If you have an interest in either Burma (now Myanmar) or George Orwell, you would find this to be a quick read. Emma Larkin's central argument is that Burma has become a living example of the totalitarian rule depicted in Orwell's 1984: the torture of political dissents; the omnipotent rule of the "Big Brother"-like junta; the highly effective intelligence network based on informants; the ability of the government to cower and destroy the individual. Orwell spent time as a colonial police officer in Burma, and Larkin travels to the places he lived and worked. She combines her experiences in Burma with historical research to come up with Orwell's opinions and frame of mind while he was in the colony, and how it affected his writing. Unfortunately, like all of Orwell's novels, the book doesn't have a happy ending. Burma's future looks pretty bleak. Reading '1984' - as well as the other 2 books in the "Burma trilogy", 'Burmese Days' and 'Animal Farm' - would probably make this a richer read, but I don't think it's necessary.