Everything Is Broken: A Tale of Catastrophe in Burma

Emma Larkin, Author . Penguin Press $25.95 (271p) ISBN 978-1-59420-257-5

Larkin (Finding George Orwell in Burma ), an American journalist writing under a pseudonym, reports on the unreported (and suppressed) story of the May 2008 cyclone Nargis, which devastated southwestern Burma, causing over 100,000 deaths. Larkin, who has been covering the country for the past 15 years, visited Burma immediately after the storm to collect testimonies of the cyclone survivors and the horrific destruction they witnessed. Many of their harrowing stories surpass the images of the 2004 tsunami and the Haiti earthquake in terms of utter hopelessness, partly because the government did little to nothing to help cyclone victims, initially refused international disaster aid, and willfully withheld information about survivors and their needs. Once the regime began to allow aid into the country, weeks after the disaster, it siphoned off funds to fill its own coffers. With indefatigable shoe-leather journalism—she visits decimated villages one by one, even while hampered by her tenuous visa status and the government's suppression of free speech and the free press—Larkin reconstructs what happened in the aftermath of cyclone Nargis and indicts the insulated regime for creating a desperately untenable situation for its people. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/01/2010
Release date: 04/01/2010
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