Burma, also known as Myanmar, is usually in the headlines to highlight its democratic problems and the struggle of Aung San Suu Kyi, and there are some groups which advocate travelers should avoid making visits to Burma. However, for those who decide it’s a good idea to get to know this country better, Elena Jotow and Nicholas Ganz have written Burma: The Alternative Guide. Originally published last year in German, this 2009 English translation is an interesting addition to the relatively small collection of travel guides to Burma.
This book is a combination of useful information and a great collection of color photographs. The first half features descriptions divided up into the different geographical divisions and states of Burma, with details of history and culture and some ideas and suggestions of places travelers can visit, but without providing in-depth visiting information. The second half of the book delves into what the authors describe as the “darker side” of Burma, covering issues including the problem of opium poppy cultivation, and of course the struggle for freedom as the Burmese people fight against the longest ruling military dictatorship in the modern world.