Two journeys, one hundred years apart--that of the eccentric British explorer George Scott, who introduced the game of soccer to Burmese natives, and that of the author, charting the same dangerous terrain in a country vastly changed by colonialism, war, and politics. Andrew Marshall has written an unforgettable adventure story, the wry account of two journeys into the untraveled heart of Burma. Part travelogue, part history, part reportage, The Trouser People recounts the story of George Scott, the eccentric British explorer, photographer, adventurer, and later Colonial Administrator of Burma, who introduced the Empire's best game (soccer!) to Burmese natives and to the forbidden Wa state of headhunters, who were similarly enthusiastic about it. The second, contrasting journey is Marshall's own, taking the same dangerous path one hundred years later in a country now devastated by colonial incompetence, war, and totalitarianism. Wonderfully observed, mordantly funny, and skillfully recounted, this is journalistic travel writing at its best.
"[A] witty, beautifully turned travelogue about benighted Burma, which draws uncomfortable parallels between the colonial era of the 19th century - the "trouser people" was the nickname used by the sarong-wearing Burmese for the British - and the current repressions of the military dictatorship.... Heaven knows, this should be a gloomy book, but it is enlivened at every turn by Andrew Marshall's wit and his eye for the absurd." Daily Telegraph "[A] remarkably good-humoured book.... This is not one of those foreign-correspondent memoirs where you suspect most of the work has been done in the bar of some Intercontinental Hotel. Marshall has been to places where you simply don't know who may come at you out of the shrubbery, how heavily armed he will be, how fearful of foreigners, and indeed how stoned on whatever local intoxicant is most plentiful. He had to pose as a tourist to be in Burma at all, which is not easy when you have US satellite-maps in your luggage, as the only reliable indicators of territories still only sketchily know." Sunday Telegraph "[T]he stuff of ripping yarns.... Burma is a dangerous place and Marshall has had his fair share of close shaves researching this book." The Sunday Times "Andrew Marshall's physical objective, in this lively book about Burma, is to reach a small lake in the jungle highlands of the Wa country; the lake is a magical one, the people of its shores were until recently head-hunters, the garrison which patrols that mountainous border of Burma with China are involved in opium wars.... Marshall describes the country vividly and succeeds in making his misty little lake sufficiently magical for the journey to have been worthwhile." The Spectator "Marshall has travelled bravely, and his Brit-gonzo journalism made me laugh, think and look very hard at places and peoples that disappear off our mental and media maps. He has smoked many cheroots and drunk much damson wine, rice wine and beer. I would, too, if I had the nerve to go the places he has." The Independent "Marshall has produced an immensely readable book... He makes light of his own escapades and provides, above all, an unsentimental expose of the craziness and cruelty that is Burma today." The Guardian "It is good to be able to pay Andrew Marshall's book a fulsome Burmese compliment - his writing is nicely rounded." The Times"