"Stepped on something soft and wobbly.
Struck a match, found it was a dead Chinaman."
THE TROUSER PEOPLE is an offbeat tribute to a little-known land of startling human diversity.
Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Andrew Marshall was inspired by diaries he found in London's British Library. They belonged to Sir George Scott, a forgotten Victorian adventurer who hacked, bullied and charmed his way through Burma's uncharted jungles to establish British colonial rule.
Born in Scotland in 1851, Scott was a die-hard imperialist with a fondness for supersized pith helmets and a bluffness of expression that bordered on the Pythonesque. "Stepped on something soft and wobbly," he records in his diary one dark night. "Struck a match, found it was a dead Chinaman."
But as Marshall discovers by retracing the explorer's footsteps, Scott was also a writer and photographer of rare sensibility. He spent a lifetime documenting the colourful ethnic peoples who still live in Burma's rugged hinterlands, then widened the imperial goalposts in another way. He introduced football to Burma, where today it is a national obsession.
Part travelogue, part reportage, Marshall travels from the decaying splendor of Rangoon to the royal capital of Mandalay, then up into the tribal highlands to meet the bewitching "giraffe women" and the former headhunters of the Wild Wa - today, Asia's biggest drug-traffickers. He discovers a nation whose soldiers, like the British colonialists before them, were nicknamed "the trouser people" by sarong-wearing civilians.
THE TROUSER PEOPLE is an intrepid and often hilarious journey through Britain's lost heritage - and a powerful expose of Burma's modern tragedy. This fully revised edition includes a gripping eyewitness account of the Saffron Revolution, the 2007 democratic uprising led by Buddhist monks.