Richard Cockett

A Country in Limbo

A Savage Dreamland: Journeys in Burma


Bloomsbury 374pp £20 order from our bookshop

In recent years, books, films and even plays, all of variable quality, have poured forth on almost every subject imaginable to do with Burma, from the old Burmese kings to the current de facto leader of the country, Aung San Suu Kyi, from economic reform to the genocide of the Rohingya. Some of the books have been academic, some too academic, and a good few rather thin.

David Eimer, a former correspondent for The Telegraph, has served up something refreshingly different: an old-fashioned travelogue, and an excellent one at that. The book is based on his travels to Burma (officially known as Myanmar) over the last decade or so, and he brings a sympathetic perspective to his subject. A Savage Dreamland is a rich and enjoyable mix of history, amateur psychology and personal reflection, with a few dabs of investigative journalism too. Eimer does not set out to untangle, let alone resolve, any of the big questions of recent times, such as why the generals handed over power to the civilian opposition in the first place and why those civilians have performed so disastrously, alienating most of their former supporters in the West through the treatment of the Rohingya. By way of compensation, however, Eimer often reaches the places, and people, that other writers – even most Burmese – never reach.

Sign Up to our newsletter

Receive free articles, highlights from the archive, news, details of prizes, and much more.

Follow Literary Review on Twitter

  • Last Tweets

    • Tarantino's latest film is 'a fairy tale about Hollywood, where fantasy is an industrial product and the boulevards… ,
    • 'I don’t think we’re here on Earth to be Happy. I think we’re here on Earth to help God. I am a messianic writer'.… ,
    • 'Darley’s book is not a mad dash through this most compelling and complex of English counties. Nor is it another ti… ,
    • 'Moser’s book offers such a gripping account of a profoundly damaged human being, trapped in a cycle of repetition,… ,
    • 'Ideas that I’d thought were set down in full continue to smoulder ... this book is only a snapshot of some larger… ,
    • 'Full of invention which, at its most pedestrian, is eminently Victorian, and at its most unrestrained wildly imagi… ,
    • 'What in other hands could have been a dry, pedantic account of Christianity’s birth and evolution becomes in Holla… ,