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  • Published: 6 August 2024
  • ISBN: 9780241623893
  • Imprint: Allen Lane
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 400
  • RRP: $55.00

On the Shadow Tracks

A Journey Through Occupied Myanmar




An immersive, magisterial portrait of Myanmar, told through the story of its hidden railways

In 2016, while working as a journalist in Yangon, Clare Hammond discovered an obscure map that showed a web of new railways spanning the length and breadth of the country - railways not shown on any other publicly available maps. She was determined to uncover the railways' origins, purpose, and most of all, the silence that surrounded them. She would spend three months travelling on these mysterious railways, and the next five years piecing their story together.

Her journey would take her from Myanmar's tropical south to the embattled mountain towns that border India and China. In dilapidated carriages, along tracks in disrepair, through contested ethnic states and former sites of forced labour, visiting temples, tea shops and festivals, Clare encountered a colourful and contradictory Myanmar through the stories of its people. Simultaneously a lush and evocative travelogue, an unsparing account of Myanmar's recent history, and an astonishing, conversation-shifting engagement with Britain's colonial legacy, On the Shadow Tracks is that rare and necessary thing: a book that finds and tells the truth.

  • Published: 6 August 2024
  • ISBN: 9780241623893
  • Imprint: Allen Lane
  • Format: Hardback
  • Pages: 400
  • RRP: $55.00

Praise for On the Shadow Tracks

On the Shadow Tracks harnesses the railway lines of Myanmar's complicated past to its turbulent present, and the result is part travelogue, part history and completely absorbing. An astonishing achievement

Joanna Lumley

A journey like nothing I've ever read before. The quest at the heart of this book throws off the romance of rail travel in extraordinary reportage by a brave and brilliant journalist. Compassionate and humane, in the tradition of Orwell

Sophy Roberts, author of The Lost Pianos of Siberia

Courageous... The book gives a damning account of the army officers and politicians in charge during recent decades.... At times the landscape is the most eloquent witness

Spectator

A clear-eyed travelogue that brings modern Myanmar to life... The book is ambitious, covering the intrepid author’s train journey through eight regions of Myanmar... The physical as well as intellectual feat is vast, and the conflicts that Hammond examines continue to shake the ground she travels... On the Shadow Tracks raises questions that are relevant worldwide... It reminds the reader of the danger of silence, bringing up weighty questions of memory and forgetting and what these ideas mean for securing justice. We are reminded that without making truth explicit, mass suffering can be erased from history and the national imagination, making it possible for human lives to be swept aside as nothing

Myanmar Now

Hammond [gives] voice to the people most affected by decades of brutality and mismanagement... On the Shadow Tracks transports the reader to a part of the world too often veiled

Observer

One of the most absorbing and comprehensive overviews of Myanmar's Great Railway Disaster to date, and [...] a précis of the greater disaster of the modern Burmese nation

TLS