Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Golden Earth: Travels in Burma” as Want to Read:
Golden Earth: Travels in Burma
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview

Golden Earth: Travels in Burma

4.06  ·  Rating details ·  162 ratings  ·  13 reviews
Despite communist incursions and tribal insurrection, Norman Lewis describes a land of breath-taking natural beauty peopled by the gentle Burmese. This is a country where Buddhist beliefs spare even the rats, where the Director of Prisons quotes Chaucer and where three-day theatrical shows are staged to celebrate a monk taking orders. Hitching lifts with the army and with ...more
Paperback, 275 pages
Published December 1st 1983 by Elan Press (first published 1952)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Golden Earth, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Golden Earth

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.06  · 
Rating details
 ·  162 ratings  ·  13 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Golden Earth: Travels in Burma
Dave Reid
Aug 31, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
An enjoyable read, written long before the country began to suffer under the military rule. While this is my first venture into the writings of Lewis, he has a more detatched style of observation than Theroux, particularly concerning those who he meets. The only real character in the book is Mr Pereira who he shares a railway carriage with and it is this close contact that probably gave more subject matter to play with. Others drift in and out of the book but seem to be confined to policeman, ...more
Peter Clark
Jan 25, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Casually picked up this book as I came across it after motorcycling around Thailand, Laos and Vietnam with plans to go back and continue explorations when Burma has opened up properly.
This is the best travel book I have ever read, and I like travel books.
His use of language is scintillating, stunning, gorgeous, expansive, precise and fabulous beyond almost anything I have ever read.
If Bill Bryson were Noel Coward with a splash of Oscar Wilde, he might have the temerity to dream of one day
Jeff Clay
Jul 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Never mind that this book was written over 60 years ago. Nor, that it was written about a very different Burma (now, Myanmar) than now exists. Golden Earth still reigns as a superlative travel book, filled with dry humor, trenchant observations, clear writing, a patient and patent willingness to subordinate comfort and expectations to achieve his goals, and a love for the places and people that are the Burma of the '50's.

Good travel writing is unique in that with a modicum passage of time, it
There are so many very good reviews of this book I'll just second the statements that this is an extremely well-written book by someone who could write (he passed away in 2003), with a sense of dry humour that found just the right phrase to describe the scarey mongrel dogs that are still as common as gnats in Burma, and nights fighting off cockroaches encroaching on his turf. I read a library copy so couldn't tick my favourite expressions, but one was described the unappealing, gaudy local ...more
Mark Walker
Dec 25, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Lewis is determined to discover the parts of Burma off the main thoroughfares. Some interesting observations on Burmese life and Buddism. He has a good eye for a surreal story and draws out a number of amusing incidents, such as the Rangoon express which doesn't go to Rangoon. Given the potential for opening up of Burma and loosening of the junta, this is a timely explanation of some of the ethnic groups and discussion of the Burmese approach to politics.
Tom Bentley
Oct 03, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Richly eccentric and fascinating work. Lewis insinuates himself into a 1950s Burma that is elusive, overrun with combative tribal and foreign forces, bureaucratic in the most head-scratching of ways, culturally distinct, layered, at times hysterically amusing and at other times incoherent and threatening. His language is as intrepid as his willingness to toss himself into a boiling pot of oddity. I just spent a week in Myanmar in much more refined circumstances—I wish I had Lewis's impulses to ...more
Jul 25, 2011 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Liked the parts where he went upcountry through the wilder, less populated minorities areas, and also the slow river boat journey back down the Irrawady, reminiscient of Heart of Darkness, complete with mock attacks from indigenous natives (in this case rebels). Descriptions of cultural life and festivals of endless variety as well, though of less personal interest. Last 2 pages summarizes his positive view of the country's prospects, sadly things went badly in the decades after as the military ...more
Charles Yee
Dec 17, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The vividly descriptive book filled my mind with the scenic pictures and interesting characteristics of the Burmese people. Every inch a page turner, it gives us an insight into the history of Burma, its state of affairs and the relationships among its government, people and nature during the time before it was ruled by the military junta.
Feb 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Terrific. If you read this before you go to Burma. it might not make sense--the scenes are so strange. But I read it after returning and it was exactly right in feeling, atmosphere and observations. Lewis is my favorite travel writer.
Sarah Gregory
May 07, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
A good travel book by a brave man. Like Colin Thubron, he likes to meet and talk to people gaining insights that way.
Apr 14, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel, burma
Sublime. Quotes to follow.
Apr 22, 2015 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Gentle travels in Burma.
Ex colonial world - so different. Lovely to get a perspective from those days.
Max Thomson
rated it it was amazing
Jun 05, 2014
Joe Harris
rated it really liked it
Sep 18, 2016
Nick Whitehead
rated it really liked it
Oct 01, 2019
rated it it was amazing
Aug 28, 2012
rated it really liked it
Mar 09, 2013
Carmen Teira
rated it really liked it
Nov 11, 2016
Ina Cawl
rated it it was amazing
Jun 10, 2016
Duncan Bay
rated it it was amazing
May 23, 2018
Rahul Malik
rated it it was amazing
Jan 28, 2016
rated it it was amazing
Jan 14, 2013
James Elliot
rated it it was amazing
Aug 24, 2018
rated it really liked it
Apr 19, 2019
rated it really liked it
Jun 15, 2013
Kaiyan Yeo
rated it it was amazing
Jul 23, 2016
rated it it was amazing
Oct 08, 2015
rated it really liked it
Sep 06, 2016
M.J. Johnson
rated it liked it
May 31, 2013
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »

Readers also enjoyed

  • سيدة الزمالك
  • The River of Lost Footsteps: Histories of Burma
  •  The Road Back to Paris (Modern Library)
  • Notes from a Sea Diary & Who Lost an American? The Travel Writings
  • The Royal Society: And the Invention of Modern Science
  • I, Steve: Steve Jobs In His Own Words
  • The Phoney Victory: The World War II Illusion
  • The Cellist of Sarajevo
  • King and Outlaw: The Real Robert the Bruce
  • Finding Everett Ruess: The Life and Unsolved Disappearance of a Legendary Wilderness Explorer
  • Hopper's Places
  • The Genesee Diary: Report from a Trappist Monastery
  • Burma Chronicles
  • Square-Rigged Ships: An Introduction
  • The Good Life: Helen and Scott Nearing's Sixty Years of Self-Sufficient Living
  • Shackleton's Boat Journey
  • From the Holy Mountain: A Journey Among the Christians of the Middle East
  • The Journal Of Brian Doyle: Greenhorn on an Alaskan Whaling Ship, The Florence, 1874 (My Name Is America)
See similar books…
Norman Lewis was a prolific British writer best known for his travel writing. Though not widely known, "Norman Lewis is one of the best writers, not of any particular decade, but of our century", according to Graham Greene.

Lewis served in World War II and wrote an account of his experiences during the Allied occupation of Italy, titled Naples '44. Shortly after the war he produced volumes about