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David Eimer journeys to the heart of Burma, bringing to vivid life all of its riches and complexities
From 1962, the people of Burma were marooned in a paranoid military dictatorship, effectively cut off from the outside world. It was only in late 2015 that the National League for Democracy, led by Aung San Suu Kyi, won absolute majority and were able to take their seats in government. Yet the government and country are still far from stable.
Nothing is straightforward in this captivating and enigmatic land. In a country where building a temple takes priority over installing traffic lights, golf courses are ploughed out alongside fields of opium poppies and fortune-tellers are consulted on a daily basis even by the government, any sepia-tinged and colonial idea of Burma is long out of date. A Vicious Wonderland reveals it in all its technicolour glory. To explore its magic and depths, David Eimer takes his narrative through history, class and geography, including areas still barred to foreigners. This is a story balanced by historical context but related by the people with whom Eimer shares his time, from granddaughters of former presidents to the squatters in Yangon's shacks, from former political exiles to jade miners digging for their fortune in the far north.
Layers of history are unfurled and innumerable stories are woven together to create a sensitive and revelatory portrait of this most mysterious of countries. Authoritative and ground-breaking, A Savage Wonderland: Journeys in Burma is set to be a modern classic of travel-writing.