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Burma's Economy in the Twentieth Century


  • Author: Ian Brown, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
  • Date Published: November 2013
  • availability: Available
  • format: Hardback
  • isbn: 9781107015883

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About the Authors
  • At the beginning of the twentieth century, Burma was among the most prosperous territories in the East. Yet since gaining independence in 1948, its economy has struggled. Burma's developmental failure has often been attributed to gross mismanagement of the economy by the military who took power in 1962 but in this illuminating book, Ian Brown, one of the leading economic historians of Southeast Asia, provides a fresh examination of the country's economic past, thereby setting that failure in the context of the colonial period. For the first time, a review of Burma's economic experience in the final decades of British rule is integrated with an analysis of its economy since independence, providing a detailed understanding of the complex origins of Burma's economic failure in the second half of the twentieth century. This is a compelling introduction to Burma's political and economic history for students in Southeast Asian history, development studies and political science.

    • Considers in detail the history of Burma's economy across the whole of the twentieth century
    • Integrates, for the first time, an understanding of Burma's economic experience during the colonial period with an analysis of Burma's economy since independence in 1948
    • Students will gain a detailed understanding of the historical origins of Burma's economic failure in the second half of the twentieth century and an appreciation of the huge developmental challenge now facing the country in the early twenty-first century
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    Reviews & endorsements

    'This important new book could scarcely be better timed. Appearing just as Burma itself is emerging from decades of effective isolation from much of the world, Ian Brown's account of Burma's economic travails is both a significant historical work, and a highly valuable contribution to understanding the country's current (and future) problems and possibilities. A book of immense scholarship worn lightly, Burma's Economy in the Twentieth Century will prove a seminal contribution to a country that may yet escape the shackles of its past.' Sean Turnell, Macquarie University

    'Burma's Economy in the Twentieth Century is a comprehensive analysis of that increasingly important country. It comes at an opportune time when foreign companies are considering investing there. By providing an historical overview and background that is a major contribution to the burgeoning literature on Burma, Professor Brown has informed those in policy positions, potential investors in the private sector, and the academic community. The volume will also be a welcome text for courses on Burma and is highly recommended.' David Steinberg, Distinguished Professor of Asian Studies, Georgetown University

    'Professor Brown's very readable, but erudite, volume Burma's Economy in the Twentieth Century achieves more than it promises. It is indeed a succinct, thoughtful, and intellectually stimulating study of what its title describes. However, it is something rarer, a history of Burma with the perspective necessary to explain why the country is as it is today.' Robert H. Taylor, Visiting Professorial Fellow, Institute of South East Asian Studies, Singapore, and author of The State In Myanmar

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    Product details

    • Date Published: November 2013
    • format: Hardback
    • isbn: 9781107015883
    • length: 244 pages
    • dimensions: 229 x 152 x 14 mm
    • weight: 0.5kg
    • contains: 16 b/w illus. 1 map 4 tables
    • availability: Available
  • Table of Contents

    1. The economy at the beginning of the twentieth century
    2. Strains in the late colonial economy
    3. War and independence
    4. In pursuit of socialism
    5. Toward the market: the economy from 1988
    Conclusion: themes and threads

  • Author

    Ian Brown, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London
    Ian Brown is a research professor in the economic history of Southeast Asia at the School of Oriental and African Studies, London. He has published extensively on the modern economic history of Southeast Asia, initially focusing on Thailand but, since the early 1990s, turning his attention to Burma.

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