Cover image for Burma, the state of Myanmar
Burma, the state of Myanmar
Steinberg, David I., 1928-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Washington, D.C. : Georgetown University Press, [2001]

Physical Description:
xxxiii, 346 pages : maps ; 24 cm

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
DS530.65 .S74 2001 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



Long isolated by rigid military rule, Burma, or Myanmar, is one of the least known, significantly sized states in the world. Possessed of a rich cultural history yet facing a range of challenges to stability and growth, it has struck the imaginations of those concerned not only with geopolitical or trade affairs but also with poverty, health, and human rights. David I. Steinberg sheds new light on this reclusive state by exploring issues of authority and legitimacy in its politics, economics, social structure, and culture since the popular uprising and military coup of 1988.

Exploring the origins of that year's tumultuous events, Steinberg analyzes a generation of preceding military governments and their attempts to address the nation's problems. He focuses on the role of the military, the effects of Burma's geopolitical placement, the plight of the poor, the destruction of civil society, and rising ethnic tensions. While taking into account the importance of foreign observers as counterpoints to official views, suppliers of economic aid, and advocates of reform, Steinberg contends that ultimately, the solutions to Myanmar's varied problems lie with the Burmese themselves and the policies of their government.

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Steinberg (Georgetown Univ.), an observer of Burma's development for more than 40 years, notes that this is not a comprehensive study of Burma. Instead, it is "a study of contending authorities and issues of legitimacy essentially since 1988...." One wonders, why not write a balanced account? One glaring imbalance appears in his treatment of the thought and action of military rulers and of the Burmese people and the opposition. Steinberg thoroughly examines the ideology advanced by military thinkers and civilians who share their view, but offers far less about the thought of Daw Aung San Suu Kyi, the leader of the opposition, or of the civilian Burmese intellectuals who take a different approach. Steinberg does not convincingly explain why the government and its thinking are rejected by the people who, in the main, share its culture and religious beliefs, but not its politics. In a nation where the educated youth have been accepted leaders since the 1920s, he offers no convincing analysis of why they stand against the military and sacrifice their lives to bring it down. Though one may not agree with this study, this serious analysis should not be ignored because the author rests his arguments on the facts as he understands them. Graduate level and above. J. Silverstein emeritus, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey, New Brunswick