Books

Under the Dragon: Travels in a Betrayed Land by Rory MacLean (HarperCollins, pounds 16.99)

On discovering a beautiful, yet ancient Burmese basket in the British Museum, Rory MacLean falls into a reverie of his accidental visit to the intoxicating country 10 years earlier. Memories unleashed, MacLean, with his wife Katrin, begins a bizarre quest around Burma with the goal of finding an identical basket himself.

What follows is, thankfully, not a travelling Challenge Anneka, but a moving tale of the Burmese people that the couple meet as they follow up various dead-end suggestions.

MacLean's prose shifts between past and present, truth and, frequently, fiction as he weaves in the stories of four ordinary Burmese women and their extraordinary bravery. His talent lies in his ability to picture, in exquisite detail, an individual life, then pan-out in an almost filmic manner to acknowledge their place in the wider newsworthy events of their country's history.

After reading Under the Dragon, one can never again see Burma's masses as faceless hordes. MacLean shows Burma to be a country of repression and fear, but also one of great individual kindness and passion.

MacLean's compelling book is as finely crafted as we imagine the intriguing museum basket to be.

Rating 8/10

Tennessee Music by Peter Coats Zimmerman (Odyssey, pounds 15.95)

Home of Elvis, Nat King Cole, Chuck Berry and . . umm. . . Parton's Eastern theme park, Dollywood, Tennessee is the state that launched a thousand careers.

Traipsing through the region's tangled musical roots is Peter Coats Zimmerman, a Tennessee born and bred, journalist and music enthusiast. Zimmerman's guide to the region and its musical development is enjoyable, yet comprehensive - he defines the genres (blues, country, soul...) without attempting to pigeon-hole the greats and gives an extensive run-down on the interesting areas of Tennessee.

By peppering the information with anecdotes and many old or rarely seen photographs and caricatures, he gives the reader a real flavour of the region, while lightening the reading load.

Much needed emphasis is placed on the social and economical assets of the region. Zimmerman also includes invaluable lists of attractions, events, shops, restaurants and hotels, a suitable discography and easy to read fold-out maps. This makes Tennessee Music an essential for all travellers and devotees fascinated by the development of music in this prolific area of America.

Rating 7/10

Shadows and Wind by Robert Templer (Little, Brown, pounds 18.99)

Robert Templer, too young to have had direct experience of the Vietnam war, found that his ideas of Vietnam were, like those of most westerners, formed by American war movies and books.

In 1990, he went to Vietnam as a foreign correspondent for a French news agency and found a country where war had already become part of history. In his book, Shadows and Wind, Templer seeks to bridge the gap between nostalgic fantasy and the reality of contemporary Vietnamese life.

He explores the experience of modern Vietnamese people - a relatively uncharted area - and looks at the issues facing government and people. A shaky economy, an intolerance of anti-government voices and official corruption loom large in his findings, and Templer foresees the growing entrepreneurial culture offering more attractions to new generations than Communism.

Rating 7/10

The Independent travel offers: Discover a world of inspiring destinations

News
Jacqueline Bisset has claimed that young women today are obsessed with being 'hot', rather than 'charming', 'romantic' or 'beautiful'
people
Arts and Entertainment
Lena Dunham
booksLena Dunham's memoirs - written at the age of 28 - are honest to the point of making you squirm
Arts and Entertainment
A bit rich: Maggie Smith in Downton Abbey
tvDownton Abbey review: It's six months since we last caught up with the Crawley clan
Sport
Frank Lampard and his non-celebration
premier leagueManchester City vs Chelsea match report from the Etihad Stadium
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
people
Life and Style
A new app has been launched that enables people to have a cuddle from a stranger
techNew app offers 'PG alternative' to dating services like Tinder
Sport
Greg Dyke insists he will not resign as Football Association chairman after receiving a watch worth more than £16,000 but has called for an end to the culture of gifts being given to football officials
football
Arts and Entertainment
Jake Quickenden sings his heart out in his second audition
tvX Factor: How did the Jakes - and Charlie Martinez - fare?
Sport
premier league
Arts and Entertainment
'New Tricks' star Dennis Waterman is departing from the show after he completes filming on two more episodes
tvOnly remaining original cast-member to leave crime series
Sport
Mario Balotelli celebrates his first Liverpool goal
premier leagueLiverpool striker expressed his opinion about the 5-3 thriller with Leicester - then this happened
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
Britain's shadow chancellor Ed Balls (L) challenges reporter Rob Merrick for the ball during the Labour Party versus the media soccer match,
peopleReporter left bleeding after tackle from shadow Chancellor in annual political football match
Arts and Entertainment
Female fans want more explicit male sex in Game of Thrones, George R R Martin says
tvSpoiler warning: Star of George RR Martin's hit series says viewers have 'not seen the last' of him/her
News
i100
News
i100
Sport
Plenty to ponder: Amir Khan has had repeated problems with US immigration because of his Muslim faith and now American television may shun him
boxing
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    IT Administrator - Graduate

    £18000 Per Annum: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd: ***EXCELLENT OPPORTUNITY FO...

    USA/Florida Travel Consultants £30-50k OTE Essex

    Basic of £18,000 + commission, realistic OTE of £30-£50k : Ocean Holidays: Le...

    Marketing Executive / Member Services Exec

    £20 - 26k + Benefits: Guru Careers: A Marketing Executive / Member Services Ex...

    Sales Account Manager

    £15,000 - £25,000: Recruitment Genius: A fantastic opportunity has arisen for ...

    Day In a Page

    A roller-coaster tale from the 'voice of a generation'

    Not That Kind of Girl:

    A roller-coaster tale from 'voice of a generation' Lena Dunham
    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice. In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence

    London is not bedlam or a cradle of vice

    In fact it, as much as anywhere, deserves independence
    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with Malcolm McLaren

    Vivienne Westwood 'didn’t want' relationship with McLaren

    Designer 'felt pressured' into going out with Sex Pistols manager
    Jourdan Dunn: Model mother

    Model mother

    Jordan Dunn became one of the best-paid models in the world
    Apple still coolest brand – despite U2 PR disaster

    Apple still the coolest brand

    Despite PR disaster of free U2 album
    Scottish referendum: The Yes vote was the love that dared speak its name, but it was not to be

    Despite the result, this is the end of the status quo

    Boyd Tonkin on the fall-out from the Scottish referendum
    Manolo Blahnik: The high priest of heels talks flats, Englishness, and why he loves Mary Beard

    Manolo Blahnik: Flats, Englishness, and Mary Beard

    The shoe designer who has been dubbed 'the patron saint of the stiletto'
    The Beatles biographer reveals exclusive original manuscripts of some of the best pop songs ever written

    Scrambled eggs and LSD

    Behind The Beatles' lyrics - thanks to Hunter Davis's original manuscript copies
    'Normcore' fashion: Blending in is the new standing out in latest catwalk non-trend

    'Normcore': Blending in is the new standing out

    Just when fashion was in grave danger of running out of trends, it only went and invented the non-trend. Rebecca Gonsalves investigates
    Dance’s new leading ladies fight back: How female vocalists are now writing their own hits

    New leading ladies of dance fight back

    How female vocalists are now writing their own hits
    Mystery of the Ground Zero wedding photo

    A shot in the dark

    Mystery of the wedding photo from Ground Zero
    His life, the universe and everything

    His life, the universe and everything

    New biography sheds light on comic genius of Douglas Adams
    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Save us from small screen superheroes

    Shows like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D are little more than marketing tools
    Reach for the skies

    Reach for the skies

    From pools to football pitches, rooftop living is looking up
    These are the 12 best hotel spas in the UK

    12 best hotel spas in the UK

    Some hotels go all out on facilities; others stand out for the sheer quality of treatments