The Trouser People: A Story of Burma--in the Shadow of the Empire
Sir George Scott was an unsung Victorian adventurer who hacked, bullied, and charmed his way through uncharted jungle to help establish British colonial rule in Burma. Born in Scotland in 1851, Scott was a die-hard imperialist with a fondness for gargantuan pith-helmets and a bluffness of expression that bordered on the Pythonesque. 'Stepped on something soft and wobbly,' he records in his bush diary one dark night. 'Struck a match, found it was a dead Chinaman.'
George Scott was also a writer and photographer who spent a lifetime documenting the outlandish tribes who lived in Burma's wilderness - tribes like the Padaung 'giraffe women' and the headhunting Wild Wa, who quaintly claimed to be descended from tadpoles. Scott also extended the Empire's untamed border with China, then famously widened the imperial goalposts in another way: he introduced football to Burma, where today it is a national obsession.
A century later, Burma is a hermit nation misruled by a brutal military dictatorship. Its soldiers, like the British colonialists before them, are scathingly nicknamed 'the trouser people' by the country's sarong-wearing civilians. Inspired by Scott's unpublished diaries, Andrew Marshall retraces the explorer's intrepid footsteps from the mouldering colonial splendour of Rangoon to the fabled royal capital of Mandalay, then up into the remote tribal heartland where Scott had his greatest adventures. Marshall recalls the opulent lives of the Western-educated chiefs who in Scott's time ruled hilltop fiefdoms half the size of England, and has his own encounter with the Wild Wa, who today run a huge drug-trafficking empire.
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