Eimer, formerly the Telegraph’s Asia correspondent, is one of the best travel writers to focus on politics and current affairs... One aspect of the country today that Eimer surprisingly doesn’t discuss is tourism — which in fact has grown into a major industry. Burma has finally ended the silence that has shrouded it for so long. During my trips there I’ve found the people to be some of the friendliest in the Indian subcontinent, not least because they are getting used to visitors again. Even if the generals swipe most of tourism’s revenues, increasing contact with the outside world is beginning to raise local aspirations and fuel pressure for reform. In the meantime, Eimer’s wide-ranging portrait of a country in straits as dire as they’re prolonged is both fascinating and troubling.
Eimer’s powerful account reveals a country plundered and brutalised during the colonial era and decades of autocratic rule, while struggling to come to terms with the reality of its present ethnic and religious diversity.
His book is a good primer on history, culture and modern-day politics, and on the power wielded by the Buddhist hierarchy. But it's the realities of daily life that really interest him: Yangon residents in liftless buildings hoisting shopping to top-floor apartments with ropes and bulldog clips; sea-gipsies on the southernmost islands who swam before they walked, but can’t tell him how old they are because they have never been to school; the young Rohingya man who couldn’t collect his degree because he had been denied an ID card – which his mother acquired by “donating” a £5,000 Jeep to an official... If Orwell could read A Savage Dreamland, he would be impressed, surely, by this choral-voiced account of a country where so many, for so long, have been silenced.