Description - Among Insurgents by Shelby Tucker
An adventure story of real risk-taking and the heroic age of travel. Ten years ago, at the age of 53, Shelby Tucker set out to cross Burma on foot from China to India when land access to Burma was forbidden. Tucker had a rucksack, a diary and some inaccurate maps. He recruited a 6ft 4in Swede, Mats, whom he had met on the train to Beijing. Near the beginning of their walk through the jungle they encountered a group of naked boys bathing - they realized too late that their Chinese Army uniforms were on the banks. With typical sangfroid, Tucker leapt in to join them, shouting incomprehensible English greetings...Before long they were in the hands of the Kachin Independence Army and managed to survive many near misses with the Burmese Army. Despite pain and constant danger, Tucker recorded each day the vivid beauty of the country, and the courtesy and hospitality of the Kachins (the most important of Burma's hidden colonies, about whom very little has been written). Among Insurgents was Colin Thubron's Book of the Year, The Guardian's number 1 travel hardback and the Sunday Times' number 2.
It recevied warm acclaim from Anthony Sattin ('packed with insights into tribal identity and the opium trade'), Robert Carver ('outstandingly well written in the insouciant Peter Fleming tradition'), Sara Wheeler ('a thrilling book') and it must surely be shortlised for the Thomas Cook Award.
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(197mm x 130mm x 27mm)
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
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Book Reviews - Among Insurgents by Shelby Tucker
UK Kirkus Review »
Towards the end of this book Dr Michael Aris asks Carole Tucker, 'Why did your husband go to Burma Mrs Tucker?' Carole replies, 'He thought it might be fun'. 'Burma is not about fun,' said Dr Aris 'and do you know who I am?' Dr Aris who was married to Aung San Suu kyi, died in 1999. Aung San Suu kyi has been much in the news this year for her continuing battle against the oppressive military regime in Burma, a regime which has systematically denied her the right to rule her people even after she had won an election. She has been under house arrest for many years and this year was even under car arrest for several days. There are parallels between her struggle and that of Nelson Mandela. Burma, which has had long links with Britain is increasingly closed to the world and ostracized by most Governments. Ruled by an oppressive military regime it is divided on religious and ethnic lines and is a major player in the worlds drug trade and yet the very names Rangoon and Manderlay immortalized in song, conjure up tranquillity and the exotic Far East. The reality and the history of this country, impervious to world opinion, is captured in this travel book, which manages to combine an overview of Burmese history with a remarkable journey made by the American Shelby Tucker and his Swedish, companion Mats Larsson. Tucker and his companion cross into and leave Burma over Borders closed to foreigners and make much of their journey on foot whilst constantly lying about their real destination or intentions to checkpoints and groups of rebels who capture them. It is both a scholarly work and a fascinating story that leaves the reader marvelling at the naivety of a trained lawyer deciding to enter Burma by foot with a companion he first encountered on a train. That such travel is possible in such an environment of suspicion, intrigue and danger is remarkable enough, but the fact that they both survived to tell the tale is extraordinary. Tucker leaves the reader with a very different view of contemporary Burma under the Junta than the picture painted some years ago by John Masters in his books. In the end one is left feeling less than optimistic about the immediate future but with a greater insight into why that judgement is made. (Kirkus UK)
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Author Biography - Shelby Tucker
Shelby Tucker is an American who read law at Oxford and practised for many years. He had addressed the US National Security Council on Burma and lectured on the Kachins and the Burmese Civil War at the School of Oriental and African Studies, the Royal Scottish Geographical Society and elsewhere. He has also acted as General Counsel for the National Coalition Government of the Union of Burma.