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The Trouser People: A Story of Burma in the Shadow of Empire
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The Trouser People: A Story of Burma in the Shadow of Empire

3.89 of 5 stars 3.89  ·  rating details  ·  131 ratings  ·  20 reviews
Two journeys, one hundred years apart--that of the eccentric British explorer George Scott, who introduced the game of soccer to Burmese natives, and that of the author, charting the same dangerous terrain in a country vastly changed by colonialism, war, and politics. Andrew Marshall has written an unforgettable adventure story, the wry account of two journeys into the unt...more
Hardcover, 320 pages
Published February 14th 2002 by Counterpoint (first published 2002)
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Note: I can only speak for the first third of this book, because I stopped reading there.

I enjoy discovering interesting facts about other cultures, and a book discussing Myanmar/Burma, a place I know very little about, seemed pretty promising. The Trouser People had facts. Lots of facts. But it didn't offer me anything else: It read like a collection of trivia, loosely organized along the author's journeys through the country.

The book was dry. It entirely lacked passion or emotion. Even the jok...more
Daniel Kipp
I enjoyed this book, primarily because I am interested in Burma/Myanmar, and am trying to learn more about it. The author's travels are FAIRLY interesting, the writing is good. This is one of those "in the footsteps of....", sort of, books. In this case, in the footsteps of a larger-than life englishman, in the days when England controlled - or TRIED to control - remote areas of what we now call Burma, or Myanmar.

For general readers, I would give this a 3 star rating. For those interested in Bur...more
Ted Gault
I enjoyed this book and found that there were some unique observations about colonial and post-colonial Burma that I had not encountered before. It was very readable and I enjoyed learning about the swashbuckling adventures of George Scott and the British colonial experience in general.

That said, I was a very surprised that Senior General Than Shwe was not mentioned AT ALL in this book. Shwe was the top general and defacto leader of Burma from the early 1990s to 2011, not Khin Nyunt. While Khin...more
Apr 03, 2012 Subvert rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: anyone interested in Myanmar
My plan for travelling Burma last month was to simultaneously travel and read about Burma. This was the first I read and also my favourite. I finished in my first three days, while mostly hanging out in the teashops in Rangoon. I ended up visiting pretty much all the described places except for Mongla and the 'inaccessible' parts of Burma. Sir George Scott's life is truly fascinating and his book "The Burman" can still be found everywhere in Burma and in the streets of Rangoon they simply sell t...more
Written by recounting the journey of Sir George Scott starting in the 1880's, Andrew Marshall revisits many of the same areas and finds: minimal cultural changes, traces of Scott's influence, and a city run by a drug lord. Interesting read, gives one perspective to the country before setting foot there. Worth a read if you're planning a trip there.

Some excepts:
* Useful phrases with western equivalents: "To play a harp for a water buffalo" is "to throw pearls before swine." To "praise the picklin...more
A travelog of the author's journey into the northeastern portion of Burma in search of minority ethnic tribes in the semi-autonomous regions bordering China and Thailand. Roughly parallels the imperialist push of the British Raj into these regions during the late 19th C, headed by George Scott, whose life is described in some detail. Also a severe indictment of the current military regime, highlighting the atrocities commited against not just the minorities, but anybody who dares stand up agains...more
A hard read. Kind of boring. but I found it very interesting learning more about Myanmar. This was mostly about the ethnic groups in the North and East of Myanmar. I learned a lot. One fascinating part was the photos. The author had photos from a British military colonizer taken 100 years ago, and then he had photos he recently took. Many of the tribal people (women especially) looked exactly the same 100 years ago as they do today. This had been on my "to read" list for over a year and I'm glad...more
Sabita Mehra
This time I decided to carry a travelogue story rather than a guide book and am glad I did it. This book is good to read if you are traveling or just have visited Burma (Myanmar). Thought the approach was novel - the author replicates the travel of Sir George Scott who helped establish British colonial rule in the 1850s. The book describes Burma in the eighties. Quite humorous and insightful for someone like me who hasn't read many travelogues and is unfamiliar with Burma. The only thing this bo...more
Finished the book. Did I like it? Not really. Men might enjoy the bits of fourth grade humor (farts, etc.). A gripe: surely after slogging through almost 300 pages and finally reaching the mythical Wa lake with the author and his friend, David, the reader deserves at least one photo of it. If you do choose to read this adventure don't skip the short Epilogue. Of course so much has changed (hopefully for the better) since it was written. It's definitely not a book to prepare you for a present day...more
Marvellous piece about George Scott - often known as Scott of the Hills - one of the preminent British soldiers-cum-researchers into the Shan State of Burma. Brilliantly told history, beautifully dense travelogue and funny to boot, Marshall brings Scott alive in this excellent work. A must read for anyone yearning to learn more about Burma than simple travel books and excerpts from AASK's past letters.
Sandra D
A good primer on Burma's British colonial history and its modern-day military dictatorship, as well as an entertaining travelogue. It isn't quite as good as Kevin Rushby's Children of Kali , which was written in a similar vein, but it does come close.
This is a good book if you want to understand Myanmar a little more deeply. You have to be interested in Myanmar to get the most from this book. Parts of it are more interesting than others, and if you're struggling I'd recommend going straight to the chapters on the Wa - this is the most intriguing part of the book.
Part travelogue, part history, part reportage, "The Trouser People" recounts the story of George Scott, the eccentric British explorer, photographer, adventurer, and later Colonial Administrator of Burma, who introduced the Empire's best game (soccer) to Burmese natives. of photos.
Provides an interesting counterpoint to Emma Larkin's work tracing an historical Brit through Burma. Larkin is more effective for her more nuanced politico-social viewpoints while Marshall focuses on empire and adventure, with an excellent ending.
Mar 05, 2007 rachel rated it 2 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: those who like history
The author takes a trip to Burma (again, I was preparing for my trip!) to retrace the steps of the famous Victorian adventurer George Scott. Interesting, but might be too much info for a casual reader.
Great story. Marshall used the experiences of British colonial administrator Sir George Scott as he explored Myanmar. true intrepid adventure and interesting history.
Good reading, following the path of George Scott. Informative about Burma, post independence.
Summer Lewis
Loved it. Candid, down-to-earth, and funny (but not over-the-top funny). Great read on Burma.
insightful travelogue about the history of Burma. you'll giggle too...
Tom & Beverly
another great read about Burma
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Andrew Marshall (born 1967) is a British journalist living in Bangkok, Thailand, who specializes in Asian topics.
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