John Keay

Regilding the Pagoda

Blood, Dreams and Gold: The Changing Face of Burma

By Richard Cockett

Yale University Press 275pp £18.99 order from our bookshop

The one time I felt positive towards a dictatorship was over breakfast in Rangoon’s Strand Hotel. It was 1984, a good year to be visiting the city where George Orwell spent many of his Burmese days. Aung San Suu Kyi was still a housewife in Oxford; no one in Rangoon had heard of her. The only political programme on offer was the ‘Burmese Way to Socialism’, an ideology that Richard Cockett’s Blood, Dreams and Gold describes as an ‘incoherent mishmash of undigested, out-of-date political and economic bunkum’. Across town General Ne Win, the programme’s golf-loving champion, was just beginning the seventeenth year of his detested military dictatorship. 

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