavour combinations. Salads are one of the best entry points into the glories of this cuisine, with sparkling flavours - crispy fried shallots, a squeeze of fresh lime juice, a dash of garlic oil, a…


Book cover of Land of Jade: A Journey from India Through Northern Burma to China

Daniel Combs Author Of Until the World Shatters: Truth, Lies, and the Looting of Myanmar

From my list on the human toll of civil war.

Why am I passionate about this?

As an author, humanitarian, and diplomat, I’ve seen firsthand how the everyday brutality of civil wars and ethnic conflicts is often overlooked in favor of statistics: 100,000 displaced; 500 arrested; 7 villages torched. In places like Myanmar, Ethiopia, Congo, Nigeria, and Bangladesh, I have tried to use human-centered reporting to bring a magnifying glass to the effect of these tragedies on everyday people. By focusing on the stories that most of the world would rather turn away from, I think we have a better chance to understand, and ultimately prevent, these violent political and social upheavals. 

Daniel's book list on the human toll of civil war

Daniel Combs Why did Daniel love this book?

Bertil Lintner’s many books on Myanmar were essential background material for me when I lived there doing my own research on the country’s never-ending civil war. Land of Jade is a vivid and insightful study of Myanmar’s conflicts, and my favorite of his works. In 1985, he struck out to walk on foot from India, across northern Myanmar (then Burma), and eventually into southwestern China. The journey was the first (and likely only) time a journalist would undertake such an arduous, dangerous, and unforgettable trek.

His hosts along the way were a bewildering array of rebel groups at war against Myanmar’s despotic authoritarian regime. Accompanying Lintner on the journey was his pregnant wife Hseng Noung, whose photographs of Myanmar’s rugged northern terrain further enhance this incredible travelogue. 

By Bertil Lintner,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

Gripping record of a now legendary odyssey through northern Burma by reporter Bertil Lintner and family, updated by the author and newly indexed.


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.

Why am I passionate about this?

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 The Jacaranda Tree

Michael Tappenden Author Of Pegasus to Paradise

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

Why am I passionate about this?

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…


5 book lists we think you will like!

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