“Even though we know how it will end, this firsthand account is absorbing in its detail and immediacy. History is full of silences of those who have been forgotten or expunged, but here for once we have a voice.”
The Japan Times
“Wartime in Burma: A Diary, January to June 1942 is an important source that reveals the rare perspective of a Burmese civil servant working in the British administration…. (It) will be valuable to a wide range of scholars, students, and readers interested in World War II, colonialism, and social history.”
The Journal of Asian Studies
“The translation (of Wartime in Burma), which is of a very high quality, was done by the late L. E. Bagshawe and Anna J. Allott. Mr. Bagshawe…was one of the unsung heroes of Burmese studies…. Wartime in Burma is handsomely produced with six illustrations…. Particularly interesting is the reprint of an eyewitness account of the robbery which resulted in U Sein Tin’s death.”
“This diary is more than an account of Myanmar during World War II. It is also a repository of the views of one of Myanmar’s most influential literary figures…. Sayagyi L. E. Bagshawe and Sayamagyi Anna Allott have done a great service to scholars of Myanmar studies.”
This diary, begun after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and covering the invasion of Burma up to June 1942, is a moving account of the dilemmas faced by the well-loved and prolific Burmese author Theippan Maung Wa (a pseudonym of U Sein Tin) and his family. At the time of the Japanese invasion, U Sein Tin was deputy secretary in the Ministry of Home and Defense Affairs. An Oxford-trained member of the Indian Civil Service, working for the British administration on the eve of the invasion, he lived with his wife and three small children in Rangoon.
Wartime in Burma is a stirring memoir that presents a personal account of U Sein Tin’s feelings about the war, his anxiety for the safety of his family, the bombing of Rangoon, and what happened to them during the next six chaotic months of the British retreat. The author and his family leave Rangoon to live in a remote forest in Upper Burma with several other Burmese civil servants, their staff, and valuable possessions—rich pickings for robbers. His diary ends abruptly on June 5, his forty-second birthday; U Sein Tin was murdered on June 6 by a gang of Burmese bandits. The diary pages, scattered on the floor of the house, were rescued by his wife and eventually published in Burma in 1966. What survives is a unique account that shines new light on the military retreat from Burma.
L. E. Bagshawe was an independent scholar and historian who passed away while this edition was in press. He has translated several important historical works from Burmese including The Maniyadanabon of Shin Sandalinka and The Kinwun Min–gyi’s London Diary. More info →
Anna Allott holds the title Senior Research Associate in Burmese at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. She has published widely on Burmese literature and grammar. More info →
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