A Book List

At the end of 2013 my uncle Arthur died, and he left me his books on Burma. There were sixty-three books which I lugged back to Canada from London. For years I have been a member of Librarything, an online site that makes it very easy to catalogue your books, read reviews, talk to other book lovers and generally revel in being a bibliophile. I started cataloguing our book collection in fits and starts. It is nowhere near being finished (a thousand plus vintage Penguins? Richard’s five bookcases in his study? More cookbooks?) I may die before it is done.

Nearly 1700 Penguins

Nearly 1700 Penguins

Anyway, I thought it would be good to add the books on Burma. I joined two reading challenges for 2014: Read 75 books and read 100 books within the year. So, I started a thread on both challenges and have posted each book as I read it along with a short review for most of them. So far, as of August 17th, I have read sixty, with only two being off topic. I have expanded a little into history of the Raj and the war in the East.

I have found books online through Googlebooks and through university collections. I found books on Abe and Amazon. I found amazing books in secondhand shops and thrift sales. The most unusual was “The Frogmen of Burma,” which I have yet to read. I now have more than one hundred and fifty books in the collection, (250 + as of August 2016) and it is growing! Once you have added a book to your Librarything list it compares it with the more than two million members and tells you how many other members have your book. I seem to have forty books that no one else has. Not many people would find them that fascinating. Indeed, I didn’t at first.

Burma bookcase. I need to annex some shelf space from the next stack.

Burma bookcase. I need to annex some shelf space from the next stack.

Until deciding to do the challenges, I would have classified myself as strictly a mystery reader with the odd biography thrown in. I didn’t read history or philosophy. I wanted something easy that I could sink into the couch with, along with a cup of tea and a sweet treat. At first I forced myself to read some of the books. “The Soul of a People,” was worth the slog, and gradually I expanded. Now I can tackle just about anything, including analyses of battles in the Burma Campaign. I may have to ask Richard about some words and general context, but the pattern is slowly sinking into my underused brain. Now, I am not saying I could pass an exam on Burmese history. The fog of middle aged forgetfulness rules that right out. But I feel I could listen to a lecture on any subject to do with pre-war Burma and not be totally lost.

My next challenge (which might have to take place next year) will be to read through modern books on Burma’s political situation. The few I have dipped into seem incredibly dense and turgid in their prose compared to those written before 1960. The authors are trying to deal with a complex subject by throwing masses of facts and footnotes into each chapter and also trying to avoid forming an opinion, in case they are accused of having a bias. What results, I fear is practically unreadable. To me a clever writer is one who slices through the Gordian knot of  too much information and re-arranges the threads, smoothing the kinks with his conclusions. These conclusions will naturally be biased because he chooses which facts he thinks are important. There is nothing wrong with reading such books as long as you read a selection of them with differing opinions. Then, of course, you can make up your own mind as to what opinion to hold.

Below is my list of books read so far. I will be adding more as I finish them. At the right hand side of any page on the blog you will find all the Burma books I have, catalogued on Librarything.

January

1. Bombs Over Burma by Wifred Burchett
2. The Footprints of Elephant Bill by Susan Williams
3. Life in the Burmese Jungle by A.A. Lawson
4. Curries & Bugles: A Memoir & Cookbook of the British Raj by Jennifer Brennan
5. Mogok, The Valley of Rubies by Joseph Kessel
6. Mandalay the Golden by E.C.V. Foucar
7. The Railway Man by Eric Lomax
8. The Foot of the Rainbow: A Writer’s Autobiography by Dorothy Black
9. Letters of an Indian Judge to an English Gentlewoman by Anonymous
10. The Soul of a People by H. Fielding Hall
11. Rough Pencillings of a Rough Trip to Rangoon in 1846 by Colesworthy Grant

February

12. Secret Rooms by Catherine Bailey
13. Golden Earth by Norman Lewis
14. Burmese Lessons: A True Love Story by Karen Connelly
15. The Sawbwa and His Secretary by C. Y. Lee
16. Burmese Interlude by C. V. Warren
17. Lords of the Sunset by Maurice Collis
18. Land of the Crested Lion: A Journey Through Modern Burma by Ethel Mannin
19. Tales of Burma by Alistair McCrae
20. The Rogue Elephant by A. R. Channel

March

21. The Road From Mandalay by J. S. Vorley
22. Prisoner’s Bluff by Rolf Magener
23. Women of the Raj: The mothers, Wives, and Daughters of the British Empire in India by Margaret MacMillan
24. Burmese Silver by Edward Thompson
25. Under the Dragon: Travels in a Betrayed Land by Rory MacLean
26. Quartered Safe Out Here by George MacDonald Fraser
27. Burmese Outpost by Anthony Irwin

April

28. Peacocks and Pagodas by Paul Edmonds
29. The ‘Incumberances’: British Women in India, 1615-1856 by Joan Mickelson Gaughan
30. Burma: The Next Killing Fields? by Alan Clements
31. Branch Line to Burma by John Durnford
32. Burma Surgeon by Gordon Seagrave
33. Burma Surgeon Returns by Gordon Seagrave
34. Bewitched by Burma by Ann Carter
35. Burmese Family by Mi Mi Khaing
36. Last and First in Burma by Maurice Collis
37. The Long Trek: Burma 1942 by John Friend

May

38. The Road Past Mandalay by John Masters
39. On a Short Leash: Detained in Burma by Mr. Ron Zakreski
40. Out of India: A Raj Childhood by Michael Foss
41. Below the Peacock Fan: First Ladies of the Raj by Marian Fowler
42. Return to Burma by Bernard Fergusson
43. British Rule in Burma, 1824-1942 by G. E. Harvey

June

44. The Rats of Rangoon by Lionel Hudson
45. The Gurkhas by Byron E. Farwell
46. Bamboo and Bushido by Alfred Allbury
47. The Forgotten Army: A Burma Soldier’s Story in Letters, Photographs and Sketches by James Fenton
48. A Journey in Time: Family, Memoirs (Burma 1914-1948) by Wai Wai Myaing
49. Survivor on the River Kwai by Reg Twigg
50. A Personal Narrative of Two Years’ Imprisonment in Burmah, 1824-26 by Henry Gouger
51. A Journey in Burma: 1861-62 by Adolf Bastian

July

52. The Image of War, or Service on the Chin Hills by A. G. E. Newland
53. The Case of the Love Commandos by Tarquin Hall
54. The Hump by Jack Barnard, M.C.
55. Through the Jungle of Death by Stephen Brookes
56. One Fourteenth of an Elephant by Ian Denys Peek

August

57. And the Dawn Came Up Like Thunder by Leo Rawlings
58. Railroad of Death by John Coast
59. The Emperor’s Guest by John Fletcher-Cooke
60. Horror in the East by Laurence Rees

September

61. We Gave Our Today: Burma 1941-1945 by William Fowler
62. Notes From An Even Smaller Island by Neil Humphreys
63. Scribbles From the Same Island by Neil Humphreys
64. Final Notes From a Great Island: A Farewell Tour of Singapore by Neil Humphreys
65. The World My Country: The Story of Daw Nyein Tha of Burma by Marjorie Procter
66. History of the Armenians in India by Mesrovb J. Seth

October

67. A Bachelor Girl in Burma by G. E. Mitton

November

68. Everything I Never Told You by Celeste Ng
69. A People at School by H. Fielding Hall
70. Helen of Burma by Helen Rodriguez
71. Bandoola by J. H. Williams
72. The Narrow Road to the Deep North by Richard Flanagan

December

73. Passing On by Penelope Lively
74. Perfect Happiness by Penelope Lively
75. Return Via Rangoon by Philip Stibbe
76. How It All Began: A Novel by Penelope Lively

Update for 2015

I’m continuing to read mostly books about Burma and am trying for 75 books by the end of the year.

January

1. Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking by Susan Cain

February

2. Cleopatra’s Sister by Penelope Lively
3. Rip Tide by Stella Rimington
4. The Miniaturist by Jessie Burton
5. Prisoner Beyond the Chindwin by Hilda R. Corpe
6. Jungle Story: The True Story of Freddie Spencer Chapman by Brian Moynahan
7. The Forgotten Highlander by Alistair Urquhart
8. City of the Mind by Penelope Lively
9. Beyond the Chindwin by Bernard Fergusson
10. The Wild Green Earth by Bernard Fergusson

March

11. Sisters, Secrets and Sacrifice by Susan Ottaway
12. Safer Than a Known Way by Ian MacHorton and Henry Maule
13. Indian Diary and Album by Cecil Beaton
14. Exodus to a Hidden Valley by Eugene Morse
15. The Ruling Caste: Imperial Lives in the Victorian Raj by David Gilmour
16. Sea of Poppies by Amitav Ghosh

April

17. Burma Invaded: 1942 by Major C. M. Enriquez
18. Brewing Storm: 1939-41 by C. M. Enriquez
19. River of Smoke by Amitav Ghosh
20. Irrawaddy Flotilla by Alistair McRae
21. A Burmese Enchantment by C. M. Enriquez
22. Chocolate Wars: The 150 Year Rivalry Between the World’s a Greatest Chocolate Makers
23. A Burmese Loneliness: A Tale of Travel in Burma, the Southern Shan States and Kengtung by C. M. Enriquez
24. A Burmese Wonderland: A Tale of Travel in Lower and Upper Burma by C. M. Enriquez

May

25. An English Girl’s First Impressions of Burma by Beth Ellis
26. Strange Tales From East to West by C. M. Enriquez
27. The Golden Road to Modernity: Village Life in Contemporary Burma by Manning Nash.
28. Burma – Memories of WWII by Sandra Campagnac-Carney
29. The Burma Cookbook: Recipes from the land of a million pagodas by Robert Carmack
30. Yangon Echoes: Inside Heritage Homes by Virginia Henderson
31. Ginger Salad and Water Wafers: Recipes from Myanmar by Ma Thanegi
32. A Marriage in Burmah: A Novel by Mabel Cosgrove Wodehouse-Pearse, or Mrs. Chan-Toon
33. Told on the Pagoda: Tales of Burmah by Mrs. Chan-toon

June

34. The Autobiography of a Wanderer in England & Burma edited by Sandra Campagnac-Carney
35. Burmese Lives: Ordinary Life Stories under the Burmese Regime by Eric Tagliacozzo
36. The Golden Dagon; or Up and Down the Irrawaddi by John Williamson Palmer
37. Burmah: A Photographic Journey, 1855-1925 by Noel F. Singer

July

38. The World of Burmese Women by Mi Mi Khaing
39. The Traveller’s History of Burma by Gerry Abbott
40. Not Out Of Hate: A Novel of Burma by Ma Ma Lay
41. Burma: Painted and Described by R. Talbot Kelly
42. The Changing of Kings; Memories of Burma 1934-1949 by Leslie Glass
43. Burma – Gateway to China by H. G. Deignan
44. Among Pagodas and Fair Ladies by Gwendolen Trench Gascoigne

August

45. Inside a Soviet Embassy: Experiences of a Russian Diplomat in Burma by Aleksandr Kaznacheev
46. Ma Ma Hta: Burmese Headwoman – 1940’s by Denise Macdonald
47. Land of the Great Image by Maurice Collis
48. Last of the Guardians by David Donnison

September

49. Early English Intercourse with Burma 1587-1743 by D. G. E. Hall
50. A Burmese Heart by Yan, Y. M. V. and Tinsa Maw-Naing
51. The River of Lost Footsteps by Thant Myint-U
52. Every Common Bush by Patricia Rorke

October

53.  Burmese Lacquerware by Sylvia Fraser-Lu
54. Lacquerware in Asia, today and yesterday edited by Monika Kopplin
55. Burma as I Saw It: 1889-1917 by R. Grant Brown
56. Burmese Crafts: Past and Present by Sylvia Fraser-Lu
57. Why Buddha Smiles by Jorgen Bisch
58. A Cambodian Prison Portrait: One Year in the Khmer Rouge’s S-21 by Vann Nath
59. The Girl in the Picture by Denise Chong
60. Letters From Burma by Aung San Suu Kyi

November

61. Bittersweet by Colleen McCullough
62. Hsaba: Burmese Cookbook by Tin Cho Chaw
63. The Broken Token by Chris Nickson
64. The Black House by Peter May
65. The Gentleman in the Parlour by Somerset Maugham

December

66. Cold Cruel Winter by Chris Nickson
67. Burma by F. S. V. Donnison
68. City of Dreadful Night by Peter Gutteridge
69. The Child’s Child by Barbara Vine

Well, didn’t make my library thing goal of 75 books this year. Must try harder!

2016

This year I will just list the books on Burma and related books on India and Colonial history here, while keeping my full reading list on librarything.

  1. Defiled on the Ayeyarwaddy: one woman’s mid-life travel adventures on Myanmar’s greatest River by Ma Thanegi
  2. Burma Road by Nicol Smith
  3. Lines From a Shining Land edited by Derek Brooke-Wavell
  4. With the Jungle Folk: A Sketch of Burmese Village Life by E. D. Cuming
  5. The Journey Outward: an Autobiography by Maurice Collis
  6. Into Hidden Burma by Maurice Collis
  7. Myanmar in my Lifetime by ‘K’
  8. A Civil Servant in Burma by Herbert Thirkell White
  9. A Year on the Irrawaddy by E. M. P-B
  10. The  Care and Management of Elephants in Burma by A. J. Ferrier
  11. Three Kisses of the Cobra: A Novel by Z. T. Balian
  12. The Journey Up; Reminiscence 1934-68 by Maurice Collis
  13. The Silken East: A Record of  Life & Travel in Burma by V. C. O’Connor
  14. A Dog’s Life in Burma, told by the Dog
  15. Burma Bibliography by Patricia Herbert
  16. Elephant Company by Vicki Croke
  17. Unfinished Symphony by George M. Stirling
  18. Chota Sahib…You’ve Had a Busy Day by Charles Nida
  19. To the Elephant Graveyard by Tarquin Hall
  20. Wanderings in Burma by George W. Bird
  21. Sanda Mala by Maurice Collis
  22. Back to Mandalay by Gerry Abbott
  23. Inroads into Burma edited by Gerry Abbot
  24. Captain Linnaeus Tripe: Photographer of India and Burma 1852-1860 by Roger Taylor et al
  25. Climbing the Mango Trees: A memoir of childhood in India
  26. Of Roots and Wings: A memoir by Wyai Wyai  Myaing
  27. Irrawaddy Tango: A novel by Wendy Law-Yone
  28. I Lived in Burma by E. C. V. Foucar
  29. A Short Stint in Burma: A Thriller by Ernest Aebi
  30. A Burmese Arcady by C. M. Enriquez
  31. Forgotten Land by Gordon Hunt
  32. Not Forgetting the Elephants by Charles Braimer Jones
  33. The Peacock Pagoda by Alex Stuart
  34. One More River by Gordon Hunt
  35. Escape to Bagan by Brian Devereux

 

 

 

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10 Responses to A Book List

  1. Eve says:

    Dear
    Thanks indeed, very useful site for us research history and path of Burma.
    With keep in touch.
    Eve.

    • Chinthe Chaser says:

      To Eve from the Yangon Heritage Trust,
      Thank you. I am very interested in all the good you do to preserve the important Colonial buildings in Yangon. I have started collecting old postcards of these buildings which you can view on this blog (see Burma Postcards just below the banner at the top of the page.)

  2. Carl Anacoura says:

    Fascinating and useful list, thank you. Book #24, Burmese Silver- could you tell me where the novel is set? My grandfather used to work in the silver and jade mines, in Namtu after WWII, until the 1950s.

    • Chinthe Chaser says:

      Hi Carl,
      The novel is set in the Chindwin Valley and the northeastern parts of Burma and its border with China, before the First World War. It is quite fanciful and written in a very old fashioned style, but worth reading to discover the kinds of attitudes held by the colonial Britons at that time.

  3. Andrew Selth says:

    Those interested in this subject may find it helpful to consult the second edition of my bibliography of books and reports on Burma published since 1988, found online at https://www.griffith.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0020/716060/Burma-Uprising-2ed-web-2015.pdf. It includes an essay on those works that might be useful for anyone new to Burma studies, or who is planning to visit the country for the first time.

    • Sharman says:

      Dear Andrew Selth,

      Thank you for this extensive bibliography which is useful for all Burma enthusiasts. There might be some books in my list here, or on my Librarything page (where all my books are listed, read or unread) that would be of interest to you.

      Sharman

  4. richard carlyon says:

    Dear Sharman, just looking at your book list,at least Master of Arts level. Just to say that Mesrovb Seth wrote two versions of his book ‘History of the Armenians in India’ and changed his stance completely, first version was Anglophile, second version was Anglophobe. The result perhaps of the supine English attitude towards the Ittihad and their bloody and treacherous ways. I mention this in my thesis. How I wish you and Richard had visited me with a large empty rucsack, I have hundreds of books to give away, I need the shelf space. xR.

  5. Mia Kruska says:

    Dear Sharman,

    my name is Mia Kruska and I write a essay for university about photography in Burma. I’m wondering if you know any literature about why the photography came so late to burma compare to other asien countries.
    Do you have any hint or idea? Would be so helpful!

    warm regards
    Mia

    • Sharman says:

      Hello Mia, photography did not arrive late in Burma, quite the contrary. If you look at my post on Linnaeus Tripe, you will see that it was being photographed almost as early as photography was popularised. If you look at my collection of Burmese postcards, you will see many from the early 1900’s. Even those sometimes use a photo taken long before, in the 1870-1890’s. There is no single book on the complete history of photography in Burma yet, but names to look out for are Tripe, Philip Klier, J. Jackson, Willoughby Wallace Hooper, Felice Beato and D.A.Ahuja. The British Library site has digitised many photos that you can view. Good luck with your essay!

  6. Mia Kruska says:

    Thank you very much! Great help!

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