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41 of 41 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A wonderful book, well written
I could not replace this book on my shelf without recommending it to others. I haven't felt so sorry to finish the last page of a book in a long time.
Pascal Khoo Thwe is a determined, unpretentious but resilient man. He was born into a tribal family in a remote part of Burma. His university education in Mandalay is cut short when he is forced to leave his studies...
Published on 5 Jun 2003

versus
3.0 out of 5 stars Very descriptive writing.
Book was very good at describing the life in rural Burma but was not so interesting thereafter. Obviously an autobiography.
Published 10 months ago by Kathb


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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting and moving account of a crucial period in Burma's history, 27 Mar 2012
By 
H. Oconnor "hocsmed" (Brighton, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: From The Land of Green Ghosts: A Burmese Odyssey (Paperback)
The Padaung people of eastern Shan state in Burma are little-known apart from their "long-necked women". The author, Pascal Khoo Thwe, is a member of this hilltribe and provides a vivid description of his childhood and youth in a rural and traditional environment, where ghosts are as real as the living. Having eventually decided against the Catholic priesthood, he enters Mandalay University, a culture shock to him as a country boy, at a time when the student unrest of the 1980s is gathering momentum. His story describes his increasing anger and radicalisation in the face of the military regime's repression and persecution of minorities and dissidents; his eventual flight to the jungle to join the Karen guerrillas; and his rescue by a Cambridge academic whom he had previously met by chance in Mandalay and who had become aware of his interest in and knowledge of English literature. Thanks to this acquaintance, the author escapes to neighbouring Thailand, and travels to Britain to study English literature at Cambridge University. He subsequently becomes the first Padaung ever to graduate from Cambridge. I would like to have known a little more about how he managed to cope with such a totally different environment, after his struggle for survival in the Burmese jungle, under constant threat of death. I read this book a few weeks after visiting Burma, and the descriptions brought back many memories: although it may have been useful to read it before travelling there, for background information on the politics and society of Burma, I am glad to have read it afterwards, as I could visualise, at least, the scenery, people, towns and cities. This book is a fascinating evocation of life in a little-known (so far) country, which is on the brink of great change, mostly, one hopes, for the better.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An amazing journey to freedom., 11 Aug 2011
This review is from: From The Land of Green Ghosts: A Burmese Odyssey (Paperback)
This is an autobiography written by the eldest son of a family who live in a remote part of Burma. Pascal Khoo Thwe is forced to leave his tribal family when he becomes a vocal and active protester against the corrupt and violent military dicatorship. Pascal survives against all odds. He evades his enemies, he withstands malaria and starvation whilst fighting for democracy as a guerilla against the military regime.

His life changes when, by chance, he meets Dr. John Casey a Cambridge Don.

This book gives a deep insight into the abusive, corrupt regime in Burma in the eighties, where rape and murder are commonplace. It is both tragic and uplifting, showing Pascal's determination to survive against all odds. It is an excellent read, though tough going at times.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars `Central Burma is an alien land, the abode of evil spirits, green ghosts and the like -`, 1 May 2011
By 
Jennifer Cameron-Smith "Expect the Unexpected" (ACT, Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: From The Land of Green Ghosts: A Burmese Odyssey (Paperback)
Pascal Khoo Thwe was born in 1967, in a remote village in Burma. This memoir details his life from his childhood as a member of an extended family of a headman of the Kayan people in southern Shan State; his journey through conflict-ridden Burma; and finally his life in Britain.
Pascal Khoo Thwe is a member of the Kayan Padaung tribe - best known for the brass neck rings worn by women which create the effect of an elongated neck. Pascal Khoo Thwe writes of village grandmothers who had been taken to England in 1936 to be exhibited in a circus. The women, when they returned to Burma, spoke about strange English tea-time rituals, and wondered about the absence of rice-wine. Pascal Khoo Thwe writes of a comfortable childhood in a small town with mixed ethnicity and multiple languages. Religiously, Roman Catholicism, Animism and Buddhism seem to co-exist together comfortably.

`I used to see people in a different light, depending on which language I spoke to them in.'
Pascal Khoo Thwe leaves his village behind when he travels to Mandalay to study English literature at the University. Here he forms friendships with other students, falls in love with a Burman girl named Moe and adapts to a new way of life. Here, too, while working as a waiter in a Chinese restaurant, he meets Professor John Casey: a chance meeting which later has a huge impact on his life. Moe is murdered by the Tatmadaw (armed forces) and eventually Pascal Khoo Thwe, like so many others, flees into the hills away from the military crackdown of September 18, 1988. This is a Burma which he did not know: a jungle in both a literal and pejorative sense:

`The word `jungle' still carried pejorative overtones in the speech of urban Burmese. Anyone taking refuge with the ethnic insurgents was called a `jungle child,' which implied primitiveness, anarchy, violence and disease--as well as the unpleasant proximity of wild animals, which the Burmese detested. I had always been painfully sensitive about being regarded as part of a primitive tribe, ..'

Pascal Khoo Thwe's journey, learning about the devastation of this war specifically on the rural people of Burma, while coming to appreciate the country itself was for me the most powerful part of this memoir. It's a view of Burma which reflects some of the impacts of its turbulent history.
`Ours is a ghost and spirit culture, and for us the presence of ghosts is as natural as reincarnation is to the Buddhists.'
Pascal Khoo Thwe survives this experience and, as a consequence of meeting John Casey in Mandalay, because of a shared interest in the works of James Joyce, he is able to escape from Burma and eventually to study at Cambridge. The final part of this memoir is about Pascal Khoo Thwe's experiences in Britain, of the challenges faced as he studies for (and attains) his degree in English from Cambridge.

There are a number of ways to read Pascal Khoo Thwe's story. An interest in James Joyce led to his meeting with Professor John Casey and finally to Cambridge and the polished English with which he tells his story. But while it's interesting to read the story of the first Burmese tribesman to attend Cambridge University, it's Pascal Khoo Thwe's story of life in Burma which haunts me. What does the future hold for Pascal Khoo Thwe, and for Burma? I can see why the story of `Eveline' (in `The Dubliners') moved Pascal Khoo Thwe: how circular will his own journey be. I wonder, though, what he thinks of `Ulysses'?

`Remember what your grandfather said about the earth's being round at school and flat at home.'

This is a thought-provoking memoir which I enjoyed reading, and am still thinking about.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Escape from military dictatorship, 26 Jun 2014
By 
Baudouin De Witte "Baudouin" (Belgium) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: From The Land of Green Ghosts: A Burmese Odyssey (Paperback)
The author, then a young man, tells how he was opposed to and fighting against the military dictators in Burma, where minority tribes continue to wage war against the central government. Finally the author crossed the border into Thailand and moved to England with the help of an Englishman he had previously met during his student days in Burma.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insight into Burma under harsh military rule, 28 Jan 2014
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This review is from: From The Land of Green Ghosts: A Burmese Odyssey (Paperback)
An amazing insight into the the Padaung tribe by Pascal from his childhood in the jungle of eastern Burma to his graduation from Caius College, Cambridge. A truly remarkable man who was able to marry his tribal beliefs with his Catholic upbringing. I read Pascal's book shortly after visiting Burma including the Shan States and would recommend not only his book but also the country before it gets too westernised and possibly loses some of its culture.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Very descriptive writing., 25 Nov 2013
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This review is from: From The Land of Green Ghosts: A Burmese Odyssey (Paperback)
Book was very good at describing the life in rural Burma but was not so interesting thereafter. Obviously an autobiography.
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5.0 out of 5 stars The Land of Green Ghosts: A Burmese Odyssey, 20 Nov 2013
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This review is from: From The Land of Green Ghosts: A Burmese Odyssey (Paperback)
Very sad but interesting story which takes place in Burma. Anyone interested in that country should read this very true story.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Astounding, 14 Nov 2013
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This review is from: From The Land of Green Ghosts: A Burmese Odyssey (Paperback)
A moving and compelling story about an amazing individual from a tribal background who survived a brutal regime and war to become a Cambridge graduate in the most extraordinary circumstances. An important read for anyone visiting Burma who would like to learn more about its recent history and understand its culture.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Land of Green Ghosts, 2 April 2013
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I bought this for a friend. It is a most interesting text, and the book is of interest to anyone with affection for Burma and for young people given hope out of the blue
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5.0 out of 5 stars Inspirational memoir!, 16 Feb 2013
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This review is from: From The Land of Green Ghosts: A Burmese Odyssey (Paperback)
I read it whilst visiting Burma and was very moved by Pascal's story. It was fantastic that his meeting with Dr John Casey the Cambridge don happened as it did and that from that meeting, both their lives changed.
I would love to know what Pascal is doing now and if he has managed to go back to Burma or will be able to go...he must miss it so much, it is a wonderful country with lovely people. I hope that the regime will really change and the people will have a democracy at last then he would be safe to return.
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From The Land of Green Ghosts: A Burmese Odyssey
From The Land of Green Ghosts: A Burmese Odyssey by Pascal Khoo Thwe (Paperback - 3 Mar 2003)
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