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
Netherlands' goalkeeper Tim Krul fails to make a save from Costa Rica's midfielder Celso Borges during a penalty shoot-out in the quarter-final between Netherlands and Costa Rica during the 2014 FIFA World Cup
newsGoalkeepers suffer from 'gambler’s fallacy' during shoot-outs
Arts and Entertainment
Sydney and Melbourne are locked in a row over giant milk crates
artCultural relations between Sydney and Melbourne soured by row over milk crate art instillation
Arts and Entertainment
Adèle Exarchopoulos and Léa Seydoux play teeneage lovers in the French erotic drama 'Blue Is The Warmest Colour' - The survey found four times as many women admitting to same-sex experiences than 20 years ago
arts + entsBlue Is The Warmest Colour, Bojack Horseman and Hobbit on the way
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Travel
ebookHow to enjoy the perfect short break in 20 great cities
News
Morrissey pictured in 2013
people
News
A scene from the video shows students mock rioting
newsEnd-of-year leaver's YouTube film features playground gun massacre
News
i100
Life and Style
The director of Wall-E Andrew Stanton with Angus MacLane's Lego model
gadgetsDesign made in Pixar animator’s spare time could get retail release
News
peopleGuitarist, who played with Aerosmith, Lou Reed and Alice Cooper among others, was 71
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
Independent
Travel Shop
the manor
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on city breaks Find out more
santorini
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on chic beach resorts Find out more
sardina foodie
Up to 70% off luxury travel
on country retreats Find out more
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

    SQL DBA/ C# Developer - T-SQL, C#.Net

    £45000 - £55000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Working with an exciting ...

    Sales and Office Administrator – Sports Media

    £23,000: Sauce Recruitment: A global leader in sports and entertainment is now...

    C++ Software Engineer - Hounslow, West London - C++ - to £60K +

    £40000 - £60000 per annum + Pension, Healthcare : Deerfoot IT Resources Limite...

    VB.NET and C# developer (VB.NET,C#,ASP.NET)

    £30000 - £45000 per annum + Bonus+Benefits+Package: Harrington Starr: VB.NET a...

    Day In a Page

    Dress the Gaza situation up all you like, but the truth hurts

    Robert Fisk on Gaza conflict

    Dress the situation up all you like, but the truth hurts
    Save the tiger: Tiger, tiger burning less brightly as numbers plummet

    Tiger, tiger burning less brightly

    When William Blake wrote his famous poem there were probably more than 100,000 tigers in the wild. These days they probably number around 3,200
    5 News's Andy Bell retraces his grandfather's steps on the First World War battlefields

    In grandfather's footsteps

    5 News's political editor Andy Bell only knows his grandfather from the compelling diary he kept during WWI. But when he returned to the killing fields where Edwin Vaughan suffered so much, his ancestor came to life
    Lifestyle guru Martha Stewart reveals she has flying robot ... to take photos of her farm

    Martha Stewart has flying robot

    The lifestyle guru used the drone to get a bird's eye view her 153-acre farm in Bedford, New York
    Former Labour minister Meg Hillier has demanded 'pootling lanes' for women cyclists

    Do women cyclists need 'pootling lanes'?

    Simon Usborne (who's more of a hurtler) explains why winning the space race is key to happy riding
    A tale of two presidents: George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story

    A tale of two presidents

    George W Bush downs his paintbrush to pen father’s life story
    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover

    The dining car makes a comeback

    Restaurateur Mitch Tonks has given the Great Western Pullman dining car a makeover
    Gallery rage: How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?

    Gallery rage

    How are institutions tackling the discomfort of overcrowding this summer?
    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players

    Eye on the prize

    Louis van Gaal has £500,000 video surveillance system installed to monitor Manchester United players
    Women's rugby: Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup

    Women's rugby

    Tamara Taylor adds fuel to the ire in quest to land World Cup
    Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

    With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
    Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

    How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

    As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
    We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

    We will remember them

    Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
    Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

    Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
    Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

    Acting in video games gets a makeover

    David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices