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

3.92  ·  Rating Details ·  181 Ratings  ·  24 Reviews
Andrew Marshall has written an unforgettable adventure story, the wry account of two journeys into the untraveled heart of Burma. 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 (soc ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published June 12th 2003 by Counterpoint (first published 2002)
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The Glass Palace by Amitav GhoshBurmese Days by George OrwellFrom the Land of Green Ghosts by Pascal Khoo ThweThe River of Lost Footsteps by Thant Myint-ULetters from Burma by Aung San Suu Kyi
24th out of 72 books — 49 voters
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Adventure Travel & Exploration In Asia
181st out of 204 books — 101 voters

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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Aug 27, 2012 Max rated it did not like it
Shelves: travel, memoir, gave-up
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
Oct 26, 2016 Choltanutkun rated it really liked it
Growing up in Thailand, we were taught specific things about Burma in school and never this kind of stories, I've really gained some new respect for those people now after this book. Andrew has a very fun, adventurous way of writing that turns a history into something not boring. I enjoyed this book very much, it was so new and a breath of fresh air. David was my favourite character. The book was rather unexpected and very adventurous, though I'm only giving it 4-star because some writing was a ...more
Oct 13, 2013 Jonathan rated it liked it
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
Ellis Amdur
Jan 16, 2015 Ellis Amdur rated it really liked it
A very enjoyable travelogue and history book, with a heart of outrage. Marshall recovers the history of one of the great Victorian adventurer/imperialists, the five-foot- and-a-little George Scott, who brought the Shan States and other tribal areas into modern Burma, introduced soccer, and explored some of the most exotic (to us) peoples on earth. Scott was an example of what Jack London called “the inevitable white man,” so convinced of his own rectitude and superiority that he carried whole na ...more
Ted Gault
Jan 27, 2014 Ted Gault rated it liked it
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
Apr 03, 2012 Subvert rated it really liked it
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
Nay Lin Soe
Mar 12, 2015 Nay Lin Soe rated it really liked it
Shelves: history
It's great to read about the customs and history of the people who live in very remote areas of Myanmar, almost in isolation. The book flows with partly recounting the relevant history as recorded by a 19th-century British adventurer, George Scott, and partly recording the modern-day travel experience of the author. Many facts presented are very little known even to those who were born and raised in Myanmar. The prose is engaging, with very witty humour in places.

Among many things, I read with
Jul 25, 2011 Ryan rated it it was ok
Shelves: colonial
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
May 22, 2009 Monta rated it liked it
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
Daniel Kipp
Apr 10, 2014 Daniel Kipp rated it really liked it
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
Oct 02, 2012 Mona rated it it was ok
Shelves: burma
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
Sabita Mehra
Apr 02, 2013 Sabita Mehra rated it really liked it
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
Sandra D
Jun 10, 2008 Sandra D rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: southeast-asia
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.
Jul 27, 2011 Cjsavage rated it it was amazing
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.
Feb 19, 2013 Ruth rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jul 12, 2011 Nicholas rated it liked it
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.
Apr 23, 2012 Melanie rated it really liked it
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.
Mar 05, 2007 rachel rated it it was ok
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.
Jul 28, 2008 Doug rated it it was amazing
Great story. Marshall used the experiences of British colonial administrator Sir George Scott as he explored Myanmar. true intrepid adventure and interesting history.
Jan 20, 2016 Catherine rated it really liked it
Shelves: i-have-it
The Trouser People reads like great travel literature and explores colonial history. Worth reading. It's going on my Burma reference book shelf.
Torbjørn rated it really liked it
Apr 05, 2011
Tony Heath
Tony Heath rated it it was amazing
Aug 20, 2015
Kelsey rated it it was amazing
Sep 12, 2007
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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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