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Andrew Marshall's historical travelogue is a thrilling tale of two adventures in Burma. The first, undertaken over 100 years ago by the dauntless Victorian adventurer Sir George Scott, who helped establish British colonial rule; and the second, by the author himself, as he retraces the indomitable Scott's journey into the heart of Burma, where the legacies of a xenophobic military regime have eroded native traditions and hopes for a united democracy in the ethnically divided land.
Marshall believes that Scott has been largely forgotten despite his colorful, brave, and oh-so-British exploits because the modern world has also largely chosen to overlook Burma (Myanmar) itself. In 1891, Scott began work on what would become a meticulous study of Burma, indexing countless specific tribal customs, such as headhunting, the Kachin belief that earthquakes are caused by the movement of giant subterranean crocodiles, and the conviction of the Eastern Tai that lunar eclipses "are the work of a moon-swallowing frog who must be frightened off by an orgy of gong-beating and gunfire."
Today, Burma is a stricken nation, deteriorating under an illegitimate military dictatorship and the influence of powerful drug lords. The often-murderous Burmese soldiers, like the British colonialists before them, are nicknamed "the trouser people" by the country's sarong-wearing civilians. Andrew Marshall's work of the same name is an offbeat, absorbing, and wry account of British colonial activities and misdeeds -- and a distressing but heartfelt portrait of the modern tragedy of Burma. (Spring 2002 Selection)