The Mekong is one of the world's great rivers, and by far the largest in Southeast Asia. Empires have risen and fallen in the lands through which the Mekong flows and it has been linked to remarkable adventure and exploration as well as war and massacre. Now that Indochina is at peace, new dangers threaten the river's future.For more than forty years Milton Osborne has been fascinated by the Mekong and its history. He has lived beside it, travelled on it and written an acclaimed account of its exploration in the nineteenth century. Here he recounts the history of the river from its earliest times to the present, a history full of the stories of remarkable men-Spanish and Portuguese freebooters and missionaries who briefly held the fate of Cambodia in their hands; French explorers who were recognised in the nineteenth century as the equal of Burton and Livingstone, but are now largely forgotten even in France; a martyred Cambodian monsignor and an Australian-educated Vietnamese reflecting on communist rule. In the present century the Mekong has been at the heart of two wars, while one of the lands along its course, Cambodia, witnessed the terrible tyranny of the Pol Pot regime.While the author's own original research has shaped his writing on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries, the book is a masterly distillation of the river's history from the earliest times to the present. A new chapter brings this edition up to date on recent developments in the region.
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The Mekong River runs over a course of nearly three thousand miles, beginning in the mountains of Tibet and flowing through China, Burma, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia, and Vietnam before emptying into the China Sea. Its waters are the lifeblood of Southeast Asia, and first begot civilization on the fertile banks of its delta region at Oc Eo nearly two millennia ago.
In The Mekong: Turbulent Past, Uncertain Future, acclaimed Southeast Asia expert Milton Osborne tells the story of the peoples and cultures of the great river from these obscure beginnings to the emergence of the modern independent nations of today. Drawing on a wealth of research material gathered over forty years of studying the region, Osborne traces the Mekong's dramatic history through the rise and fall of civilizations and the era of colonization and exploration. He details the struggle for liberation during a twentieth century in which Southeast Asia has seen almost constant conflict, including two world wars, the Indochina War, the Vietnam War and its bloody aftermath-and explores the prospects for peace and prosperity as the region enters a new millennium.
In each era, Osborne brings to life the individuals who witnessed and shaped the course of events along the great river. There is Chou Ta-kuan, the thirteenth-century Chinese envoy who recorded the glory of Angkor Wat, the capital city of the Khmer Empire. There are the Iberian mercenaries Blais Ruiz and Diego Veloso, whose involvement in the intrigues of Cambodia's royal family shook Southeast Asia's politics at the end of the sixteenth century. And there are the revolutionaries led by Ho Chi Minh, whose campaigns to liberate Vietnam from the French and unify the nation under communism changed the course of history.
Vibrant, insightful, and eminently readable, The Mekong is a rousing narrative of a dynamic region that has fascinated readers the world over.
"A tour de force, weaving together personal reflections and a lifetime of scholarship.... A remarkable literary and historical achievement."--Jill Ker Conway, author of The Road from Coorain
"Osborne's book addresses the mighty river with fascination and appreciation. It answers questions about the region's yesterdays and todays, but raises difficult questions for tomorrow. It merits reading."--John Nance, The Columbus Dispatch
"Not only an important history, but a document that hopefully may draw world attention to a growing ecological and human tragedy."--The Australian's Review of Books
Milton Osborne is the author of seven books on Southeast Asia, including Sihanouk: Prince of Light, Prince of Darkness and River Road to China. A former academic, diplomat, and United Nations advisor, he has been a full-time writer and Southeast Asia consultant since 1993.About the Author:
Milton Osborne is an internationally recognised authority on the history and politics of Southeast Asia, and in particular the countries of Indochina. For more than forty years he has been fascinated by the Mekong and its history - he has lived beside it, travelled on it and written an acclaimed account of its exploration in the nineteenth century. Dr Osborne is now a fulltime author and consultant on Asian issues, presenting seminars and lectures to academic and professional bodies throughout the Asia-Pacific region.
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