Myanmar's Enemy Within

Myanmar's Enemy Within : Buddhist Violence and the Making of a Muslim 'Other'

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For decades Myanmar has been portrayed as a case of good citizen versus bad regime - men in jackboots maintaining a suffocating rule over a majority Buddhist population beholden to the ideals of non-violence and tolerance. But in recent years this narrative has been upended.

In June 2012, violence between Buddhists and Muslims erupted in western Myanmar, pointing to a growing divide between religious communities that before had received little attention from the outside world. Attacks on Muslims soon spread across the country, leaving hundreds dead, entire neighbourhoods turned to rubble, and tens of thousands of Muslims confined to internment camps. This violence, breaking out amid the passage to democracy, was spurred on by monks, pro-democracy activists and even politicians.

In this gripping and deeply reported account, Francis Wade explores how the manipulation of identities by an anxious ruling elite has laid the foundations for mass violence, and how, in Myanmar's case, some of the most respected and articulate voices for democracy have turned on the Muslim population at a time when the majority of citizens are beginning to experience freedoms unseen for half a century.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 304 pages
  • 135 x 216 x 20.32mm | 453.59g
  • London, United Kingdom
  • English
  • 1 Maps
  • 1783605278
  • 9781783605279
  • 129,153

Table of contents

1. The First Wave: The Murder, the Smoke and the Ruins
2. Sons of Whose Soil? Britain and the Birth of a Fractured Nation
3. The Art of Belonging: A Peculiar Transaction in Yangon
4. Us and Them: Making Identities, Manipulating Divides
5. Ruling the Unruly: Social Engineering and the Village of Prisoners
6. 2012: Season of Violence
7. At First Light the Darkness Fell: Myanmar's Democratic Experiment Falters
8. `We Came Down from the Sky': The Buddhist Preachers of Hate
9. Apartheid State: Camps, Ghettos, and the New Architecture of Control
10. U Maung Soe: An Outcast in Disguise
11. In the Old Cinema Hut: Fear, Hope and the Heroes We Forget
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Review quote

'Lucid ... exceptionally timely ... vital to understanding how things could go so disastrously wrong. Wade predicted the miserable fate of Myanmar's hated Muslim minority.'

'As Francis Wade's excellent new book shows, this disaster was easily predictable and, with a bit of forethought, could have easily been prevented.'
Literary Review

'[Wade's] razor-sharp attention to narrative ... succeeds, with remarkable nuance and precision, at bringing the country's intricate history into the present.'
Los Angeles Review of Books

'A lucid and admirable attempt to come to terms with a deeply complicated country.'

'Bold and brave ... Wade's book tells the personal stories of Muslim and Buddhist characters who have animated the tragic scenes of Myanmar's deadly morality play.'
TIME Magazine

'This is a deeply insightful work on the dynamics of ethnic violence.'
Foreign Affairs

'A book of impressive historical depth and intellectual acuity. Francis Wade shatters many cliches about religious violence as he explores its tangled roots in Buddhist Myanmar.' Pankaj Mishra, author of Age of Anger: A History of the Present

'Francis Wade has invested immense energy in pursuit of the truth about the tragedy of Myanmar and its Muslim population. There is no other writer on this topic with the same moral courage and intellectual insight. His work demands serious attention.'

Fergal Keane, BBC Correspondent and author of Road of Bones: The Epic Siege of Kohima

'Essential for all who wish to understand the
ethnic cleansing that today threatens Myanmar's Rohingya population and, with
it, Myanmar's tenuous path to democracy. Historically deep, balanced,
large-spirited, and adorned with vivid and enlightening vignettes.'
James C.
Scott, Yale University, author of The Art of Not Being Governed: An Anarchist
History of Upland Southeast Asia.

`This gripping investigation into the plight of Myanmar's Muslim community reads like a forensic case history, uncovering the full extent of a nation's festering wound. Lucid, compassionate, admirably researched and reasoned, here is scholarly reportage at its best.'

Wendy Law-Yone, author of Golden Parasol: A Daughter's Memoir Of Burma

`Elegantly written, empirically rich, and analytically nuanced, the book combines in-depth, on-the-ground reportage with a solid command of the scholarship. An excellent book.'

John T. Sidel, LSE, and author of Riots, Pogroms, Jihad: Religious Violence in Indonesia

'A fine, engrossing work, at the centre of which is that all too common enmity and conflict between people of different religious and ethnic adherences.'

Paul Brass, author of The Production of Hindu-Muslim Violence in Contemporary India

'A sober account of ethnic mistrust and communal violence in Myanmar.'
Australian Foreign Affairs

'The strength of Myanmar's enemy within lies in Wade's attempt to understand and explain the complex ways in which discrimination has been perpetuated and entrenched, by looking at the human experience-on all sides-of this ongoing situation ... excellent starting-points for those wanting to understand more about the situation of the Rohingya in Myanmar.'
International Affairs

'Dotted with anecdotal recollections, the book brilliantly captures how individual lives are shaped, reshaped and irrevocably damaged due to a real or acquired membership within a certain group ... an important work informing debates in these troubled times.'
Tea Circle
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About Francis Wade

Francis Wade is a journalist specialising in Myanmar and Southeast Asia. He began reporting on Myanmar in 2009 with the exiled Democratic Voice of Burma news organisation, based in Northern Thailand, before going on to cover in-depth the transition from military rule and the violence that accompanied it. He has reported from across South and Southeast Asia for The Guardian, TIME, Foreign Policy Magazine, and others. He is now based in London.
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Rating details

69 ratings
4 out of 5 stars
5 32% (22)
4 42% (29)
3 20% (14)
2 6% (4)
1 0% (0)
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