What does the fortunate visitor feel, travelling among the betrayed? The memory of a brief visit to Burma had haunted Rory MacLean for years. A decade after the violent suppression of an unarmed national uprising, which cost thousands of lives and all hopes for democracy, he seized the chance to return. Travelling from Rangoon to Mandalay and Pagan, into the heart of the Golden Triangle, he hears stories of freedom fighters, government censors, basket weavers, farmers and lovers - ordinary people struggling to survive under one of the most brutal and repressive regimes in the world. He also meets Aung San Suu Kyi, perhaps the most courageous woman of our time and the embodiment of all Burma s hope. On his journey MacLean exposes the tragedy of a hundred betrayals, giving voice to those too frightened to speak for themselves. In so doing he illuminates a land of paradoxes woven together like a basket: love and hate, faith and hopelessness, freedom and slavery, kindness and cruelty, selflessness and greed. 'Under the Dragon' is a perceptive and heartbreaking portrayal of contemporary Burma, a country that is shot through with desperation and fear, but also blessed - even in the darkest places - with beauty and courage.
Rory MacLean's eight books, including UK best-sellers 'Stalin's Nose' and 'Under the Dragon', have challenged and invigorated travel writing, and according to the late John Fowles are among works that 'marvellously explain why literature still lives'. During his research journeys, MacLean walked through the newly-opened Berlin Wall, met Aung San Suu Kyi in Rangoon and interviewed Pashtun elders at the Kacha Garhi refugee camp after the destruction of the World Trade Center. In a moving departure, his latest book 'Gift of Time' travels with his mother on her final journey.
His books have won awards from the Canada Council and the Arts Council of England, were shortlisted for the Thomas Cook Travel Book Prize and nominated for the International IMPAC Dublin Literary award. He is a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and an active member of English PEN. He has also written and presented over 50 programmes for BBC radio and worked on movies with David Bowie and Marlene Dietrich.