Here, Lewis visits Burma soon after the end of WWII, spurred on by the knowledge that the complex political climate will soon make it impossible to visit the country. Even so, he has difficulties navigating his way round the country, dogged by the opposing needs of bureaucracy, the military and the problems of native insurgents of all political creeds. His work is beautiful and poignant. His hope at the end of the book that the Burmese will overcome their differences and take pride in their nationality and what makes them so unique, seems so much more tragic given the contemporary knowledge we have of the harsh and brutal military regime in Burma, their appalling human rights record and the recent purges by the government.
Lewis writes with compassion and sympathy for the Burmese and their country. He gets under the skin of what it means to exist in such a peculiar place and talks about his feelings about colonialism, empire and politics which is neither forced nor grating, but comes from a natural contemplation of what he experiences on his travels. He has a lightness of touch and humour that never failed to bring a smile to my lips, and while obviously dated, this is the book I would recommend as crucial reading for anyone interested in visiting or understanding Burma.