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FW: Book Review - The Mekong (Milton Osborne)

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  • Popplestone, Ann
    ... From: Danny Yee [mailto:danny@ANATOMY.USYD.EDU.AU] Sent: Thursday, July 06, 2000 6:36 AM To: ANTHRO-L@LISTSERV.ACSU.BUFFALO.EDU Subject: Book Review - The
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      FW: Book Review - The Mekong (Milton Osborne)

      -----Original Message-----
      From: Danny Yee [mailto:danny@...]
      Sent: Thursday, July 06, 2000 6:36 AM
      To: ANTHRO-L@...
      Subject: Book Review - The Mekong (Milton Osborne)

      An HTML version of this book review can be found at
      along with more than five hundred other reviews.

      Details of some of the bad things the ADB is doing in the Mekong
      region - and Australia's involvement in that - can be found at


       TITLE: The Mekong
       - Turbulent past, uncertain future
       AUTHOR: Milton Osborne
       PUBLISHER: Allen & Unwin 2000
       SUBJECTS: history, exploration, Southeast Asia
       OTHER: 295 pages, bibliography

      A popular account of some of the historical highlights of exploration
      and development along the Mekong, Milton Osborne's latest offering is
      as much travelogue as history.  For the more recent material he draws
      on forty years personal involvement with Southeast Asia, focusing on
      development issues; for the earlier period he is most fascinated by the
      history of European exploration.  The result is episodic and personal,
      but also readable and informative.

      Osborne touches on the earlier history of the region, on settlement in
      the Mekong delta and the Angkor empire, but soon comes to the colonial
      period.  Here his primary interest is in exploration rather than broader
      history: he devotes forty five pages to the 1866-68 Mekong Expedition
      (the subject of an earlier book _River Road to China_) and almost as
      much again to attempts to navigate the Mekong, especially the problems
      posed by the Khone Falls.  He also touches on the symbolic role of the
      Mekong in French colonial consciousness.

      The three chapters on the period of the First and Second Indochina wars
      don't cover much general history (and might not be that easy to follow
      for readers without any knowledge of the history of the Vietnam war).
      Instead they try to give a feel for what it was like to live in Saigon
      and Phnom Penh before, during, and after the fighting, and for the
      human tragedies involved.  They also cover early dam proposals and
      the setting up of the Mekong Committee.

      Part three looks at some of the ongoing controversies surrounding large
      development projects.  Osborne sketches the dangers (known and potential)
      to the ecology of the river posed by Chinese dams on the Mekong itself
      and by Thai and Laotian dams on Mekong tributaries (oddly there is no
      mention of Vietnamese dams on the Se San).  He also looks at the changes
      brought by the development of bridges and transport systems and growth
      in tourism.  Will development along the Mekong be controlled by the
      local people on whom it has the greatest impact, or by national elites,
      large corporations, and multilaterals such as the Asian Development Bank?


      %T      The Mekong
      %S      Turbulent past, uncertain future
      %A      Osborne, Milton
      %I      Allen & Unwin
      %C      Sydney
      %D      2000
      %O      hardcover, bibliography, index
      %G      ISBN 1-86508-219-8
      %P      xvi,295pp
      %K      history, exploration, Southeast Asia

      3 July 2000

              Copyright (c) 2000 Danny Yee <editor@...>
              Danny Yee's Book Reviews      http://dannyreviews.com/

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