Book review

Travelling in the shadows of Myanmar’s past

“On the Shadow Tracks, A Journey Through Occupied Myanmar” takes readers around the country by rail, exploring questions of injustice, colonialism, and memory

To the British mind, railways naturally evoke nostalgia: tiny train stations in idyllic locations and winding journeys away from the cities. Even the crowded London underground seems kindly with its iconic map, the train lines a criss-cross of multi-coloured straws. 

British journalist Clare Hammond’s new book, “On the Shadow Tracks: A Journey Through Occupied Myanmar,” shatters that sentimentality. Her investigation into the country’s railways uncovers the murky politics beneath the tracks and the mass human suffering caused by railway expansion.

The book is ambitious, covering the intrepid author’s train journey through eight regions of Myanmar and capturing some of the fraught history and politics of each area from the post-coup present to Burma under British occupation. This physical as well as intellectual feat is vast, and the conflicts that Hammond examines continue to shake the ground she travels.

What results is a clear. . .

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