River of Lost Footsteps
Thant Myint-U (Farrar, Straus and Giroux)
Since the beginning of political and economic reforms in 2010, Burma has become a regular topic inthe news. Anyone who regular reads publications like the New York Times or the Economist would beable to consider themselves relatively well-informed about the rapidly changing situation in the Golden Land. However, much of the coverage of Burma is often ahistorical, and there is little public discussion about Burma before 2010, let alone before Aung San Suu Kyi. In River of Lost Footsteps, Thant Myint-U provides a detailed history of Burma over the past four centuries, all the while weaving in the story of his own family in Burma.
Indeed, Thant Myint-U is uniquely positioned to write such a history. Born in New York, his grandfather U Thant was the Secretary-General of the UN in the 1960s. Educated at Harvard, the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies and Cambridge, the author has lectured extensively on Asian and British imperial history. In the book, his mastery of the subject is quite evident, but also is a certain objectivity. Being Burmese himself and having spent summers there while growing up, he has an obvious intimacy with the country and passion for it but at the same time, he lacks the nationalistic bias that some native Burmese writers might carry. Continue reading