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Burma/Myanmar: What Everyone Needs to Know

3.52  ·  Rating details ·  134 Ratings  ·  26 Reviews
In the past two decades, Burma/Myanmar has become a front-page topic in newspapers across the world. This former British colony has one of the most secretive, corrupt, and repressive regimes on the planet, yet it houses a Nobel Peace Prize winner who is and in and out of house arrest. It has an ancient civilization that is mostly unknown to Westerners, yet it was an import ...more
Paperback, 217 pages
Published November 1st 2009 by Oxford University Press, USA (first published 2009)
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Sep 25, 2015 rated it liked it
Shelves: travel-the-world
To be honest, I knew nothing about Myanmar before I read this book, I was able to get a feel for some of the problems that face the country.

The reason that I didn't rate this book higher is because I didn't like the style. The author set forth questions, and then answered them. The problem with this is that the answers were repetitive, and I found myself becoming very bored.

So, what did I learn? Myanmar is very similar to North Korea (in my estimation). The military rules the nation, and will
Good introduction to the political history of Burma/Myanmar. Particularly fascinating to see the role and centrality of Buddhist philosophy (or what it is interpreted to be) in Burmese polity. A big downside is constant repetition within and between chapters which takes away from narrative flow. An update with a commentary on the current political regime would be a valuable addition!
Mar 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: burma
A good primer, very easy to follow. But the forced optimism is off-putting; you can feel the author himself doesn't quite believe his positive predictions for the country's future. I felt that he could have just stayed neutral instead of putting up false optimism for his readers.
Jan 01, 2010 rated it it was ok
I was hoping for something that showed Burma up close, but this book seems to have been written from afar, digging little deeper than a college-level essay written from materials found in the campus library. Steinberg certainly has domain expertise, but this book came across as sterile and shallow.
Jan 25, 2010 rated it liked it
Good for the info, but the construction is all over the place.
Mar 03, 2017 rated it liked it
A good first read about the socio-political and cultural world of Burma/Myanmar (political reasons for dual names). The book does not have any reference as the views expressed are authors interpretation of the situation. So one cannot use it to make any claims but it is a concise read about the people, foreign policy and issues within the country. The writing is in a question and answer format.
It helped build an understanding of the country that one can use to read further.
Mar 25, 2011 rated it really liked it
A very good (and very current) overview of the current political situation in Myanmar. Covers the past context, with its largest section looking firmly at events since the 1988 "coup". Balanced in its opinions and discusses why the current "sanction and embargo the crap out of them" approach isn't working (and hasn't ever worked).

The book is a quick read for a dry topic, and is organized in chapters chronologically, with each chapter divided into sections addressing different questions ("How doe
Lucy Cruickshanks
Apr 05, 2013 rated it really liked it
The best introductory book I've found on Burma/Myanmar. Clearly and concisely written and structured in a Q&A style, it's great for flicking through and finding information about specific issues in an extremely quick and accessible way. Critically, it also provides balanced opinions, presenting information as much less black and white than many commentaries. Instead it acknowledges the complications in society that drive and prevent progress, without passing judgement explicitly.

If you're lo
Wouter Sligter
Feb 15, 2013 rated it liked it
This book is insightful and it is clear that Steinberg is an expert on Burma. The book is structured by means of Q&A. Due to this choice of structuring and the author's (very) extensive answers full of small facts the book reads more difficult than necessary, in my opinion. Also, the book is partly outdated because it was written when the country was still very closed off and Aung Sun Suu Kyi was still under house arrest.

If you're looking for a factual representation of Burmese history with
Feb 18, 2014 rated it liked it
With all the changes that have just recently taken place in Maynmar, it is hard not to feel like something is missing from this book. That said, it does provide a good background. The book takes the format of questions and answers, a format I normally don't like. But unlike sometimes where the answers skirt around the questions, this book doesn't. The questions are provided by the author who then proceeds to answer them. Anyone who is interested with Mayanmar/Burma would do well to read this boo ...more
An very comprehensive look at Burma, in terms of culture, history, politics and its present transformation. Because of the massive scope of this work, it is necessarily broad. However it is the perfect starting point for anyone who wants to better understand the nature of the Burmese regime, and knows little or nothing about the country. Great for the academic or non-academic to use as a starting point on Burma.
Tom DiChristopher
Jan 12, 2011 rated it really liked it
The presentation is no nonsense, very matter of fact, but Steinberg provides a fantastic framework for considering Burma/Myanmar. Paricularly strong: tracking the politcal path towards the rise of the junta, contextualizing the regime's paranoia, analyzing how confrontational policy may only make matters worse and acknowledging the dangers of having a four-word policy towards Burma/Myanmar: Aung San Suu Kyi.
Philippe Lazaro
Nov 19, 2016 rated it it was ok
Shelves: human-rights
Myanmar is probably one of the more perplexing countries out there, and while traveling through Southeast Asia and meeting some refugees from the country, I became really interested in learning what was going on.

This book served as a pretty good primer. It leaned a little to the academic side, but in spite of that it wasn't too dry. Not exactly a page turner, either, but the information was rich and well presented.
Azeem Azimuddin
I do not necessarily agree with some of the opinions but still it as important read for anyone interested in Myanmar. These are exciting times with risks but potentially open upside. Understanding some of the historical, ethnic and social context can be an important differentiator separating success and failure.
Jul 11, 2013 rated it liked it
Just got back from Myanmar, and this book was a great, fast, and easy introduction. That said, "What Everybody Needs to Know" is a bit of an overstatement. How about "What Some People Ought to Know"?
Hunter Marston
Apr 25, 2010 rated it really liked it
This was an excellent overview, starting point, full of great statistics and a comprehensive general history. It lacks in heavy analysis, but that's the nature of this book. Steinberg is an authority on the subject and has much more to say in other forums.
Heather Mumaw
Aug 25, 2014 rated it liked it
Super dense. Been picking up this book on and off again for the last 2 years. It might give you so much information that it's hard to retain it, but I'm glad I read it considering I knew nothing about Burma before.
Michael Sautter
There's a lot of relevant information packed into this book but it is a bit dry reading.
Barbara Fang
Mar 30, 2011 rated it liked it
Well. Burma is fucked.
Anwen Garston
Nov 10, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: travel
This book's a bit dry and repetitive and not the most exciting to read but it's very informative. A must read for anyone going to visit Burma.
Gerry Connolly
Jun 09, 2016 rated it it was ok
David Steinberg's narrative of the military's control of Burma since 1962. Problem: he fails to predict last year's election, Aung San Suu Kyi's triumph and the military's retreat.
Dana Schmidt
Jan 21, 2015 rated it liked it
Informative about the country; could have been written more compellingly
Reza Amiri Praramadhan
Apr 18, 2016 rated it liked it
Shelves: read-ebooks
Although it is obsolete in context of the contemporaries, it still can answer many questions on Myanmar's history and give some understanding on Myanmar's contemporary history.
Sep 23, 2013 rated it liked it
Very helpful introduction to Myanmar. I was not entirely comfortable with the Question and Answers format, but David Steinberg certainly knows Myanmar and successfully shares his knowledge
Ying Yao
rated it really liked it
Jan 04, 2017
Komal Parveen
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Jan 11, 2014
Thadoe Wai
rated it really liked it
Jan 12, 2013
Azalea Safwan
rated it it was amazing
Jun 08, 2013
Mollie Pepper
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Nov 21, 2015
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Goodreads Librari...: add cover art 2 10 Sep 18, 2015 08:28PM  
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