The Making of Modern Burma by Thant Myint Oo
This is a good history book. It provides the reader with a fairly broad background history of Burma (describing ‘traditional’ (ie 18th and early 19th century) society, culture, religion, politics, etc) , then narrates in a straight forward way what the author describes as the country formative transition to the modern world – the nineteenth and early centuries, when the region which we now know as Burma was created and annexed to the British Indian empire.
Its not only about Burma though – it also about how(as the author explains in his conclusions many medium sized non-western country, which remained independent until late in the nineteenth century, tried desperately to ‘modernize'(Siam, Persia, Egypt are other obvious examples) and failed – and the consequences of this failure, which in Burma’s case, echos still today
It also has lots of amusing stories, annecdotes etc. Its fairly focused however on its key theme, and one wishes at times for a better view of what was going on in the Shan states and other parts of what become ‘modern Burma’.
Its a good read if youre interested in either Asian or British colonial history.