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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Homage to Burma?...
Hardly. Orwell saved that for Catalonia. Emma Larkin has written a wonderful, realistic book on modern Burma, structuring it by tracing the path of George Orwell when he was a colonial officer there in the `20's. As she indicates in the prologue, many Burmese believe that he wrote not one novel, but rather a trilogy about the country: Burmese Days (Penguin Modern...
Published on 1 Jan 2011 by John P. Jones III

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5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Emma Larkin's Burma
As an introduction to "Burmese Days" by Orwell, this book can be useful.
Emma Larkin travelled extensively through Myanmar and found a lot of people and went to a lot of places, succeeding in conveying to us some of the flavour and scents of the Burmese scene, but mostly she chases after the ghost of Orwell. Her main conclusion should have been that the ghost is no...
Published on 31 Mar 2008 by Joao MOTA de CAMPOS


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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Homage to Burma?..., 1 Jan 2011
By 
John P. Jones III (Albuquerque, NM, USA) - See all my reviews
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Hardly. Orwell saved that for Catalonia. Emma Larkin has written a wonderful, realistic book on modern Burma, structuring it by tracing the path of George Orwell when he was a colonial officer there in the `20's. As she indicates in the prologue, many Burmese believe that he wrote not one novel, but rather a trilogy about the country: Burmese Days (Penguin Modern Classics) Animal Farm: A Fairy Story and 1984 Nineteen Eighty-Four (Penguin Modern Classics) The later two books may have unintentional described the conditions in Burma today. I have previously read "Burmese Days" and did not particularly like it for its relentless negative tone, which may reflect the sad, debilitating nature of the colonial ruler / subject relationship. I felt it was similar to Celine's Journey to the End of the Night (Oneworld Classics)

Larkin is a journalist, using this name as a pseudonym, speaks Burmese, and must be careful of her inquisitiveness and her sources as she travels around the country. She starts her journey, as did Orwell, in Mandalay. She also knows her Kipling, and reflects on the love-hate relationship Orwell had with a writer synonymous with the British Empire. She traveled to Maymyo, the old hill station that resembles "back Home" England, and stayed at the Candacraig Hotel. She describes the town for what it is, a distant mirror of the Empire. Her next stop on the Orwell trail is Myaungmya, in the Delta, a truly dreadful place to live, with humidity and mosquitoes ruling, but a place to make a living due to the fertility of the land. When Orwell was stationed there he was active in the fight against the increase in banditry. One of the Larkin's observations, citing one of the inhabitants, is that Orwell might not have written "1984" if he had not been stationed there. After the Delta, Larkin goes to Rangoon, where she has her favorite areas to stroll, and reflects upon the Generals running the country, and their chief opponent Aung San Suu Kyi. Next she went to Moulmein, the town where Orwell's ancestors, the Limouzin's, started their sojourn in Burma in 1824. There she has an appointment with a living remnant of Empire, an elderly Anglo-Burmese woman who speaks with a crisp English accent, and elected to stay when the Generals staged their coup in the `60's. Larkin searches out those who may have known the Limouzin's with limited success. Her final stop is Katha, in the north, which played prominently in "Burmese Days" as the station for its protagonist, John Flory. A quiet, sad little town where she must stay one step ahead of the Intelligence Service, and their numerous informants, who want to know why she is really there.

I have had a long-term fascination with Burma, visiting it four times in the `80's. It is one of the most photogenic countries in the world, it seems all one has to do is point the camera, and one has a wonderful picture. It is also like visiting a vast open-air museum, with time stopping in 1948. Back in the `80's, one was limited, quite strictly, to a 7-day visa, and the Delta, Moulmein, and Katha were all "off-limits." Maymyo was particularly unique, with stage-coaches as the principal transport, and I was able to stay in one of the "turret rooms" at the Candacraig for a dollar a night, which included a tub of hot water delivered to the room. On the standard tour then were also Ingle Lake on the front cover, as well as Pagan, which Larkin does not discuss.

The photography and the uniqueness of the country distracted one from seeing the underlying sadness and oppression in which the people lived. Larkin has done an immense service in focusing on this aspect, using chance and arranged encounters with the Burmese as her vehicle. And time and time again she proves that Orwell, writing about the possible future of Western countries, was prophetic about the conditions in the country today.

At the end of World War II, if one was to predict the countries that would most likely succeed, one would have named Burma and Ceylon, due to their natural resources and educated population, and would never have named Singapore, which lacked both. The contrast is stunning, and the answer lies in leadership - how a few can upgrade, or repress the many. Alas, the later occurred in Burma, which remains an anachronism in the world today, much to the regret of its people who can rarely leave. In the words of Beatrice, the Anglo-Burmese: "They have managed to turn a paradise into something not much better than a living hell."

The book is now four years old, and I do hope Larkin can go back, staying under "the radar of intelligence," and continue to report on this fascinating country in her quiet, low-key manner. This is an excellent book.

(Note: Review first published at Amazon, USA, on November 08, 2008)
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating insigth and account, 14 April 2013
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The writing is beatiufl and captivating. For anyone who has been to Burma or is about to visit this is certainly a useful read and provides a good perspective on just how difficult and frustrating life can be, using the vehicle of Geroge Orwell's previous experiecne of working int eh country, although at a very different time, and how this has undoubtedly affected his writings in later years.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Loved it, 17 Dec 2013
By 
L. Israel "Lisa Israel" (London United Kingdom) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Finding George Orwell in Burma (Paperback)
Very interesting about Burma as it was at its worst with loads of details that really bring the country to life, and also an interesting insight into George Orwell and the colonial period. Also very easy to read. Was my favourite book when I was there.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent travel book, 25 Nov 2013
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This review is from: Finding George Orwell in Burma (Paperback)
This was exactly the book I needed to read after a recent trip to Burma, not so much for the Orwellian thread, interesting as that is, but for the insights Larkin provides to life in Myanmar. I wanted to continue travelling with her instead of closing the book, and immediately ordered up 'Everything is broken'.

I was rather concerned that even if names were changed it would be very easy to identify almost all of the people she speaks with. Clearly Larkin is very professional and she must have been certain that publication of 'Finding George Orwell in Burma' would not result in any repercussions for people who had trusted her with their opinions. However, I found it difficult to understand how the backgrounds of those contributors could have been changed sufficiently to protect them without entirely altering the context that characterises and sometimes validates their stories. I'm not a journalist, doubtless Larkin followed an accepted level of protective alteration.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Orwell in Burma, Emma Larkin, 21 April 2013
A very well-researched and compelling read which has both literary and socio-political interest. The two are marvellously intertwined as the author weaves her way in and out of a search as much concerned with a little-known part of Orwell's life, as with the history and face of Burma today.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Fascinating, 20 April 2013
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I bought this book to learn about Burma before my planned visit. It provides detailed coverage of life in many parts of the country and the link with Orwell is well developed. Although it predates the recent changes it is useful in order to understand how bad things were.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Finding Burma and Orwell, 12 Jan 2013
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A really interesting and well written book. I already had an interest in both Orwell and Burma and Emma Larkin didn't disappoint. She is knowledgeable and her writing gives a truly human feeling to the past and present in this largely unknown country.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Read before you go if poss., 9 Jan 2013
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I read this when I got back from Burma - also I had read Burmese Days recently and 1984 and Animal Farm some time ago. Worth reading all three first. May interest most people - but especially those who have been to Burma.
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5.0 out of 5 stars present, 4 Jan 2013
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This review is from: Finding George Orwell in Burma (Paperback)
Was asked as a present. well packed and arrived in time. They seemed pleased with the present. No complaints here.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great book, especially for anyone travelling to Myanmar, 3 Jun 2012
By 
Robin Duxfield (New York, NY United States) - See all my reviews
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This book is fun to read and provides an interesting perspective on the situation in Myanmar. It also lead me to read George Orwell's Burmese Days, which is a great book as well. Be aware that this book contains spoilers of George Orwell's book though.
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Finding George Orwell in Burma
Finding George Orwell in Burma by Emma Larkin (Paperback - 7 July 2011)
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