The Mekong: Turbulent Past, Uncertain Future

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Open Road + Grove/Atlantic, Dec 1, 2007 - History - 320 pages
A “remarkable” history of the great river of Southeast Asia (Jill Ker Conway, author of The Road from Coorain).
The Mekong River runs over 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.
This is the story of the peoples and cultures of the great river, from these obscure beginnings to the emergence of today’s independent nations. Drawing on research gathered over forty years, Milton 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.
Along the way, he brings to life those who witnessed and shaped events along the river, including Chou Ta-kuan, the thirteenth-century Chinese envoy who recorded the glory of Angkor Wat, the capital of the Khmer Empire; the Iberian mercenaries Blas Ruiz and Diego Veloso, whose involvement in the intrigues of Cambodia’s royal family shook Southeast Asia’s politics in the sixteenth century; and 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.
“[A] pathbreaking, ecologically informed chronicle . . . A pulsating journey through the heart of Southeast Asia.” —Publishers Weekly

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User Review  - jakkrits - LibraryThing

Throughout the book “The Mekong: Turbulent Past, Uncertain Future”, Milton Osborne details the experiences of the early Mekong explorations of the French expedition team back in the colonial era ... Read full review

The Mekong, turbulent past, uncertain future

User Review  - Not Available - Book Verdict

The author admits that the enormous power and potential of the Mekong River is his obsession, begun when he was a foreign service officer and subsequently cultivated through four decades of traveling ... Read full review


Maps and Illustrations
Beginnings Discovery and the Colonial Years
War Failed Peace and Plans for the Mekong
War Victory and Defeat along the Mekong
Tragedies of Peace
Dams Plans and Controversies I
Sources Notes and Acknowledgements

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About the author (2007)

A compelling, lively narrative history of the peoples and cultures of the great river of Southeast Asia, The Mekong spans two thousand years--from the dawn of civilization on the Mekong Delta to the political and environmental challenges the region faces today. Beginning with the rise of ancient seafaring civilizations at Oc Eco and moving on to the glory of the Cambodian empire in the first millennium, through European colonization and the struggle for independence in the twentieth century, Osborne traces the history of the region that comprises the modern nations of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, Malaysia, Burma, and China. Vibrant, insightful, and eminently readable, The Mekong is a rousing history of a dynamic region that has fascinated readers the world over.

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